Who is the better juvenile science fiction writer between Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein?

Aloha – When I think of Isaac Asimov I immediately think of the Robot series and his Foundation series.  Excellent books, but pretty heavy reading.  My favorite Asimov novel is Pebble in the Sky, which is still not what I would consider Middle School Reading.  Many people are unaware that he also wrote a delightful juvenile science fiction series about David Starr, better know as Lucky Starr.  I found the entire series in the Kinokuniya bookstores in Japan (along with a number of other early science fiction series).  They filled the hour long train home each night with adventures that took me far from the crowded trains.
Robert Heinlein wrote twelve juvenile science fiction books between 1947 and 1958.  I found eleven of the twelve totally engaging, and yes I did read all of them while in Middle School.  Going back, I do find a few are starting to date a bit.  But I still love Farmer in the Sky, which I believe was originally done as a serial in Boy’s Life.  Tunnel in the Sky is a fascinating turn on Lord of the Flies.  The Red Planet and Between the Planets is a fully engaging pair of novels that begin to connect the Solar System eco-system.  But as I mentioned in a earlier post, Citizen of the Galaxy remains my favorite.
I’m not sure how I’d rate these two great authors total works to total works, but as Juvenile Science Fiction authors I believe Heinlein in the clear winner.
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Pilot, Astronaut, President

Aloha – As I’ve posted before, much of the characterizations for the Demeter series came from my children.  Even some of the dialog at times is almost verbatim.  We get further insights into Ryder’s crazy sister in the following sequence from Chapter 4:  Outta this World, from Demeter (available on Amazon).

Over the next few weeks Ryder frequently regretted talking his parents into letting Debbie come along. She seemed twice as irritating as normal, and her confidence seemed to be expanding beyond reality.

“I’ll bet I can get the pilot to let me fly the plane,” she boasted. She would then go on to say she was going to be a pilot when she grew up. Later, she was going to join the Air Force. Then she was going to be the President of the United States.

“After that I assume you’ll be an astronaut and become a multi-millionaire selling energy drinks,” Ryder responded sarcastically.

The fire in Debbie’s eye warned him in time, and he ducked as the TV controller sailed past his head and broke against the far wall.

“Dad’s going to kill you.” Ryder laughed as he fled to his room, locking the door behind him as Debbie’s body slammed into it.

“I’ll get you sooner or later,” she screamed. “You have to come out some time.”

Orion

Aloha – An interesting day in NASA news that is a bit ironic for my series.  The setting for the entire series is Orion’s Spur, which is also the title of the last of the five novels that will probably be out sometime in 2015.  Meanwhile, NASA was planning to launch an Orion craft today, which is intended for deep space exploration.  However, in this case deep space is defined as Mars.  I’m a fan an wishing NASA well.

Debbie and Cynthia

Although Ryder is the protagonist of the Demeter Series, two of the most interesting characters in the series are Debbie, Ryder’s younger sister, and Cynthia Flores. They are strong characters and evolve as central to the plot of the entire series, and in Debbie’s case as comic relief. One of my favorite passages in the first book gives a sense of what is to come. Ryder has been beaten up by the class bully at a school dance. Enjoy the reaction of Debbie and Cynthia.

Ryder noticed Barry’s pointed-toe cowboy boots as one came flying at his stomach. The connection knocked the wind out of him, and he could hear the laughter cut off. That was the last moment he was aware of the surroundings for the next several seconds. Repeated blows came to his face, back, and stomach, depending on how he turned to avoid further contact. He was starting to fade in and out when a chaperone (he thought) arrived and broke up the “fight.” The throbbing pain started to overcome him. “That didn’t turn out so well,” he mumbled as he threw up, then passed out.Ryder wasn’t sure how long he was out, but he was still on the floor in the same position, so it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. As shapes started to come into focus, he was wishing he was still unconscious. The throbbing pain was starting in. He’d felt pain like this before. When was it? Oh yes, when he fell out of that tree and cracked a rib. But in this case, he couldn’t make up his mind which hurt worse, his face or his back or his ribcage. Yup, that same cracked rib. Ryder wondered whether the rib was cracked or broken this time. Meanwhile, it felt like someone had gone over his face with a hammer. No, that was cowboy boots, wasn’t it? he thought.

With his vision back into focus, he saw Mr. Small standing over him in an almost protective crouch and trying to check his pulse at the same time. There was some sort of altercation going on beyond his vision, and screaming, he thought.

“Mr. Small, I’m alive,” Ryder croaked. He realized he must have been kicked in the throat as well.

“We’re calling an ambulance. Lie still.” Mr. Small was using his reassuring voice.

“I’m fine.” Ryder tried to get up, but the throbbing made it easy to relent to Mr. Small’s severe look.

“Come on kids, the show’s over. Back away. We need some air here,” Mr. Small commanded.

The crowd seemed to disperse quickly as there was something else going on just out of Ryder’s vision. Finally, he was able to make out something that made him wonder if he was delirious. Debbie seemed to be flying in circles and he caught glimpses of Cynthia swinging just below her. Suddenly, Debbie seemed to disappear, and there was a great deal of laughter. Ryder thought, I must really be fading. Maybe I’m dying. Then he heard another sharp voice. Was that Mrs. Peterson?

“Get off him you two!”

There was an abrupt screech. Ryder had never heard anything quite so terrifying in his life. It sounded like…well nothing Ryder could imagine. Then his senses came to him quickly. Barry was obviously beating up Debbie. The adrenalin kicked in, and Ryder rose to his feet, holding his side. What he saw made him start to chuckle. His ribs just couldn’t take it. Barry Hales’ voice could now be heard distinctly yelling, “Get them off me! Get them off me!” Mrs. Peterson seemed to be taking her time removing Cynthia and Debbie from Barry, who was now collapsed on the floor. Debbie had two handfuls of hair that had apparently belonged to Barry in her clenched fists. Ryder saw a glaring bald spot on one side of Barry’s head. Cynthia’s foot was retracting from one of those spots guys just don’t like to think about getting kicked. Ryder started to laugh, then spluttered, “Oh no,” and fell unconscious to the floor.

This is an excerpt from chapter 2 of Demeter. The first couple of chapters can be read for free on the Amazon site for the book. Again, Enjoy.

Citizen of the Galaxy

Aloha – Debbie (or her alter ego) has been ill for some time now so I’m jumping in.  In 6th grade I fell in love with Science Fiction, especially anything written by Robert Heinlein.  Later, he shifted to more mature topics, but his young adult and/or middle school written has stuck with me and inspired me to some extent relative to what I write.

One of my favorite Heinlein novels was “Citizen of the Galaxy”.  I managed to pick up a true first addition of the 1957 novel that I’ve added to my small collection of Heinlein memorabilia.  The protagonist in the novel is a young boy, sold at auction in a far off world.  He is raised by a beggar.  But nothing is as it seems.  Baslim is actually a spy, and after crossing large swaths of the galaxy, it turns out that Thorby is much more than a beggar’s adopted son.  A great tale where the good guys are truly good guys (and girls).  It does a very good job of showing different socio-economic systems and cultures.  But at 13 years old I really didn’t care.  I just wanted a great adventure story.