Monday, February 1, 2010

The Hugos: Farmer In The Sky

Sometimes I think Robert A. Heinlein's work is the greatest justification for the entire genre of science fiction. The second retro Hugo award winning novel, written 1950, awarded 2001, was 'Farmer In the Sky'.
I give it an unabashed 4 stars out of 4. I never met a mid-20th century boys' space adventure by this guy I didn't love as much as a cuddly Martian flatcat.
The protagonist, Bill Lermer, is a boy scout helping colonize and terraform Ganymede with his family. BOY, HOWDY, DOES ADVENTURE ENSUE!
While I found it difficult to like the characters in most Asimov books (except his robots, I loves me some robots!!!) I have loved RAH's characters since I myself was a boy scout, grinding up rocks and futzing about with composting on an airless moon of planet Jupiter back in the distant future (probably the 1980's)
Bill's character is no exception. He's tenacious and willing to work hard to achieve his dreams. Maybe I was like that once. Nowadays I feel more like the lazy, bitter, entitled Mr. Saunders, blaming his failures on everything under the Big Red Spot.
Heinlein was gung ho for the pioneer spirit. It's partly due to his influence that I find myself inspired by it as well. Exploration, discovery, intrepidity... other... names of spaceships.
If I'm lucky, I could live to see a human on Ganymede. MAYBE. Here it is 2010 and nobody even bothers with the Moon anymore, let alone Mars. Maybe we could all stop blowing each other to bits for a while and look up. Get out. Pioneer.
Of course, the dark side of pioneering, historically, would be the indigenous people who get crushed. While I agree with RAH that, long term, the only hope for our species is to spread out to more than one solar system, I hope we don't plan to wreck up the place when we get there.

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