Art's uncle, the nuclear physicist Dr. Donald Cargraves, offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to construct and crew a rocket that will take them to the moon. Cargraves believes their combined ingenuity and enthusiasm can actually make this dream come true. But there are those who don't share their dream and who will stop at nothing to keep their rocket grounded.
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©1947 Robert A. Heinlein; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
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Originally reviewed at FanLit.
When I was a kid I loved the “Heinlein Juveniles.” Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein’s first Juvenile, is one I missed back then. It won’t hold up well today (actually, it wouldn’t have held up well when I was reading Heinlein Juveniles in the 1980s) but sometimes it’s fun to read these old science fiction stories for kids and I did have fun recently reading Rocket Ship Galileo even though I am very much aware of its flaws. Let’s remember that it was published in 1947, just after World War II and well before we managed to put a man on the moon.
Ross, Art, and Morrie (I love those retro names!) are three teenage boys who love science and each have special geeky skills. When Morrie’s uncle, a Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist, discovers that the boys are building a rocket ship, he gives them some funds and a little help and off they all go to the moon. When they get there they discover that they’re not the first ones there. The humans who’ve covertly come before have dangerous plans. Can the boys stop them before the bad guys destroy the Earth?
Okay, that’s just fun, right? In the year 2013 it’s impossible to take Rocket Ship Galileo seriously. I don’t know if they did back in 1947. I suspect not because I doubt anyone thought it was possible to build a space ship in your backyard or to mail order space suits and asbestos shoes. Still, boys can dream, and Rocket Ship Galileo is definitely an exciting dream, especially when you get to not only fly to the moon, but kill Nazis and save the Earth on top of it all. Too cool!
Other than the outlandishness of it all, the main problem with Rocket Ship Galileo is all the teachy technobabble. Some of it is real science, some of it is made up (I hope kids can tell this apart), most of it is dated, and a lot of it is boring because it’s delivered in Uncle Cargraves’ lessons or the boys recitation of what they’ve previously learned. Heinlein has an issue with this in his adult novels, too. If the lessons don’t turn kids off they might enjoy experiencing the fantasies of teenage boys in the 1940s.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Spider Robinson who has the tone just right. When he narrates the boys’ parts he sounds appropriately wide-eyed, innocent, and geeky. Golly, Mr. Robinson, great job!
Published in 1947, this classic science fiction has adventure, political intrigue and some hard science in it. Very little of it has been disproved even though it was 20 years ahead of its time. The future would be so different now if they'd opened up space then to commercial interests.
Hey I am the first to write a review I will make history. Ha ha. Anyways, I am so happy that someone with the talent as a reader (i.e. Spider Robinson), with the clout (again Spider Robinson), and hopefully the time and inclination to do so (once more Spider Robinson) has taken it upon himself to bring other Robert Heinlein books to the Audiobook format. I hope this is the just the start. I love listening to the Heinlein audiobooks, and Spider Robinson in my opinoin did a suitable enough job as a performer to justify more of them. Even if it is just another of the juvenile novels such as "Space Cadet" or "Tunnel in the Sky" or "Starman Jones" or "The Star Beast" or "Between Planets". Spider, please do this, you are our only hope, and people will buy these audiobooks. Gabrielle de Cure should do "Podykayne of Mars" or perhaps the guy who did "Friday" should do that one. But I vote for Spider Robinson to do the shorter ones with the lighter story lines. As for this book if you don't enjoy the light adventure story about some American heroes who inadvertently save the planet; well then what do you enjoy?
My two favorite topics are Baseball and Military History. But my favorite books of all time are Starship Troopers and Ready Player One.
These older Heinlein stories are really so much fun and quintessential reading for young and old who cherish authentic science fiction. The genre has grown so much over the past 100 years and is exploring new avenues today that it's easy to forget (or rather never know) what really inspired today's writers... unless you read what they read. For me, Rocket Ship Galileo is one of those Big Bang novels. I mean seriously Nazis on the Moon?
That's such a pop-culture topic today with movies, but Heinlein did this in 1947, shortly after the end of WWII and the demise of the Nazis... or was it? I did some research and found only one other earlier reference to Nazis in space and that was before WWII by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I normally listen at 3x speed and had no problem with this book. I've enjoyed Spider Robinson's narration before, but I only give 5 stars on narration to the best of the best. The book itself is fun, but not a comprehensive story (and not meant to be so), so I couldn't give a full 5 stars.
Dated science, Father-knows-best parenting, credibility-stretching luck. I love a world where teens don't cuss, respect their elders, and everything works out in the end. Entertaining in a way the author never intended. It's so interesting to learn what passed for scientific knowledge when the story was initially published in 1947.
I remember reading this, for the first time bac kok in the mid 1960's, when I was in Junior High. It was dated and corny even then. But it stands up, well, except for the dangers of zinc vapor, and a few other things. I imagined that it was possible that one scientist could coax a few high school kids into a moon trip and I imagined myself going along.
While this feels like it was written by the numbers, it is still a good, must-listen-to yarn. It captures the wonder, excitement, and dangers of exploration and science. Can't say it wasn't predictable -- you know they'll overcome every obstacle they face -- but, honestly, it didn't matter. I enjoyed this. If you want to encourage kids to get interested in STEM fields, having them listen to this book's not a bad idea.
Post WW2 flavor & tech just make it interesting. Spider Robinson resells his mentor's stories like his own with flavor!
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