One of Heinlein's best-loved works, The Rolling Stones follows the rollicking adventures of the Stone family as they tour the solar system.
It doesn't seem likely for twins to have the same middle name. Even so, it's clear that Castor and Pollux Stone both have "Trouble" written in that spot on their birth certificates. Of course, anyone who's met their grandmother Hazel would know they came by it honestly.
Join the Stone twins as they connive, cajole, and bamboozle their way across the solar system in the company of the most high-spirited and hilarious family in all of science fiction.... It all starts when the twins decide that life on the lunar colony is too dull and buy their own spaceship to go into business for themselves. Before long they are headed for the furthest reaches of the stars, with stops on Mars, some asteroids, Titan, and beyond.
This lighthearted tale has some of Heinlein's sassiest dialogue - not to mention the famous flat cats incident. Oddly enough, it's also a true example of real family values, for when you're a Stone, your family is your highest priority.
©2009 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks
Heinlein's juveniles have always been among my favorite SF - I liked a lot of them more than some of his later novels written for adults. I read The Rolling Stones so long ago I barely remembered it, but some of it came back to me as I listened to it again as an audiobook.
Alas, the years have diminished my fondness for this light-hearted space romp somewhat. While it was a fun adventure about a wisecracking, hyper-competent family of adventurers seeking their fortune (and something adventurous) out in the solar system, there isn't much to impress the modern SF reader about flying a rocket ship to Mars, Venus, and beyond.
The Stones consist of Castor and Pollux, trouble-making teenage twins always scheming to get rich and prove they're the smartest people in any room, who drive most of the adventure with their original idea to buy an old mining ship. Somehow their parents are talked into this harebrained scheme, with a little manipulation by Grandma Hazel, who is a crusty old survival of the Lunar rebellion in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and can continue to hold her own with anyone a fraction of her age. The Stone family is rounded out by teenage daughter Meade and their little brother.
As in most Heinlein stories, everyone is super-competent: the twins have what nowadays would be considered a graduate-level understanding of mathematics, which their father, the moral center and patriarch of the family despite, by his own admission, having the lowest IQ, demonstrates isn't nearly good enough. Mrs. Stone is a doctor, Grandma Hazel is... well, Grandma Hazel, and even Meade, who does little more than fill in the "girl" box in the story, is smart and accomplished in a few domains.
The Stone family is a quintessential upper-middle-class white family circa 1952, when this story was written, flying out into space under the wise and benevolent leadership of Father Knows Best. And while Heinlein works out starship physics and planetary travel in great detail (gotta love those slide rules that always make an appearance!), making this story the sort of crunchy, "believable" hard SF that would have thrilled young would-be space pioneers back in the 50s, obviously to us in the 21st century, the idea that people will ever be jaunting about the solar system in private spaceships the way pioneers used to go west with little more than a mule and a pack of supplies certainly seems naive.
As an introduction to Heinlein's juveniles, with very little that is challenging or novel, but much to excite a young reader who's into space and adventure, I do think this book holds a worthy place in the canon of Golden Age science fiction.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
Heinlein first released The Rolling Stones 63 years ago in 1952 when I was nine years old. My grandchildren are now reading this and other novels in Robert Heinlein's juveniles (now called YA) series. This novels was intended for children in the 9 to 15 age range. It is a great science fiction story about the Stone family as they travel in their own space ship within our solar system. Like all Heinlein novels there are some funny situations and lines as well as some wise and thoughtful ones. I'm a bit outside the target age range, but I enjoyed The Rolling Stones!
Love a good mystery, but don't care much for pure thrillers.
I don't read much sci-fi but bought this Daily Deal as I did recall enjoying Heinlein at a certain time of my life. It's not much of a story, but I'm not sorry I listened. Heinlein goes out of his way to explain concepts of elementary physics necessary to navigate and live on the moon or in space. I found the dialog stilted and the father an exceeding tiresome disciplinarian. The mother, a medical doctor, quietly goes about doing her own thing while seemingly deferring to her husband, as does her mother-in-law. The two teenage twin geniuses are the heart of the book, and I can imagine youngsters identifying with them. Given that it elaborates a vision of the future, it's funny in retrospect to hear them using slide rules and minding their decimal points. Published in 1952, it is even few years before I got my first slide rule. In retrospect, it's hard to believe that we used slide rules all the way through college in the mid-60's. It's a pity Heinlein didnt live to see the impact of LSI, the internet, and smart phones. It's also a pity I won't live long enough to see quantum computers, which may have an even bigger impact on technology than anything we've witnessed thus far. I also wish I could witness the revolution in medical practice that is already underway, moving it from a scientifically motivated guesswork to an informed application of fundamental biological science.
Ok,so I had the best intentions.I started listening for work, but now I'm re-discovering the classic sci-fi books that I read as a kid.
This was a fun listen as I drove between appointments. A story of a family who buys a star ship and the adventures they find.... I just wish there was more to the story.
Who remembers slide rules? Set aside any ideas about how the future turned out so drastically different from Heinlein's vision; read his early YA novels the same way you would H.G.Wells. Long ago, in an alternate universe.......
The plot: a pair of brilliant twins and their brilliant family buy a space ship and set off on what is supposed to be a simple vacation but turns into an adventure.
The Rolling Stones is very episodic: it comes across like a 1950s weekly 30-minute TV series. The highly improbable genius family is the stuff of fantasy. The mid-twentieth century sexism is apparent, though somewhat mitigated by two very strong female characters. There is a four-year old who is very poorly and inconsistently written: the kid plays chess but no one thinks it possible to explain that acceleration is going to be uncomfortable. (I allow that even bright 2-year-olds can't be made to behave on an airplane, but 4-year-olds can. Give the kid dramamine or the like, but the treatment used here seems extreme.) I'm a grandmother. I like 4-year-olds. This kid really tries my patience, and the family encourages him. Ugh.
The main characters are twin teen-aged boys. Their relationship is interesting, and based on my observations of several sets of twins during my teaching years, I'd say it's done well. The way they play off each other is sometimes delightful, sometimes obnoxious, but generally realistic.
The narration is only so-so. Pretty good for the most part but the high-pitched voice-breaking of one of the twins is annoying, as is the whiny 4-year-old. When I read the book I liked the mother, but in the audiobook her voice is so cloying I kept wanting to slap her. Weiner differentiates voices enough that there is never any problem knowing who's talking.
Okay, a lot of criticism here, but I still enjoyed it. Heinlein got really crazy later on, and sexist to the point of nausea, but his early stories (up to 1960, pre-Stranger in a Strange Land) are delightful examples of how much fun sic-fi was in the 40s and 50s -- much like the Westerns of that period, uncomplicated, the adventure of life on the frontier, happy endings. It belongs in a different category than the sic-fi of today, not better or worse, just completely different, and (at least for those of us of a certain age) a lot of fun to revisit.
To listen to a great book while I knit is heaven on earth.
My title kind of says it all. I had a good time listening to this . I think that all the author intended. Our heroes are 2 teenage boys and they act quite predictably. The family dynamics are feel good. This book was written some time ago and it feels like it. The reader is a great job.
This isn't a sophisticated, modern science fiction book, but I enjoyed it's humor and the predictions Heinlein made for life in the future.
St. Louis, Missouri
Though not s devotee of the genre myself, I’ve known lots science fiction fans. More than one has urged me to delve into Robert Heinlein’s work. So when The Rolling Stones was offered at a knockdown price, I delved.
What did I expect? Friends have always told me that, untethered from earth, sci-fi lets its practitioners look at life and death, love and loss (in short, all the great themes) in new and ingenious ways. What did I get? A great story about the kind of family we’d all want to be part of.
I’m including even the grandmother, who verges dangerously toward hokum at times. And the twins, whose precociousness, though perhaps new to readers in 1952, wears a shade less well these days. But overall it doesn’t matter. Heinlein balances ordinary domestic frictions with genuine affection to create a believable atmosphere of familial happiness. Aside from the fact that I can’t plot an orbit or recalibrate a gyro, the father was the kind of dad I strive to be, using humor and good-natured sarcasm to shepherd his flock though the asteroid belts.
And it's the humor that is the most engaging aspect of this book. I found myself laughing out loud. So far from tackling the Great Issues, The Rolling Stones is simply the story of a human family with a terrific sense of humor, set in an indefinitely dated future. True, they all seem more advanced mentally than you or me. The second youngest child (6 years old?) wins chess games with his grandmother by reading her mind. The grandmother can do higher math in her head. Together, they can play mental chess over a phone line. Just getting around in space, with all those calculations of orbits and mass ratios, would make me a confirmed homebody. But for all their advanced mathematics, essentially this is the story of a happy family who cares very deeply about each other. And when danger threatens you really care about them, too.
As it ages, I suppose all sci-fi suffers for the projections it doesn’t get right. In the case of The Rolling Stones, Detroit is still making vehicles, New York is still the center of the TV industry and computers are strictly tools for plotting your course through the stars, not watching funny cat videos. The size of the Stone family is another thing Heinlein didn’t get right—how was he to foresee the devastation of the Pill and Roe vs. Wade? On the other hand, I’m betting that, if we ever do start inhabiting other planets, Heinlein is correct in assuming our smothering web of regulations and taxes will come with us. But spot-on or not, I enjoyed the blend of many post-WWII attitudes and assumptions (Mrs. Stone is, first of all, a “Mrs.” and the best cook on board) with futuristic details (she’s also a gifted and dedicated doctor, her sex being no surprise to anyone). It was like seeing one of those sci-fi magazine covers from the 50’s come to life. And no doubt I’m not the first person to suspect Heinlein’s flat cats provided the inspiration for the famous “Trouble with Tribbles” episode of Star Trek.
As for the science in this fiction, I took it on trust as a combination of what-was-known-then with what-might-be. I realize there are those who enjoy and even understand the technical side of stories like this. As with the nautical minutiae of the Aubrey-Maturin stories, I let it all pass by as the idle wind which I respect not. (Is the propulsion-mass calibrating with the fissure rods and stabilizing the quantum gyros? That’s good. The spaceship must be turning around.)
Finally, Tom Weiner does an excellent job with a wide variety of characters and voices. The grandmother’s tinge of hokum might be his fault, but the twins’ voices, especially Castor’s (or was it Pollux’s?) pre-adulthood rasp, were inspired. Where there wasn’t a cue in the text for justifying a certain accent for a character, his distribution of American Southern, Brooklynese, British Isles, and Slavic voices created a polyglot atmosphere—something you’d expect on any frontier. Weiner’s tone when narrating in between the slabs of dialogue holds everything together nicely and keeps the story moving.
Paid reviewers, after two weeks get 4-8 votes and have that power to strike unhelpful against others. Check their history! Your money!
NINETY FIVE INDEED, LAST WEEK YOU WERE EIGHTY FIVE.
IT'S BEEN A HARD WEEK
2009 IS THE RENEWED COPYRIGHT. The original copyright was 1952 and there was a condensed version in Boy's Life. I mention this, because I believe this should be a Sci-Fi Classic not a Contemporary. It is a great book, written before Heinlein got into Free Love and when he thought Family and learning were important. There is a lot of math and science in the book, but it is not a dry book. The math and science should encourage children of even today, to take their studies serious. It is also full of lots of humor. No laugh out loud funny, but funny anyways. It has a half way decent story and some great characters. Talk about women's lib, the mother is a doctor and the grandmother a engineer. The grandmother was my favorite character. The father is smart, but the least smart in the family. He knows it, but he has lots of common sense.
HAND ME THAT SLIDE RULE
It is dated of course, but still a fun and enjoyable book today. A book good for all ages and all genders. It includes slide rules, Boy Scouts, and Adventure Serials. AS LEGAL AS CHURCH ON SUNDAY.
NORMAL, THAT'S A WORD WITH NO MEANING
This is a relatively delightful piece from the author of Stranger in a Strange Land, Girl Friday and Starship Troopers. The Rolling Stones, sans Mick and Keith, is a story about the family Stone living in the Lunar Colony. Sporting a family of six plus Grandma they purchase a small cargo cruiser to tour the solar system and have adventures while discovering things.
Comes across like Father Knows Best meets Lost in Space with real science fiction-fact. The rockets are all NERVAs using Hydrogen as the propellant of choice. They use Hohmann Transfer Orbits to maximize fuel efficiency and experience real zero gravity issues.
A fun work and though dated still reads true. Three out of five entertainment units.
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