Travel to other planets is now a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity of finding habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. There’s a problem though—because the spaceships are slower than light, any communication between the exploring ships and Earth would take years.
Tom and Pat are identical twin teenagers. As twins they’ve always been close, so close that it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. When they are recruited by the Long Range Foundation, the twins find out that they can, indeed, peer into each other’s thoughts. Along with other telepathic duos, they are enlisted to be the human transmitters and receivers that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. But there’s a catch: one of the twins has to stay behind—and that one will grow old—while the other explores the depths of space and returns as a young man still.
©1956 ; 1983 by Robert A. Heinlein; 2003 by the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“One of the superb Heinlein stories that has excitement, urbanity, humanity, rationality, pace, understanding, and is a joy to read.” (New York Times)
“Rarely has Heinlein pushed his imagination further…A vivid, stirring experience.” (Chicago Tribune)
“He showed us where the future is.” (Tom Clancy)
I think I must have been around 12 or 13 and just starting Jr High School when my twin sister checked "Time for the Stars" out of the school library. She was disappointed that we weren't telepathic, but I was curious about the book and picked it up. It was the first of many hours enjoying the worlds of RAH. Although this was one of the series of books that Heinlein wrote for young people, it was, and still is, an engaging story for people of any age. Heinlein is at his best when describing ordinary people struggling with extraordinary situations. If you are a Heinlein fan, you won't be disappointed. As with so many of Heinlein's books, I look forward to listening to this one again.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Time for the Stars is one of my favorite Heinlein Juveniles, and I like his juveniles better than his books for adults, so I guess that makes Time of the Stars one of my favorite Heinlein works. It’s got everything that makes his stories so much fun to read, especially for kids. Likeable heroes, sweet relationships, real emotions, a touch of romance, a bit of physics, spaceship travel and exploration of distant planets. (And also, as usual, there’s a hint of incest — romance with a cousin — and a few complaints about taxes. It is a Heinlein novel, after all.)
In Time for the Stars, twins Tom and Pat join an experimental scientific study to see if telepathy might be a viable way for Earth to communicate with her exploring spaceships. It’s thought that if telepathy could work for anyone, it would be identical twins. Tom and Pat are excited to be involved, but they know this means that one of them will get to explore space while the other one has to stay home to be the other end of the telepathic line. This fact has a lot of ramification for the brothers. First of all, the boys have to decide who gets to go. Second, the one who leaves will probably never see his family again. Third, the boys will now age at different rates because of relativity, so even if the one who leaves ever comes back, he will be much younger than his twin.
All of this gives Time for the Stars an emotional texture that makes this story feel weightier than your average YA SF adventure. Also, Time for the Stars is not just a story about exploring space — it’s about family, friendship, loneliness, love, guilt, and the power of the human mind. In fact, I think Heinlein spends more time exploring the brain than exploring distant galaxies.
Time for the Stars is an entertaining and moving YA space adventure that will probably please most adults as well as kids. I listened to Barrett Whitener narrate Blackstone Audio’s version. I thought his voice, tone, and cadence were perfect for this emotional story.
I'm not really a valid reviewer - RAH was my first love in Science Fiction - and in spite of his well known flaws, this is one of his better Juveniles. If you are new to Robert Heinlein, he was one of the first SF writers to really emphasize accuracy in his science - so while the basic driver in this book is fictional, the way it works tends to be accurate to the knowlege of physics when written.
So in this book, the Long Range Foundation [Dedicated to our Decendants] is taking on the exploration for new planets for man to live on. And they have discovered some interesting things about twins. Identical twins, Pat and Tom are encouraged to join the expedition, and this story is the experience of the space-side twin as they experience both space and time travel. And of course, the boy, becomes a man. It's got a decent pace, a good plot line, a good crew on the ship and a satisfying outcome.
Audiobook Junkie... Love all types of Science Fiction
Heinlein was ahead of his time. He was an extremely inventive and imaginative author. I am not sure what order to read his books, although this one reminded me a lot of Star Man Jones. There wasn't much action for the most part, but there were some exciting parts and twists. This book is about discovery and exploration of planets for colonization in a future society of Earth where space travel is possible. Perspective takes place through the eyes of one character and the story writes like an autobiography over the course of years of his life. The basic premise is that people have discovered that twins can communicate telepathically. To date Earth has had trouble hearing back from long range scout ships that venture off to explore habitable worlds at the speed of light due to the great distances involved. The use of these twins for instantaneous communication may make it possible colonize worlds faster. The concept of space and time are explored in this novel. In addition, the effects of how time ages one twin differently than the other due to traveling at the speed of light is explored. We get a taste of alien worlds, like the Star Man Jones book, and once again I find myself wishing there was more meat to the story. But I do appreciate Time For The Stars for what it is meant to be, a light, stand alone, discovery, science fiction novel.
I thought I'd read all the great Heinlein books when I stumbled across this little juvenile gem on sale. It is such a well written human story comparable with "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
No, same. I just like when the perforer reads the book not performes the book.
The second planat were they lost a lot of the crew.
The main forgot his name, whoops.
No, to long for one sitting.
Author of The Zochtil, Read by Nick Sullivan
This is one of my favorite RAH books and I was so excited to see an audio of it! Now they just need to make an audio of Tunnel in the Sky. But Time for the Stars is one of RAH best books it tells the age old story of two twins separated by the affects of relativistic space flight.
Quite possibly. Barrett Whitner sounds perfect as the lead character.
He perfectly captures the personality of the lead character. He could've been almost telling youn a story about himself.
I am always a little leary of reading older sci-fi books. You never know how outdated some of the science may be. But Heinlein, like Asimov and Arthur C. Clark, manages to keep to the story and the characters and not get bogged down in pseudo science that is doomed to be outdated someday.
Every book is worth considering. It's the kind of consideration on what to do with the book that differs.
I always enjoy new concepts in science fiction, and while this book brings nothing that I haven't seen before in other stories, it does present the concepts and the characters in interesting ways.
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When one looks past the dated dialogue that identifies this as being authored in 1956, the concepts of time dilation at relativistic speeds has some fantastic possibilities for drama. "Don't look so dang sourpuss," and "Gee, that's swell" are actual lines, but it is almost as if Heinlein anticipates the linguistic drift that would occur in the decades to follow publication when his protagonist, removed from his descendants by decades spent traveling the stars at light speed, encounters difficulties deciphering the euphemisms and vernacular when he speaks to those of the younger generations. The discoveries and marvels encountered on the voyage are really secondary to the human drama of inter-generational strain as lives proceed at two different paces, forcing divided families to adapt.
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