Monday, 9 February 2015

We're All Citizens

I recently just finished up a book I had never read before. This one was Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein. I have to say, it was a real treat.

Young boy, Thorby, is rescued by an old beggar named Baslim from a slave trade, and slowly learns not only his place in the world he currently lives in, but eventually his place in the world. What we have here is a good old fashioned coming of age story, only in space. Thorby starts the book as a boy and ends the book as a young man ready to take on the world and more aware of his place in it.

There's a lot of story here, especially since this is considered one of his "juveniles", and many characters that come and go from the story at any time-- much like life. Mr. Heinlein creates a vibrant galaxy of planets and social systems from traders to slavers to the world of the bureaucrats and yet more than that. This is why one reads science fiction (Yes, I'm calling it that, elitists) for the imagination and wonder, and this book is absolutely chock full of it.

Without going so far as to spoil it, I would just say that everything in this story is connected to each other and all combines together to make Thorby the man he becomes. It's not unlike Starship Troopers in that case, but this book succeeds even better by covering a much wider time-frame and having many more interesting characters peppering the galaxy. Where Citizen succeeds the most is in making Thorby both relate-able in that you root for him and frustrating in how he is a kid who makes mistakes-- but by the end of the journey you feel relief that this boy who was once nothing more than a slave becomes a true citizen of the galaxy.

I haven't read a lot of Heinlein (Both a personal failing and that his seniles churn my stomach) but this book is a sign that I surely should. If you are a fan of science fiction, or haven't read a whole lot, or enjoy coming of age stories, then this is definitely a must read. Citizen of the Galaxy is more than worth your time.

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