February 06, 2003

The Star Beast, by Robert A. Heinlein

John Thomas Stuart has a friend, and a problem. The friend, whose name is Lummox, is an alien creature with six legs that Stuart's great-grandfather brought back from a trip to the stars. Lummox is about the size of a pair of hippos, stronger than a dozen or so elephants, and will eat anything it can find. Anything. Steel girders, high explosives, rose bushes, you name it. Lummox can talk, but appears to be about as smart as, say, a three year old. Do you see the problem?

And then a space ship--a very large space ship--appears in the Solar System and announces that if they don't get Lummox back, they'll take steps. Informed sources assure the powers that be that those steps are liable to include complete planetary destruction.

What's a young man to do?

If you've been following the web log for the last few months, you'll remember that I've been trying to find all of the early Heinlein novels I hadn't previously read. I'm not sure, but I think this is the last one. The interesting thing is, it's written during the period in which Heinlein wrote all his juveniles, and it does feature a young adult hero and heroine, but it doesn't have the same tone as his other juveniles. The politicking that goes on at the end has the tone of Stranger in a Strange Land or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; I was actually rather surprised that it wasn't written about ten years later.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 6, 2003 06:39 PM