Red Planet
by Robert Heinlein

A Prometheus Award winning novel about Martians and people from Earth who live in colonies on Mars. It is unlike other books by Heinlein in that the hero is not an intemperate, know-it-all, macho man. He is an intemperate adolescent boy named Jim who has a friend named Fred who is a bit smarter and who keeps him from doing anything too rash by talking sense to him.

Jim has a little Martian furball friend he calls Willis who goes everywhere with him and who records and plays back everything her hears. Jim and Fred are sent away to a boarding school that is run by a new headmaster who is a petty dictator. When the headmaster confiscates Willis, Jim decides to liberate him, quit school, and escape back to his home colony. Fred agrees to go along with him. They rescue Willis who plays back a conversation between the headmaster and the top bureaucrat of the Martian colonies. The conversation reveals a plot to prevent the annual migration of colonists to the warmer climate near the equator. The boys need to travel hundreds of miles to get home and to warn their parents about the plot. On the way they are befriended by 12-foot-tall Martians. The boys convince their fathers that the administration is up to no good.

Their fathers organize the rest of the colonists who rise up in an act of civil disobedience and migrate without authorization. The bad guys confront the colonists with gunfire. The colonists win. Happy ending with some surprises about Martians.

Year Read: 2001


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