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Space Cadet by Robert A. Heinlein

Space Cadet (1948)

by Robert A. Heinlein

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Heinlein Juveniles (2)

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The first sixty percent of the story follows young protagonist Matt Dodson as he undergoes rigorous training as a cadet in the Solar Patrol Space Academy. While there, he befriends fellow cadets Tex Jarman, Oscar Jensen from the Venus colony, and Pierre “Pete” Armand from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.

Upon graduating from the Academy, Matt, Tex, and Oscar are assigned to the Patrol vessel Aes Triplex on a mission to the asteroid belt to locate the Pathfinder, a vessel reported missing during a scientific mission.

After successfully locating the lost ship, damaged as a result of a freak meteor impact, the Pathfinder is repaired and flown to Deimos, the outermost moon of Mars. Meanwhile, the Aes Triplex is assigned to investigate a deadly native uprising against the crew of the Gary, a merchant vessel that landed in the equatorial region of Venus. The cadets depart the Aes Triplex in a small rocket commanded by Lieutenant Thurlow, who is knocked unconscious after a perilous landing—leaving the cadets stranded in the swamps of Venus. Fortunately, Oscar is well acquainted with the customs of the amphibious natives, but can the cadets maintain peace with the rankled “Venerians” long enough to find a way off the planet and save Thurlow’s life?

Space Cadet differs from some of Heinlein’ other juvenile SF novels—such as Spaceman Jones and Citizen of the Galaxy—in that it does not offer much detail about the main protagonist’s background and is not a “rags to riches” tale. By the time we meet Matt Dodson, he has already arrived at the Academy fresh from his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and returns home only once for a brief visit during leave. In fact, once Matt, Tex, and Oscar are assigned to the Aes Triplex, the role of the main protagonist is shared among the three.

I found that much of the first 65 percent of the book dealing with the cadets’ training could have been trimmed or condensed. Nevertheless, Space Cadet is a reasonably enjoyable adventure, especially in the final chapters dealing with the Pathfinder and the cadets’ subsequent adventures on Venus. ( )
  pgiunta | Jul 21, 2018 |
This is one of Heinlein's well-known "juveniles" which are in fact often my favorite most enjoyable books, partly because I read them when I was in fact a juvenile. This is not my absolute favorite (that would be The Rolling tones aka Space Family Stone) but it is good. It is about a young man going through the notorious tough course to become a member of the Interplanetary Patrol, followed by his early adventures in the patrol, culminating in
an adventure with the aliens of Venus in which he is saved by his understanding of alien customs. Along the way, it includes a lot of historical background for the traditions of the patrol with a reference to Dahlquist, the hero of "The Long Watch" though other aspects of the history in Heinlein's short stories do not match (there was a very different first space trip to the Moon from the one in "The Man Who Sold the Moon," for example.) In some ways it follows the traditions of the "school story --there is a cynical cadet who reappears later as an adult villain, for example. One point I picked up on my latest reading is a very strong emphasis on the equal treatment of cadets of all races and cultures (though they all seem to be male, unlike his later version in Starship Troopers). ( )
  antiquary | Feb 14, 2018 |
An excellent Heinlein juvenile - filled with lessons and wisdom but built into a story that does not suffer or drag for their inclusion. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
The solar system is a large, exciting and wildly dangerous place, and to bring any kind of order to it requires a special kind of man, and any special kind of man has to start somewhere. As a special kind of boy, usually. Because let’s get one thing quite clear here from the get go, there are no women space cadets, or even girl space cadets. They stay with their feet solidly on the ground of whatever planet or moon they call home and make cake.
Now that’s settled, we can get on with things. It’s the future. There are rocket ships and space travel. Mankind is colonising the solar system with the sort of sensitivity that usually applies to colonisation and, as mankind exports the necessary ingenuity and advanced thinking that making surviving and even thriving in the harsh environments of space and beyond, he also takes his baser elements. This is the frontier.
It requires a special sort of chap (no chapesses, I think we have established that) to keep order when your beat is millions upon millions of miles across, and before you can enter the ranks of the unimaginatively named Space Patrol that keeps order, or at least what humans consider order, across the solar system, you have to earn your place. Space is vast, rocket ships are tiny, expensive and, as we learn after the ‘unfortunate incident on the launch pad’, fragile. The men (no women, did I mention that?) of the Space Patrol are a mixture of ambassador, policeman, military, peacekeeper and explorer, and you have to be a special kind of man (not woman, not even a woman disguised as a man) to join the Space Patrol.
First step is being the right kind of boy (not girl, not even a girl disguised as a boy) judged worthy of becoming a space cadet. This involves a rigorous selection process of both physical and psychological tests designed to discover if you are plucky and clever enough to be trusted to look after others in space and hostile environments where not only is help very, very far away but you are that help.
Step forward Matt Dodson who, together with some chums, passes the tests and begins the process of rigorous training that will one day earn him a seat in Space Patrol.
Actually, the first half of the book is good stuff, told at a cracking pace. Matt is hardly flawless but to even get a place in the selection process he has to prove he’s got potential. The testing is good fun, especially when the candidates are strapped to a rocket on a rail and fired into a canyon at increasingly higher gee forces. Obviously they are not big on health and safety in the future.
Cadet school is rather less where to ray-gun an alien for maximum effect before claiming the mineral rights of the smoking corpse’s planet for Earth, and rather more about the science necessary to keep a spaceship going in space for prolonged periods.
The second half of the book is essentially the field test. A series of events land the three cadets on Venus with a broken ship, no way home and a very bleak looking future. They must rely on all their training and native intelligence, as well as the intelligence of the natives, to save themselves and get back home.
It’s all tremendously enjoyable. There’s threat and peril and plucky lads (no ladesses) winning out against all sorts of challenges and what is underlined, in bold, twice, is that it takes somebody really special to be a Space Patrolman. There’s even enough mythology about the founding of the Space Patrol and its role in an expanding sphere of mankind’s colonisation to give the reader pause and consider the deeper meaning of what it means to keep law and order at the outer reaches of civilization.
The first half of the book deals with the selection process for an elite body of men, with the second half of the book explaining just why the selection process is so rigorous.
A strong story with a straightforward plot with no surprises, but it’s no less gripping for all that. ( )
1 vote macnabbs | Sep 4, 2015 |
This is one of Heinlein's "juveniles"--that is, what we now call young adult. I tend to prefer quite a few of those to his adult novels such as Stranger in a Strange Land. I wouldn't count this among his best in that category though--of which my favorite is Citizen of the Galaxy. I'd say it's only about average for Heinlein--which still means it's very good indeed. This one centers on the "Space Patrol" (think Starfleet) which polices the solar system. I've seen this called a space opera version of The Three Musketeers and I think that captures it pretty succinctly. But beyond Heinlein telling a good yarn like most of his science fiction there are some thoughtful, and though-provoking aspects. Yes, some aspects are dated--as has been pointed out more than once in reviews that's especially true of how he deals with gender. This is very much a man's world--or solar system in this case. But hey, this is the fifties, and I'm willing to make allowances for that in order to enjoy this. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 29, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heinlein, Robert A.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borchert, BernhardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Breese, AlanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davies, Gordon CCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
di Fate, VincentCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geary, Clifford N.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacroix, ClaudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meltzer, DavisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Muray, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagel, HeinzTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roch, HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephan, KarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Bacchus, William Ivar
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‘To Matthew Brooks Dodson,’ the paper in his hand read, ‘greetings:
‘Having successfully completed the field elimination tests for appointment to the position of caded in the Interplanetary Patrol you are authorised to report to the Commandant, Terra Base, Santa Barbara Field, Colorado, North American Union, Terra, on or before One July 2085, for further examination.… ’
Oscar had tried at first to use the radar equipment of the Astarte, but had given up… the markings, for example, on a simple resistor were Greek to him.

(The SI unit of electrical resistance is the Ohm, the symbol of which is the Greek letter omega (Ω))
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765314517, Paperback)

This is the seminal novel of a young man's education as a member of an elite, paternalistic non-military organization of leaders dedicated to preserving human civilization, the Solar Patrol, a provocative parallel to Heinlein's famous later novel, Starship Troopers (which is about the military).
Only the best and brightest--the strongest and the most courageous--ever manage to become Space Cadets, at the Space Academy. They are in training to be come part of the elite guard of the solar system, accepting missions others fear, taking risks no others dare, and upholding the peace of the solar system for the benefit of all.
But before Matt Dodson can earn his rightful place in the ranks, his mettle is to be tested in the most severe and extraordinary ways--ways that change him forever, from the midwestern American boy into a man of the Solar Patrol.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A young man reports for the final tests for appointment as a cadet in the Interplanetary Patrol, survives the tests, studies in the school ship, and goes on a regular Patrol vessel and encounters danger on Venus.

» see all 2 descriptions

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