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Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein

Star Beast (original 1954; edition 1987)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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1,392175,459 (3.59)48
Title:Star Beast
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Del Rey (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Fiction, Science-fiction

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The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein (1954)



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One could call The Star Beast a run of the mill story about a boy and his pet. Think Lassie and you have the classic relationship I'm referring to. If you don't delve into the details John Thomas Stuart XI is an average teen with a typical attachment to the family pet. However, give the story a science fiction spin and all bets are off. Instead of an obedient and almost too intelligent collie this pet defies logic. Lummox or Lummy, as John calls him, is a 100 year old extraterrestrial (was once his grandfather's pet), has eight legs, a sentry eye that stays awake when the beast sleeps, has a high pitched girly voice and he triples in size when he eats metal. And he's always hungry. The trouble starts when Lummy goes wandering in the night and ends up eating some roses and destroying public property. John and Lummy are put on trial and Lummy is sentenced to death...only the authorities aren't exactly sure how to kill him. Throw in a wannabe lawyer girlfriend and another planet that is convinced Lummy belongs to them and you have a story that appeals to kids and adults alike. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jul 18, 2013 |
I'm one of those who feels that--with a few exceptions such as The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress--that Heinlein's "juveniles" written for teen boys are if not better novels, then better "reads" than his post-Stranger in a Strange Land books. And this is among the strongest--and funniest--of his juveniles. Lummox, the "Star Beast" of the title is the Stuart family pet--he's not... er small, but he does talk. John Thomas, the requisite boy teen and his pet get into a serious scrape, then an even more serious one of interstellar proportions. This one is a classic--I saw an allusion to it recently in a short story by Vernor Vinge. Very entertaining and a fast read. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 31, 2012 |
One of my favorite Heinlein stories.
  TheBarge13 | Mar 19, 2012 |
The first Heinlein I read, many years ago. I don't recall much except I did like it.
  fuzzi | Dec 2, 2011 |
I subscribe to the school of thought that writing for teenagers forced Heinlein to suppress his worst impulses and let his storytelling skills take center stage. This is a fun read (though I got the feeling during the last 40 pages that the author was padding a novella into a novel).

No plot summary here; no one who has read much '50s sci-fi will be surprised by anything that happens.

The book is set several centuries into the future, so there are naturally all kinds of technological wonders on display: Faster-than-light interstellar travel, anti-gravity suits, “truth meters” that hover over the heads of court witnesses and emit rude noises on detecting prevarication – and interoffice communication by videophone and pneumatic tube:

"Mr. Kiku checked Greenberg’s name on the radiotype, dropped it in his outgoing basket, waited a few seconds until he saw Greenberg pick it up out of his own incoming basket: 'Read it'."

Of course, you do often have to hand it to Heinlein where race is concerned. Mr. Kiku is the hero of the book, a super-bureaucrat in charge of extra-terrestial relations. He is explicitly stated to be black by race and Kenyan by nationality – a decade before there was such a thing (Kenya became independent in 1963). Moreover, his name is an obvious reference to the Kikuyu people, at that time in active revolt against British rule. Mr Kiku’s subordinates are a careful ethnic cross-section: Greenberg, Singh, Ibanez. But on the Not So Progressive side of the ledger, they are all men. The only visible female employee of the Department of Spatial Affairs is Mr. Kiku’s secretary.

(The juvenile lead is of course a math and science whiz. His test for distinguishing the elite from the unwashed is proficiency with a slipstick. I am quite curious as to whether anybody under 30 knows what a slipstick is.
1 vote sonofcarc | Oct 27, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parker, JanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Petagno, JoeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, SteeleCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Lummox was bored and hungry.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345350596, Mass Market Paperback)

Lummox had been the Stuart family pet for years. Though far from cuddly and rather large, it had always been obedient and docile. Except, that is, for the time it had eaten the secondhand Buick . . .
But now, all of a sudden and without explanation, Lummox had begun chomping down on a variety of things -- not least, a very mean dog and a cage of virtually indestructible steel. Incredible!
John Thomas and Lummox were soon in awfully hot water, and they didn't know how to get out. And neither one really understood just how bad things were -- or how bad the situation could get -- until some space voyagers appeared and turned a far-from-ordinary family problem into an extraordinary confrontation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young boy believes he and his ancestors have been raising an extra-terrestrial pet for several generations, when actually the beast has been raising them. When the beast must be returned to his native planet, he insists on taking his human "pet" with him.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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