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Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
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Tunnel in the Sky (original 1955; edition 2005)

by Robert A. Heinlein

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,089313,164 (3.83)1 / 60
Member:sandstone78
Title:Tunnel in the Sky
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Pocket (2005), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:To reread, Science Fiction, Former TBR 2012 (inactive)
Rating:****
Tags:science fiction, reread, read, n610, tsu-mm, sixthten, ebook available

Work details

Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein (1955)

  1. 10
    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (slagolas)
    slagolas: Similar premise/survival situation.
  2. 00
    The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Young adult science fiction with survival themes.
  3. 00
    Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes (JessiAdams)
    JessiAdams: Both books feature a group of young adults stranded on another planet that have to start their own civilization.
  4. 00
    Wildside by Steven Gould (persky)
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English (30)  Italian (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
This is not the correct edition. Mine is an OLD mono rip from cassettes done probably 20 years ago or more.

I'm 2/9 of the way in & quite impressed (no, not by the sound quality) by all the things Heinlein's managed to pack into the beginning of this novel. It's not just the neat new way of traveling to the stars, but the whole way he's done the colonization idea. The contrast between low tech pioneering & super high tech travel is economically & socially feasible.

I have to say, sending mules & steers across makes absolutely no sense & undercuts the point for using hay burners that he just made, though. A few to get started - maybe - but if the economics are tight, varieties that can breed make a lot more sense. Last I heard, mules are the sterile offspring of a stallion & a jenny, while steers had their jewels stolen.

Oh well, his point on guns was very well taken & demonstrated. I loved the way he put it too. The family circumstances are quite a good, poignant point, too. All in all, I don't when I've last liked the setup to an entirely new world so well.

Like most of Heinlein's juveniles, this one has a lot of lessons to teach, but some are more apparent than others. Rod, our hero, is black according to Heinlein. He wasn't allowed to say so, though. There isn't anything to point out his race one way or the other, mostly the clues are in the lack of descriptive elements. While others get sunburned, Rod never is nor is his skin ever described as being tanned. Kind of cool that he slid this one through. He has some very strong, smart women, too.

The book has its problems, but I think they're overwhelmed by its good points. Rod isn't a perfect hero, but he's pretty much a perfect adolescent male & firmly plants his foot in his mouth more than once. Didn't we all? But he's basically a good guy who does a lot of growing & never gives up, so he gets what he wants eventually. Love it. Lot's of fun with a great many things for kids, teens, & even adults to aspire to. What boy wouldn't want adventures of this sort? (I still do!)
;-)
( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
Read this one as a kid and it had a profound effect on me. Read it again every few years as well. One of my favorite books. "Beware the Stobor" remains very good advice indeed.

Nutshell plot is that in the future, high schoolers must complete an outdoor adventure course, however their adventures take place on other worlds. They don't know if the world they're going to is hot or cold, wet or dry, and so must prepare for every eventuality. Alas, for this group of outdoor adventurers, when it is time for them to be summoned home, nobody comes . . .

Glad this was my introduction to Heinlein, as it is (mostly) bereft of the polemics that both add to and detract from Starship Troopers. Had I started with that one, I'm not sure I'd have gone on to this. ( )
  BrendanPMyers | Jun 23, 2014 |
Loved this. A whiff of a subsequent work (star ship troopers) and a dash of Lord of the Flies. Great coming of age novel that stands up to the intervening decades of its publication. You can't go home again and you are always growing. Beware the stobor. ( )
  Anraku | Oct 12, 2013 |
This is one of Heinlein's "juvenile" novels centered upon and written for teens. Rod Walker and other teens start out taking a basic survival test, but something goes wrong and they're stranded on a deserted jungle planet. The novel has been described as the inverse of Lord of the Flies and I even saw a recommendation comparing it to Hunger Games. This is a novel about survival, but here the group of young people struggling against nature itself, not each other, and leadership and cooperation is the theme sounded, not a destructive tearing each other to peaces.

I saw some reviews noting how dated the book is in that the boys and girls pair off so neatly and speculated that Heinlein being a product of his times didn't have the imagination to do otherwise. That would be a no. There was even a very early novel written by him in 1938, not published until after his death, For Us, the Living, that included nudism and "free love," both themes he'd take up with a vengeance in books such as Stranger in a Strange Land published in 1961. But Tunnel in the Sky was contracted for a teen market--and in 1955. Suffice to say Heinlein certainly had even back then the imagination to create alternate lifestyles--he just wasn't free to describe such a world here. And ironically, I think his juveniles are the better for it, even if they strike a rather old-fashioned note from time to time. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 31, 2012 |
Great Heinlein - Love any genre with survival techniques ( )
  CaptKen | Jul 30, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345353730, Mass Market Paperback)

It was just a test . . .
But something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong. What was to have been a standard ten-day survival test had suddenly become an indefinite life-or-death nightmare.
Now they were stranded somewhere in the universe, beyond contact with Earth . . . at the other end of a tunnel in the sky. This small group of young men and women, divested of all civilized luxuries and laws, were being forced to forge a future of their own . . . a strange future in a strange land where sometimes not even the fittest could survive!
". . . fascinating . . . ingenious . . . this a book in the grand tradition of high literature!"
-- The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:02 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"The final exam for Dr. Matson's Advanced Survival class was meant to be just that - only a test. But something has gone terribly wrong, and now Rod Walker and his fellow students are stranded somewhere unknown in the universe, beyond contact with Earth, at the other end of a tunnel in the sky. Stripped of all comforts, hoping for a passage home that may never appear, the castaways must band together or perish. For Rod and his fellow survivors, this is one test where failure is not an option."--Back cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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