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This science-fiction novel features a family living on the moon: the Stones. They are Castor and Pollux, teenaged twin boys who lead the tale, Meade their sister, Buster (Lowell) their baby brother, their gran Hazel and of course their mum and dad.
The intelligent and mischievous twins are always on the lookout for a money-making scheme and are restless in their safe respectable luna town. They hit upon the idea of restoring a dilapidated space-craft and setting up as interplanetary traders. Their gran is unexpectedly keen for a change and before they know it, the whole family is coming along!
The novel follows their adventures, as they head out into the solar system, finding all sorts of wonders and dangers, from hard-trading frontiers-men to flat cats.
And wherever the twins (and their gran) go, trouble can't be far behind.
This novel is really a joy to read. It's well-written and flowing, easily immersing the reader into its futuristic world. It's funny and light-hearted: I really enjoyed the interplay of witty dialogue between the feisty family members and their subtle and not-so subtle manipulation of each other. The flat cats are wonderful, and now I know where Gene Roddenberry got some of his ideas for Star Trek (the original series) from.
As one of Heinlein's "juveniles", it was aimed at the young adult audience, but is great fun for any age. It's episodic: a series of adventures, a glorious space-voyage of a book.
There's some more serious speculation for the science-orientated s-f reader, as Heinlein thinks about transport and space travel, which is a theme that runs throughout the novel. How the family get to the various outposts to which they travel is almost as important as why, while not detracting anything from the story. The practicalities of extraterrestrial living are part of what brings the characters to life.
'The Rolling Stones' (also published as 'Space Family Stone') is one of Heinlein's earlier stories, first published back in 1952.
Robert A Heinlein is considered one of the Grand Masters of the "Golden Age" of Science Fiction, and while this novel isn't on the same level as 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' (where incidentally Hazel crops up as a child) or 'Stranger in A Strange Land', it's clear to see why.
The book is available from Amazon new at £5.20 or can be found cheaper from other sellers. I borrowed my copy from the library.
Product details (as available from Amazon):
# Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
# Publisher: Baen Books (20 April 2010)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 9781439133569
# ISBN-13: 978-1439133569
# ASIN: 1439133565
# Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11.5 x 2.3 cm