Have Spacesuit – Will Travel
By Robert A. Heinlein
Published by Full Cast Audio
Performed by Will McAuliffe and the Full Cast Family
When I think of the Heinlein juveniles, this is the story that first comes to mind.
Kip Russell is a bright young man who decides he wants to go to the Moon. In a “Father knows Best” sort of way, his dad tells him that’s just fine, but he is going to have to figure out how to get there for himself. The normal way, of course, would be to go to college and learn whatever it takes to be an astronaut or lunar colonist or whatever, but instead Kip enters a jingle contest for which the top prize is a trip to the Moon. Thousands will enter, one will win.
Guess who wins? That’s right! Not Kip. Instead he’s a runner up and wins his very own used spacesuit is non-working condition. In the real world that would be a prize worth millions, but in Kip’s late 50’s imaginary world it’s just a good start toward college tuition. But every kid needs a hobby and Kip decides to recondition the spacesuit until it is in fully working order. He even restocks the pharmacopeia (yes, Heinlein envisioned spacesuits that could dispense medications as needed) leaving me to wonder what would happen in the real world should a kid go to the local pharmacist and request codeine for his spacesuit. “Sure, kid… for your spacesuit… Pull the other one.” But it’s a Heinlein juvenile, it just happens.
Now Kip is not entirely unrealistic and knows he is going to have to sell the suit so he can go to college, but he can’t help putting it on one last time and pretending he is on a space mission. Broadcasting on the suit’s shortwave radio, his transmission is picked up by a passing flying saucer, which, in turn, is being chased by a second such craft. He is picked up by the first saucer in which he finds a young girl who calls herself Peewee (really?) and an alien known as the “Mother Thing.” They are being chased by another alien called “Wormface” who soon catches them and takes them back to… you got it… a secret base on the Moon. They escape (this is the second escape for Peewee and MT) and are recaptured and then brought to Pluto (which in 1958 was still a planet and did not have a moon)
Well, one thing leads to another and they eventually make their way to Vega 5 and then to one of the Magellanic Clouds where they must plead for Humanity’s life with only the additional evidence of a Neanderthal and an Imperial Roman centurion, who by galactic standards are contemporaries, I guess. Eventually they are returned to Earth and essentially told to grow up. There’s more, but I think that’s enough spoilers.
Yes, it’s a story for kids and if you are an adult who is not already into science fiction, this might not be your best introduction to the genre, but I think this story is a bit of a palate cleanser. After wading through many dark science fiction and fantasy epics in the last few decades, this was a breath of fresh air with the atmosphere of hope and wonder the genre was once known for.
This was the first audiobook I have heard performed by Full Cast Audio and was happily surprised by the production. I’ll admit I found some of the audio effects that were thrown in quite distracting. I think this was mostly done to give alien voices an “other worldly” sound, but much of the time they sounded more spectral than alien, but maybe that’s just me. For the most part I have to admit they did a good job of make the book sound like a play without setting me on edge as similar productions have done.
So, I think this is the classic stereotype for juvenile science fiction but it was performed well by Full Cast Audio and I look forward to enjoying other productions by them.