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Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein Book Review | SFReader.com
Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein Genre: YA Science Fiction Publisher: Random House Published: 1955 Review Posted: 6/7/2008 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10
Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein
Book Review by Steve Davidson
Have you read this book?
Tunnel in the Sky was RAH's seventh 'juvenovel,' a book commissioned to appeal to a young adult audience, although as many have previously remarked, there's little to prevent an adult from thoroughly enjoying any of these stories.
Being one of the later novels devoted to the 'coming of age' theme, Tunnel is a truly polished piece of work. It's lean and mean and departs significantly from the usual Heinlein preachiness in showing rather than telling. (Not that there's anything wrong with Heinlein's preaching; it's one of his most endearing qualities.)
The story concerns one Rod Walker, a high school student who is about to take his final exam in Advanced Survival. Sometime in the not-too-distant future, mankind has developed the capability of opening wormhole like gates to the stars. Rod is hoping for a job in the 'Outlands' professions and has opted to take an advanced high school class in the hopes that it might help him qualify for a college scholarship.
The final exam is a simple one. Students step through a gate into a primitive alien environment, taking along whatever supplies and tools they deem necessary, there to survive for an imprecise period not exceeding ten days.
Both Rod's parents and his instructor, Deacon Matson, both try to discourage Rod from taking the exam, but his older sister, an officer in the Corps of Amazons (an all-female outlands military unit) is convinced that Rod needs to and should go. She intervenes for him and manages to dispense some useful advice along the way.
The day of the test arrives. Rod steps through the gate and spends a rather interesting and eventful first night. Any first-time camper -- especially city dwellers -- will have no trouble at all identifying with Rod. It is at this point in the story that readers stop reacting to Rod as high-school student and begin respecting him as Rod the survivalist.
Rod spends the next several days settling in, getting to learn the lay of the land and becoming comfortable with his environment, until twin disasters strike. The first is troubling. The second is disastrous -- the time for recall comes and goes and no return gate appears in the test area.
The rest of the story concerns Rod's maturation and is an interesting and captivating tale of survival, ingenuity and the human spirit. Heinlein shows us through word and deed that man is indeed the most dangerous animal in the universe.
But don't forget to keep an eye out for Stobor.
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Comment on Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein
Comments on Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert A. Heinlein
Posted by Randy Johnson on 9/26/2008
This was the first science fiction I ever read. I was about twelve and found it in the school library. Back then, science fiction was marked with a rocket on the spine.
I haunted both school and public libraries after that looking for those rocket books. Still do at 59.