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Podkayne of Mars [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert A. Heinlein
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1989
Her first space trip - and not just to Venus but to Terra as well that most improbable of planets. It was a place where the natives had to go wrapped and protected against their own environment, a place where the gravity was too powerful for her species. Yet, according to one school of history, Terra was where humans like her had had their origins. But now the Mars shuttle was waiting to take her on her great adventure.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A girl raised on Mars travels back to Earth in Heinlein's vintage SF tale, first published in 1963.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


'Heinlein's skill...makes this story a delight.' New York Herald Tribune --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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All my life I've wanted to go to Earth. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I say it's spinach March 25 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
And if it were anybody but Heinlein, I'd say the hell with it.
All right, look -- between 1959 and 1964 Heinlein wrote what I regard as his three _preachiest_ books: _Starship Troopers_, _Farnham's Freehold_, and this one. _Troopers_ and _Farnham_, whatever their flaws (and I think _Farnham_ is a much, much worse book than _Troopers_), were about subjects in which Heinlein had some expertise -- respectively, military service and surviving a nuclear attack. But Heinlein was never a _parent_ anywhere but in his dreams.
And yet -- in this sorta-juvenile novel ostensibly about young Podkayne Fries of Mars but actually, albeit indirectly, about her younger brother Clark -- there he is up on his soapbox, blaming Mom for not staying home with the kids. _That_, y'see, is why the terrible thing happens to Poddy at the end, and why Clarkie is turning out to be such a sociopath: their mother was just too busy with her _career_. (As an engineer.)
_Which_ terrible thing happens to Poddy depends on which ending you read. As Heinlein originally wrote it, she died; as he _re_wrote it (at Putnam's behest), she was merely comatose, with every hope of recovery. In the most recent PB edition of the novel, both ending are included, along with a bunch of comments/votes from readers who had much stronger feelings about the matter than I do.
Call me an ol' sourpuss, but I don't even especially _like_ Poddy. She's sorta cute in a late-50s kiddie-lit way, but the folks who say this book is dated are entirely right. Frankly, I don't really care one way or the other about the ending.
Not that there isn't any good stuff in this book at all. The plot's okay, and Clark really doesn't strike me as all that terrible a kid (he certainly isn't any worse than young Woodie Smith).
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Even though this is possibly the worst juvenile sci fi novel about a girl EVER WRITTEN, I feel I had to leave a comment here: this book changed my life. Remember the old "Ms." magazine and how they used to do articles about how various women had a "click" moment where their sensibilities about feminism snapped into place? Well, PODKAYNE OF MARS was my click moment. It made me a feminist. The year was 1963, and this was a brand new book by one of my favorite sci fi authors and it was about a girl! A girl who wanted to be a starship captain! I had to wait weeks for the book to come in, and rushed home to read it.
Imagine my disappointment! I could literally spend all day just pointing out the bad spots -- the lame characterizations, dull expository, lecturing, etc. But of course the worst thing here is that the book is utterly demeaning to young women. Poddy is a painful charicture of a teenager, with all kinds of agonizingly cute mannerisms. She actually thinks of herself as "an astonished kitten", and never interacts with a man, not even her elderly great uncle without knowingly flirting.
I have absolutely nothing against a book about a young woman who wishes to become a mother or raise children -- it's a perfeclty noble ambition. But why set us up for an adventurous tale about a girl starship captain and then have her be this simpering little priss?
Obviously Heinlein was bored with Poddy by the end of the first chapter and really wanted to tell the story of her bratty brother. Did some editor press him into writing a story for girls, when he really had no interest? (He never did write female characters particularly well, and we are all aware of his atavistic attitudes towards women in general.)
The story is plenty bad in other ways...
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4.0 out of 5 stars The (Un)-Saintly Martian July 10 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the last of the Heinlein 'juveniles', the only one written with a female point-of-view character, and the only one not subject to the editorial dictates of a certain prudish editor at Scribners, though it still suffered at the hands of the editor at Putnam (more of which later).
Podkayne (named after a Martain saint, but just "Poddy" to her friends) and her younger amoral genius-level brother Clark get to take a trip to Earth with a side stop at Venus accompanied only by their retired Martian senator uncle Tom, as their parents are unexpectedly having to deal with three newly decanted babies due to a crèche mix-up. Most of the story is a detailing of the events during their journey on the spaceship and the sights, people, and society of Venus, as carefully recorded in Poddy's diary (with occasional inserts by Clark). This method of telling a story is difficult to do effectively, but for the most part it comes across very well in this book.
Poddy is a very likeable, friendly person who is, unfortunately, a little too naïve, a little too cute, a little too much preoccupied with babies, boys, and proving herself to be 'just as good as a man' to be quite believable as a (supposedly) highly intelligent but otherwise normal teen-age girl. Clark, on the other hand, is all too believable as a boy with adult knowledge and a child's 'me' centered view of the universe. Clark is the prime mover of the events, but for the most part he remains offstage, and we only learn about what he has done as filtered by Poddy's perceptions.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine work by Heinlein that displays the morals of his time
Heinlein's excellent work, whose title character is a young girl with star pilot ambitions in a solar system where girls just don't do that kind of thing. Read more
Published on July 2 2002 by Gary M. Greenbaum
2.0 out of 5 stars Old morals die hard
This story just isn't one of Heinlien's best. More than many sci-fi writers his works have managed to hold themselves and not age. Podkayne of Mars doesn't. Read more
Published on June 25 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The REAL Issue...
I think a lot of readers missed a very fine point in this book. THE BOOK WAS NOT ABOUT PODDY. The book was the diary of a ditzy teen (lovable, but still ditzy) who was witnessing... Read more
Published on May 31 2002 by Kieri
5.0 out of 5 stars The reason to read a book, and why we re-read them
Lost amid the characteristic idiological rantings of some reviewers is the fact that this is a story about "What happened when my sister and I went to Mars" I used to hope that... Read more
Published on April 5 2002 by Jim-bob Furlbottom
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, clean fun
I read and loved this book (with the gentler ending) when I was in junior high school. I found it a fun adventure, much like "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2001 by Kuovonne Vorderbruggen
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a masterpiece from the Grand Master of SciFi
For those of you calling Podkayne Fries a moron, an oh so cute teenager, that she deserved what happened, and calling this book a "beginning of the end" I have a few... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2001 by "nimasha"
5.0 out of 5 stars Ending? Where's the plot?
You know you're in trouble when the publisher feels the need to resort to baby talk to describe the title character ("People think she's the bestest" . . . Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2001 by Michael Battaglia
3.0 out of 5 stars A tragedy from RAH?
This book is completely out of character for Heinlein. The narrative is weak (for him), and is as full of foreboding as a cheap melodrama. Read more
Published on April 25 2001 by L. Coats
4.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC but I wouldn't give it to just ANY teen
Podkayne Fries is a fabulous narrator. (I've read book reviews in which the male author is praised for writing as a woman. None of those authors can hold a candle to Heinlein. Read more
Published on March 18 2001 by Rebekah Sue Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Read
Not as intellectual as some of RAH's other books, this is a more "down to earth" story. The protoganist is a coming-of-age female who narrates the book with her... Read more
Published on Dec 30 2000 by Bill R. Moore
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