A daring young atomic scientist teams up with three high school seniors to attempt the first-ever rocket trip to the moon -- that's the premise of Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo. Readers who aren't immediately turned off by the story's wild improbabilities and dated subject matter may find this book an entertaining adventure. To begin with, Heinlein's story is well paced and solidly constructed for once, a pleasant change from the episodic hodgepodges he created in his later years. He skillfully introduces elements of conflict at an early stage of the story, (as sinister forces seem to be trying to prevent the voyage from taking place) and he even manages to build some suspense, an effect Heinlein is not usually noted for. His descriptions of the mechanics of the moon rocket and its voyage are both convincing and interesting, despite being badly dated. One real letdown is the characters, who are curiously undeveloped, even for science fiction. The three boys themselves are virtually interchangeable, and Doctor Cargraves isn't much more distinctive. If some attempt had been made to give these young men their own individual personalities, the readers might find them easier to identify with. As it is, it's hard to really care about these characters, even when something horrible happens to them. The really big problem, though, is that this book really hasn't aged very well. For example, Heinlein tries to show us how a moon rocket was outfitted and launched privately, by one scientist and his youthful helpers, working on a shoestring budget, after a few months of labor; when after all, any schoolchild knows that it took NASA and the U.S. government billions of dollars, working with hundreds of the finest minds on the planet for nearly a decade, to accomplish the real thing. Once our heroes reach the moon, the story gets even more improbable, as they find that the moon is already inhabited. Naturally, Heinlein wrote this novel for younger readers, and it was published at a time when space travel seemed utterly impossible. As such, it was written for the tastes of the times, and times have changed dramatically. For instance, the only women in this book are the boys' mothers, who have very little to say about anything important. The villains are cartoonish stereotypes, who are summarily dispatched without any show of remorse. Although the book is reasonably well-written overall, and older readers may take some nostalgic pleasure in its simplicity and naiveté, today's young readers may want something more wildly speculative than a moon landing. On average, if you're old enough to remember Sputnik, you can be forgiven for loving this book; but if Neil Armstrong is just another boring guy you heard about in school, you probably won't be too impressed by Rocket Ship Galileo.