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Tunnel in the Sky Mass Market Paperback – Oct 12 1987


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (Oct. 12 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345353730
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345353733
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #288,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER on Dec 16 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of Robert Heinlein’s science fiction books for young people, although it can be enjoyed by adults as well. Unlike many of the author’s older books, the future portrayed in this one has not “aged” quite so much. The society and technology still create a believable background for the story to play out.

The Story: Rod Walker is preparing to take the final examination in his survival course. He and his classmates will be dropped, one-by-one, onto a hostile planet where they must survive for several days using their wits and whatever small cache of supplies each has decided to bring. Whether they cooperate, compete, or just avoid the others is up to each individual. After some discussion with his sister and “wise old man” teacher, Rod assembles his supplies and sets out.

What follows is almost a retelling of [lord of the flies]. At the end of the testing period, the survivors are not picked up. They must continue surviving and face the possibility that they will *never* be picked up. As they work out how to do this, there is much discussion about group dynamics, the proper role of government, and strategies for long-term survival. Rod has frequent flashback to lessons from his teacher.

Heinlein makes his oft-repeated points about self-reliance, responsibility, and good citizenship. He does a good job getting all of this across as part of an engaging and suspenseful adventure story. Readers who enjoy this style should also read the author’s Starship Troopers. (Read the book; don’t see the very stupid movie based on it.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory McMahan on June 18 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I am not a rabid fan of Mr. Heinlein, considered by many to be the grandmaster of science fiction, I do believe that Tunnel in the Sky is one of his better efforts.
The book, which apparently was originally slated for the juvenile market, tells the story of Rod Walker, a bright young man on the verge of graduating from a futuristic high school. In the book's future, the Earth is a vastly overcrowded planet, and teleportation has supplanted the internal combustion engine and its (hell)spawn as a form of mass transportation, especially over great distances. In the book, teleportation also presents a solution to Earth's bloated population: all the excess people were 'teleported' to new worlds surrounding distant stars, and as such they became de facto colonists.
It turns out that the young Mr. Walker aspires to be an explorer of these new worlds, or at least involved in some way with their governance and/or exploration. As one of these 'Space-Age' pioneers, he could participate in establishing a beach-head for humanity in some far-flung area of the universe, scout the terrain to get the lay of the land, and give the all-clear for human habitation and colonization. Under this system, he could even a group of colonists to a new world.
However, in order to do this, Rod must first pass a survivalist's exam. Before embarking on his challenge, to which his parents vehemently object, he gets more than a little helpful advice and a few useful life skills from his older sister, a futuristic sort of Amazonian warrior, and a schoolteacher named the 'Deacon' (an apt title for he preaches quite a lot) who thinks fondly of Rod, calling him 'a hopeless romantic born into an age of practical men'.
I think Heinlein wrote this yarn as an extended lesson on good citizenship for minors.
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Format: Paperback
A good read, if you like SF, even the third time. The story is aimed at the juvenile reader and I know that my taste and interest has changed over the years. When I first read this, back in my youth, I identified with Rod and his friends for the adventure and practical survival side of the drama. Decades later, I find equal interest in elements of the story - the (very straightforward) use of politics to gain control of people - that went right over my head the first time. The envisioned star-gate technology is still far beyond our capabilities. This is one of the Master's books that has aged really well.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an excellent adventure by the main charachter. I always enjoy the libertarian viewpoints countered with the mostly socialist/communist settings he portrays. Heinlein has this theme in many of his books, of moving from bondage in an overly controled society(and includes well thought out reasons to how society progressed to that state), to freedom and anarchary, then finding equilibriam between the two in a free, but structured society(this is also a strong theme in 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'). This book couples that theme with coming of age, and survival. When I first read this book when I was 13 it prompted me to learn about survival and gardening, and when I just re-read it a few weeks ago(I'm 24 now) I reflected on the state of government and our place within. A thought-provoking, funny at times, tragic at times, and in all excellent as Heinlein always is. I highly reccomend this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the best fiction books I ever read. When I first read it as an 8th grader, I couldn't stop thinking of what I would do if I were stranded on a strange planet. How would I survive? How would I protect myself from alien creatures? How could I anticipate unknown dangers? How could I find directions? And a host of other survival-related questions.
These are still the questions that need to be answered as we think of exploring space.
When I was a Boy Scout, whenever I learned another constellation, or learned how to use a compass, I occasionally remembered this book and how important these skills could be to me in a survival-type situation.
Definitely a great book to get any young adult thinking about serious issues.
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