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Tunnel in the Sky [Mass Market Paperback]

Robert A. Heinlein
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 12 1987
It was just a test . . .
But something had gone wrong. Terribly wrong. What was to have been a standard ten-day survival test had suddenly become an indefinite life-or-death nightmare.
Now they were stranded somewhere in the universe, beyond contact with Earth . . . at the other end of a tunnel in the sky. This small group of young men and women, divested of all civilized luxuries and laws, were being forced to forge a future of their own . . . a strange future in a strange land where sometimes not even the fittest could survive!
". . . fascinating . . . ingenious . . . this a book in the grand tradition of high literature!"
-- The New York Times

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From the Publisher

Like many people, I go way, way back with Heinlein. My very favorite book (and one that stands out in my mind--and with much affection--to this day) is Tunnel in the Sky. I really, really wanted to go off to explore new worlds with a covered wagon and horses, like the hero does at the very end of the book. But one of the nice things about Robert Heinlein is that he's got something for everyone. One of my best friends has a different favorite: Podkayne of Mars. Go figure.
                        --Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor

About the Author

Robert A. Heinlein, four-time winner of the Hugo Award and recipient of three Retro Hugos, received the first Grand Master Nebula Award for lifetime achievement. His worldwide bestsellers have been translated into 22 languages and include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His long-lost first novel, For Us, the Living, was recently published by Scribner and Pocket Books. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Survivalist Hi-jinks with a Libertarian Viewpoint 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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5.0 out of 5 stars An Awesome Book!!! June 15 2002
By rzaster
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Tunnel in the Sky" is one of Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile science fiction novels, which he wrote to target the young adult audience. People may think that since this book is targeted at juveniles that it is not a good read for adults. That is untrue and this wonderful novel can be enjoyed by an adult as well as a juvenile. The book takes place in a 1950's or so time where interplanetary travel happens by many people of the public every single day. People move through the planets by going through gates, where they are transferred to a plantet that can be millions of miles away in a matter of seconds. This is a very ineteresting idea that Heinlein brings forth.
Rod Walker is a high school teen that is enrolled in a survial course at his school. For the final exam he and his peers are asked to travel to another planet to stay for a maximum of ten days and survive there. Rod goes and at first is lost and has absolutely no clue where any of his friends are. He eventually meets up with a student from another school and they start a colonization on the planet that they ended up on. The instructors of the course were supposed to get the kids but you will learn at the end of the novel why the kids were never retrieved.
This novel shows how government forms and how it works among the people that are governed over. In the book, a whole new civilization is started on the planet and at first everybody works together to make a habitable living area and to get enough food for everybody. The colony that is formed starts of with just two people and grows to a very large amount of students that were taking the final exam for the survival course. There are elections to elect people to govern over the people of the colony and this book can show how people can start a new life when they need to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein at his best May 25 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tunnel in the sky was the first Heinlein book I read. I haven't stopped. "Red Planet", "Have a Space suit will travel", his all famous "Stranger in a strange land", "Citizen of the Galaxy" and a few others, some of which I cannot recall at this time, include the long list of books that have touched my life at one time or another, but "Tunnel in the sky" started it all. Except for "Stranger in a strange land" this is his best novel. While the characters names have gone and went throughout years since reading this novel, the stories essance remains in my heart. It is a book of survival, of civilization, of building and rebuilding, and of friendship. Heinlein is a master at story creation. When the last page swept threw my fingers, those many years ago, I couldn't help but feel delight, sarrow, anger (that it was over), and everything else all at once. I had finished a great book and I thank Heinlein for allowing me to experience this. If you enjoyed this book as much as I than I highly recommend you read "Survivor" by Robert Gray, and the Riverworld series by Philip Jose Farmer. You wont be dissapointed!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be a Real School Course April 30 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Heinlein felt that anyone who could not do everything from plan an invasion, change a diaper, butcher a hog, write a sonnet, design a building, or program a computer was at least partially incapacitated. In addition, he felt that our schools did a very poor job of preparing young people for what life was all about. This book presented at least one partial solution to both problems: have a school course in survival, whose final test was to be dropped onto some unknown 'wilderness' planet for a week and forced to actually survive. Around this basic concept Heinlein fashioned what is probably one of the best of his so-called 'juvenile' novels.
Roderick Walker is the prime character, a young man with some doubts about whether he is really ready to take the final exam in this course. With some encouragement and advice from his older sister, he decides to proceed, going through the 'gate' to a new world where nothing is familiar, where everything must be viewed as potentially deadly. But after managing to survive for the prescribed time, there is no pick up signal, no return gate, and Rod slowly comes to the conclusion that, regardless of what has gone wrong, he must make a go of really living long term on this new world. Along with other class survivors, a small society is formed, initially with Rod as the nominal leader.
From this point, Heinlein manages to show the essentials of how and why a government is formed, what type of government make sense for a small group, how a society protects itself from 'bullies' (the only truly deadly animal is the two-legged variety), the contribution made by both sexes to a properly functioning society, just what makes a man a man, and the essential qualities of a leader.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Away From Home
This is one of Robert Heinlein’s science fiction books for young people, although it can be enjoyed by adults as well. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John M. Ford
4.0 out of 5 stars 3rd time, still interesting. Viewpoint changes at different ages
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. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2008 by Max Likely
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read this many times, it's always great.
This is an excellent adventure by the main charachter. I always enjoy the libertarian viewpoints countered with the mostly socialist/communist settings he portrays. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2002 by Rachel E. Watkins
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOKS MAKE YOU THINK -- THIS ONE IS ONE OF THE BEST
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. Read more
Published on July 6 2002 by George Stancliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that started it all for me
What an awsome read this book was for me. This is the book that got me reading sci fi in the first place. Read more
Published on June 23 2002 by yitzchok
5.0 out of 5 stars A book with more than meets the eye
I have read this book several times but not for quite a number of years. At the time of my first read, I had read most of what Heinlein had written up to that point (I think my... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by John S. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, adventurous and innovative science fiction book
Heinlein once again demonstrates his great writing skills with this story. This is a great adventure with a lot of action and overall great creative science fiction.. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2002 by Michael Rosenfeld
4.0 out of 5 stars A lesser-known Heinlein novel that is really superb
Most sci-fi fans know Heinlein for big books like Stranger in a Strange Land. Heinlein wrote a number of shorter novels that really are worth reading
In Tunnel in the Sky,... Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2001 by Joanna Daneman
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Heinlein book
...(unfortunate acronym!) is the book that introduced me to Robert Heinlein and science fiction many, many years ago. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by Smallchief
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