NESFA Members' Reviews

The Rolling Stones

by Robert Heinlein

Del Rey, 1985 [1952], ISBN 0-345-32451-X

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

Castor and Pollux Stone may be the most entertaining twins in sf for the reader, but it's hard to imagine why their parents didn't strangle them at birth to preserve their own sanity. Ever since the adults (Luna Founding Father grandmother Hazel Meade Stone, mother Dr. Edith Stone, and father Roger Stone, engineer, former mayor of Luna City, and screenwriter) let their guard slip long enough to let the twins invent something genuinely useful (the frostproof rebreather valve) these native-born Lunatics have been scheming to repeat the accomplishment—at least the money-making part of it—with the not very well thought-out goal of eluding adult control before they've learned enough caution to keep themselves alive, out of debt, and out of jail. When their latest caper involves an attempt to buy a spaceship and launch their own trade expedition to the asteroid belt, grandmotherly and paternal restlessness morphs the scheme into a family tour of the planets, starting with Mars and possibly stretching to include the rings of Saturn.

Castor and Pollux of course do not let up on their money-making schemes, and figure out that they can buy used bicycles cheap on Luna, fix them up on the way to Mars, and sell them to prospectors there for a fraction of the price of new bikes shipped from Earth's much deeper gravity well, while still making a huge profit.

They do not, of course, ask themselves why no one before them has been smart enough to come up with this idea, and that's a recurring theme as the Unheavenly Twins wreak hilarious havoc across the solar system, with brushes with jail, bankruptcy, and assorted mayhem.

(One very funny episode will seem oddly familiar to anyone whose age and background caused them to encounter the original Star Trek first. However, Heinlein's flat cats predated the tribbles by about fifteen years.)

Great fun.

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