|Submitted by zooey park |
(May 15, 2007)
I'm sure you've heard of Einstein's theory that as a traveller approaches the speed of light, time slows down for him. The example of twins is often used to illustrate it - one twin travels in space at the speed of light and comes back ten years later to find that his other half is an old man. In Time For The Stars, Heinlein has turned this example into a short novel. We follow the life of one teenage twin as he journeys through space seeking inhabitable worlds for an overpopulated Earth to colonize. He keeps in contact with his twin brother on Earth for a good span of his journey. Just how he keeps in contact is one of the surprises of the novel.
Part of the fun of this book (as with any good book, actually) is that you don't know what's going to happen. Heinlein's novels are always filled with unexpected and delightful twists. I found this to be true of Time For The Stars, a highly imaginative work which I've come to expect from Heinlein. What I found especially appealing was what the narrator learns about himself, and his struggle to forge his own identity apart from his twin. His self-discovery is, in my eyes, more important than the extraterrestial discoveries he and his fellow crew make.
If I have one quibble about the novel, it is that I wish Time For The Stars had been longer. Years pass in a page or two, and events unfold quickly - too quickly for my taste. I would have preferred to spend more time on the spaceship and get more acquainted with the other space travellers (a crew of 200, not because they actually need 200, but because the more people, the greater the odds someone will survive). In fact, I think this short novel would be a good premise for a TV series, in that each episode would be spent learning about different crew members.