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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
There's a completely unwarranted stigma attached to science fiction and fantasy books that are labeled as "all-ages" reads. Some of the most influential books ever written in the genre have this tag: Tolkien's The Hobbit, Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy, Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, etc. Arguably the most historically significant collection of "all-ages" science fiction novels are Robert A. Heinlein's 12 juvenile books written for Scribner's in the 1940s and '50s. While the intended readership was originally teenage boys, these adventure novels -- as thematically challenging as they were diverse -- have been just as appealing to adults over the decades and have collectively been the inspiration for hundreds of modern-day sci-fi novels.
One of the most popular "Heinlein juveniles" is Time for the Stars, a novel about two identical twin boys -- Patrick and Thomas Bartlett -- who become involved in a highly dangerous deep-space exploratory mission to seek out inhabitable planets to further humankind's colonization of the stars. The entire undertaking hinges on the ability of a very elite group of twins to communicate with one another instantaneously through telepathy. While one twin is stationed on Earth, the other is hurtling through space at almost the speed of light. But when thrill-seeking Pat is involved in a ski accident just days before the spaceship departs, Tom is called upon to leave everything behind and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Heinlein's Time for the Stars -- as well as other of his juvenile works, like Red Planet and Space Cadet -- are not only great reads for adult genre fans but also perfect novels to share with school-age children: not only to discuss the thought-provoking themes (population control, etc.) but to talk about how dramatically American culture has changed since these books have been written. For example, the portrayal of women in 1956 -- when Time for the Stars was written -- is more than a little shocking. An "all-ages" science fiction classic -- stigma not included. Paul Goat Allen