Young Bill gets a wild notion to venture out to the stars and escape the crowded, regimented life he was used to. After getting some additions to the family and a long painstaking trip across the solar system, he finds that the really demanding part of his adventure has only just began!
Althoough a bit slow at first, this book is smack-full of good reading. Developing the alien side of the story could have possibly made it better too, but nonetheless a superb story from one of the masters.
This report prepared by Michael Conner
With food shortages growing on Earth, colonies are established on outlying colonies to grow food. This is the story of Bill Lermer, who along with his Dad, newly minted stepmom and stepsister, emigrate to Ganymede, a moon of Jupiter that has been newly terraformed. The first half of the story describes the trip to Jupiter on the aptly named Mayflower, as the emigrants try to cope with very crowded conditions on the passenger ship as well as a natural disaster. The second half of the story describes the very difficult life they face on Ganymede, and how Bill has to homestead. It's more interesting than it sounds, as we watch step by step how Bill prepares his soil and builds a home for his family. Then disaster strikes, in the form of a quake, and we see how Bill and the survivors cope with that. Finally, the book ends with an adventure on a nearby moon which looks almost tacked on and is basically extraneously.
Like all other early Heinlein stories, the character of Bill is squeaky clean. The father character is somewhat interesting for the wry observations he makes about society and life, but the stepmom and stepsister are basically throwaway characters who have relatively little impact on the story. While not one of Heinlein's greatest stories, if you like "survival and pioneering on new worlds" stories, this one may be for you.
This report prepared by Steve