This is truly a rags-to-riches story. Max Jones, a hick farmboy with a 20-20 memory in the backwoods of Arkansas, runs away from his brutal mother and wicked stepdad in an attempt to get a career in space travel. He quickly finds it isn't so easy, however--Earth has very particular union rules about who can and can't go into space. So he enlists his shady but good naturedly friend Sam to get him forged papers that will get him and Sam aboard a passenger ship bound for the interstellar circuit.
Max boards as a lower level staffer in charge of keeping the passengers' pets happy, and if the story ended there it would have been a dull one. But things get interesting when Matt, with his perfect memory, admits to memorizing the all-important "Astrogator" textbooks, and that gets him a promotion from deputy pooper-scooper to assistant chartsman on the bridge. After that he goes through a series of meteoric promotions until he ends up being Captain, when the ship is stranded on an alien planet and all those senior to Max are killed or die of natural causes.
This is an interesting story to read, but a bit slow in parts, as it doesn't have the same kind of military excitement as Starship Troopers or exploration excitement as Space Cadet. But it is interesting to watch the local boy make good, rising in the ranks from pooper scooper to Captain.
This report prepared by Steve