- Higher Education (novel)
Infobox Book |
name = Higher Education
Charles Sheffieldand Jerry Pournelle
language = English
release_date = 1995
media_type = Print (
isbn = 0312861745
"Higher Education" is a
1995 science fictionnovel by Charles Sheffieldand Jerry Pournelle. It is the first in a series, published by Tor Booksin their Jupiter line.
The novel starts in a future
dystopianearth where the United Stateshas become a woefully inefficient bureaucratized nation. The public schoolsystem is primarily interested in promoting self-esteemrather than learning. For example, the vast majority of public high school graduates are illiterate, and end up in "the pool"; an endless crowd of unemployable youths depending on government assistance or crimefor survival. The book is told from the perspective of the main character, a high schoolstudent named Rick who quickly finds himself expelled after a practical joke goes wrong.
Since expulsion means that Rick's family will no longer be able to claim their welfare bonus, Rick begins looking for a job. One of his former teachers encourages him to get a job for the Vanguard Mining corporation, whose primary financial interest is in
space miningof asteroidsin the asteroid belt. The book follows his progress through an initial grueling examination period on Earth, initial training on an asteroid in a high orbitof earth, and through an apprenticeshipon another training facility in the asteroid belt. After proving himself, Rick is recruited tojoin a secret program to infiltrate and subvert Earth's education systems away from its current initiative-deadening pandering to the lowest common denominator.
Rick is the primary
protagonistof the novel. He is a high-school student who is forced to take a job mining asteroids after being expelled from school.
Turkey Gossage is Rick's instructor on the asteroid in Earth orbit. He is tough, unforgiving and unyielding.
Much of the book is a thinly veiled criticism against current public policy concepts like
centralization, socialism, federally managed education, and cultural attitudes about individual responsibility, particularly concerning children and young adults. The novel has a distinctly libertariantone, which is typical of both Sheffield and Pournelle's work, and certainly a common theme throughout speculative sci-fi in general.
The engines used by Vangaurd Mining's
spacecraftare Diabelli Omnivores. This particular brand of engine is used repeatedly throughout Sheffield's books, across many different fictional settings.
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