Have Space Suit—Will Travel

Have Space Suit—Will Travel

infobox Book |
name = Have Space Suit — Will Travel
title_orig =

image_caption = First Edition cover of "Have Space Suit—Will Travel"
author = Robert A. Heinlein
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = Heinlein juveniles
genre = Science fiction novel
publisher = Scribner's
release_date = 1958
media_type = Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = NA
preceded_by = Citizen of the Galaxy
followed_by =
"Have Space Suit—Will Travel" is a juvenile science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, originally serialised in "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" (August, September, October 1958) and published by Scribner's in hardcover in 1958 as the last of the Heinlein juveniles. The title is a take-off of the title of a hit television show from the late 1950s and early 1960s, "Have Gun — Will Travel", which in turn was a take-off on the 1954 memoir of Bob Hope, "Have Tux, Will Travel"Fact|date=March 2008, although the novel takes place in 1978, since Pluto is crossing Neptune's orbit at the time the novel takes place. Heinlein made good use of his engineering expertise to bring a sense of realism to the story; for a time during World War II, he had been a civilian aeronautics engineer working at a laboratory where pressure suits were developed for use at high altitudes.

Plot summary

Clifford "Kip" Russell, a bright high school senior with an eccentric father, enters an advertising jingle writing contest for Skyway Soap, hoping to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Moon. He instead gets an obsolete, but genuine, used space suit. Though a few make fun of him, with the help of sympathetic townspeople, and using his own ingenuity and determination, Kip puts the suit (which he dubs "Oscar") back into serviceable condition. Kip wants to go into space; he reluctantly decides to return his space suit for a cash prize to help pay for college, but puts it on for one last walk. As he idly broadcasts on his radio, someone identifying herself as "Peewee" answers with a Mayday signal. He helps her home in on his location, and is shocked when a flying saucer lands practically on top of him. A young girl and an alien being (later identified as the "Mother Thing") debark, but all three are quickly captured and taken to the Moon. Their alien kidnapper is nicknamed "Wormface" by Kip, who refers to the species as "Wormfaces". They are horrible-looking, vaguely anthropomorphic creatures who do not recognize other species as equals, referring to all others as "animals". Wormface has two human flunkies who had assisted him in capturing the Mother Thing and Peewee, a preteen genius and the daughter of one of Earth's most eminent scientists. The Mother Thing speaks in what sounds to Kip like birdsong, with a few musical notations in the text giving a flavor of her language. However, Kip and Peewee have no trouble understanding her. Kip, Peewee, and the Mother Thing try to escape to the human lunar base by hiking cross-country, but they are recaptured and taken to a more remote base on Pluto. Kip is thrown into a cell, later to be joined by the two human traitors, who have apparently outlived their usefulness. Before they later disappear, one mentions to Kip that his former employers eat humans. The Mother Thing, meanwhile, makes herself useful to their captors by constructing advanced devices for them. In the process, she steals enough parts to assemble a bomb and a rescue transmitter. The bomb takes care of the most of the Wormfaces. But the Mother Thing freezes solid when she tries to set up the transmitter outside without a spacesuit. Kip nearly freezes to death himself while retrieving her body and activating the distress beacon, but help arrives almost instantly. It turns out that the Mother Thing is far hardier than Kip had suspected. She was not in danger; her body "would not permit" her cells to rupture in the frigid Plutonian temperatures. Kip and Peewee are transported to Vega 5, the Mother Thing's home planet. While Kip heals, "Prof Joe", a "professor thing", learns about Earth from Peewee and him. Once Kip is well, he, Peewee, and the Mother Thing travel to a planet in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, to face an intergalactic tribunal which judges whether new races pose a danger to member species. The Wormfaces are put on trial first. They are found guilty and their planet is rotated out of three-dimensional space without their star, most likely to freeze, though the authorities do not bar them from finding a way to survive. Then, it is humanity's turn, as represented by Peewee, Kip, Iunio (a veteran Roman legionnaire), and a Neanderthal man. The tribunal decides that the caveman is from a different species, but the trial proceeds without him, since only three samples are required. Iunio proves belligerent, which is not helpful to humanity's cause. Peewee's and Kip's recorded remarks are admitted into evidence. In humanity's defense, Kip makes a stirring speech, quoting from Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and citing the Parthenon. The Mother Thing and a representative of another race argue that the short-lived species should be granted more time to learn and grow. In the end, the decision is deferred for several half-lives of radium (several thousand years). Kip and Peewee are returned to Earth with information and equations provided by the Vegans. Kip passes the information along to Professor Reisfeld, Peewee's father and a world-renowned synthesist (a generalist who makes sense of what more specialized scientists discover). After listening to Kip and Peewee's story, Reisfeld arranges a full scholarship for Kip at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Like Heinlein's other juveniles, "Have Spacesuit-Will Travel" is a well-constructed adventure story, but compared to many of them, it takes a more philosophical approach, examining what is noble and ignoble about the human race through a varied cast of characters that includes humans, aliens, and even a cave-man. The "What is man?" theme is also explored in another of his juveniles, "The Star Beast", but there the tone is more comic and ironic, whereas "Have Space Suit—Will Travel" is heroic, and sometimes even tragic. A further theme, familiar in many Heinlein novels and directed to the age group the novel targets, is the notion that vast journeys begin with but a single step. Kip wants to go to the Moon "right now", but he is taught that while luck may happen, laying the groundwork and being prepared is better. The story is very much a coming-of-age story, and coincides with Kip's social maturity. At the start of the novel, Kip is a loner, with few apparent close friends -- no one helps him with Oscar, and the only named contemporary is an antagonist. By the end of the novel, Kip has not only identified with, and advocated for, the human race, but has the gumption to stand up to a bully and throw a milkshake in his face.


An Amateur Radio satellite, dubbed SuitSat was launched from the International Space Station in February 2006. This was an obsolete space suit with a ham radio transmitter inside it. Since the advent of ham satellites in 1969, each has always been known as "Orbital Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio" -- OSCAR.


* 1958, Charles Scribner's Sons, hardcover
* 1970, Ace Books, paperback
* 1971, NEL, paperback, ISBN 0-450-00729-4
* 1977, Ballantine, paperback, ISBN 0-345-26071-6
* May 1, 1977, MacMillan Publishing Company, hardcover, ISBN 0-684-14857-9
* July 12, 1981, Del Rey, paperback, ISBN 0-345-30103-X
* May 12, 1985, Del Rey, paperback, 256 pages, ISBN 0-345-32441-2
* July 1, 1987, Hodder & Stoughton General Division, paperback, ISBN 0-450-00729-4
* June 1, 1994, Buccaneer Books, hardcover, ISBN 1-56849-288-X
* October 1, 1999, Sagebrush, library binding, ISBN 0-613-13639-X
* July 2003, Del Rey Books, hardcover, ISBN 0-613-94907-2
* July 29, 2003, Del Rey, paperback, 240 pages, ISBN 0-345-46107-X
* December 1, 2003, Full Cast Audio, cassette audiobook, ISBN 1-932076-39-5
* December 1, 2003, Full Cast Audio, cassette audiobook, ISBN 1-932076-40-9
* December 1, 2003, Full Cast Audio, CD audiobook, ISBN 1-932076-41-7
* February 8, 2005, Pocket, paperback, 256 pages, ISBN 1-4165-0549-0

* The cover for one of the French editions (Presses Pocket, 1978) is by noted sci-fi illustrator Jean-Claude Mézières

See also

* Spacesuits in fiction, which has a separate section devoted to the suit in this novel.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Have Gun – Will Travel — Infobox Television show name = Have Gun mdash; Will Travel caption = Richard Boone as Paladin show name 2 = genre = Western creator = Sam Rolfe Herb Meadow director = creative director = developer = presenter = starring = Richard Boone voices =… …   Wikipedia

  • Space medicine — is the practice of medicine on astronauts in outer space.Who benefits from space medicine research?Astronauts are not the only ones who benefit from space medicine research. Several medical products have been developed that are space spinoffs,… …   Wikipedia

  • space exploration — Investigation of the universe beyond Earth s atmosphere by means of manned and unmanned spacecraft. Study of the use of rockets for spaceflight began early in the 20th century. Germany s research on rocket propulsion in the 1930s led to… …   Universalium

  • Space colonization — Artist Les Bossinas 1989 concept of Mars mission Space colonization (also called space settlement, space humanization, or space habitation) is the concept of permanent human habitation outside of Earth. Although hypothetical at the present time,… …   Wikipedia

  • Space Shuttle — STS redirects here. For other uses, see STS (disambiguation). This article is about the NASA Space Transportation System vehicle. For the associated NASA STS program, see Space Shuttle program. For other shuttles and aerospace vehicles, see… …   Wikipedia

  • Space activity suit — The Space Activity Suit developed by Paul Webb and built under a NASA project. The image shows the complete multi layer suit and positive pressure helmet, lacking only the backpack. (taken 1971) A space activity suit is a kind of spacesuit which… …   Wikipedia

  • Space habitat — A pair of O Neill cylinders …   Wikipedia

  • Space Adventures — Infobox Company company name = Space Adventures, Ltd. company type = Private foundation = 1998 location = Vienna, Virginia, USA industry = Commercial Spaceflight products = space tourism homepage = [http://www.spaceadventures.com/… …   Wikipedia

  • Space Race — For a discussion of all spaceflight programs to date, see History of spaceflight. For a list of key events, see Timeline of space exploration. For other uses of the term, see Space Race (disambiguation). A replica of Sputnik 1, the world s… …   Wikipedia

  • Space station — The International Space Station in May 2011 A space station (or orbital station) is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space (most commonly in low Earth orbit) for an extended period of time, and to which… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”