Farmer In The Sky is a 1950 science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein about a teenaged boy who emigrates with his family to Jupiter's moon Ganymede, which is in the process of being terraformed. Among Heinlein's juveniles, a condensed version of the novel was published in serial form in Boys' Life magazine (August, September, October, November 1950), under the title "Satellite Scout". The novel was awarded a Retro Hugo in 2001.
|Farmer in the Sky|
First edition cover
|Author||Robert A. Heinlein|
|Cover artist||Clifford Geary|
|Publisher||Charles Scribner's Sons|
|Preceded by||Red Planet|
|Followed by||Between Planets|
The story is set in a future, overcrowded Earth, where food is carefully rationed. Teenager William (Bill) Lermer lives with his widower father, George. George decides to emigrate to the farming colony on Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons. After marrying Molly Kenyon, George embarks with Bill and Molly's daughter Peggy on the 'torchship' Mayflower. On the journey, Bill saves his bunkmates from asphyxiation by improvising a patch when a meteor punctures their compartment. During the trip all the children attend class; also, to combat the boredom of the long trip, the Boy Scouts among the passengers form troops.
When they arrive on Ganymede, an unpleasant surprise awaits the newcomers. The group is much larger than the colony can easily absorb and the farms they were promised do not yet exist. In fact, the soil has to be created from scratch by pulverizing boulders and lava flows, and seeding the resulting dust with carefully formulated organic material. While some whine about the injustice of it all, Bill accepts an invitation to live with a prosperous farmer and his family to learn what he needs to know, while his father signs on as an engineer in town. Peggy is unable to adjust to the low pressure atmosphere and has to stay in a bubble in the hospital. When the Lermers are finally reunited on their own homestead, they build their house with a pressurized room for Peggy.
One day, a rare alignment of all of Jupiter's major moons causes a devastating moon quake which damages most of the buildings. Peggy is seriously injured when her room suffers an explosive decompression. Even worse, the machinery that maintains Ganymede's "heat trap" is knocked out and the temperature starts dropping rapidly. George quickly realizes what has happened and gets his family to the safety of the town. Others do not grasp their peril soon enough and either stay in their homes or start for town too late; two-thirds of the colonists perish, either from the quake or by freezing. The Lermers consider returning to Earth, but after Peggy dies and in true pioneer spirit, they decide to stay and rebuild.
The colony gradually recovers and an expedition is organized to survey more of Ganymede. Bill goes along as the cook. While exploring, he and a friend discover artifacts of an alien civilization, including a working land vehicle that has legs, like a large metal centipede. This proves fortuitous when Bill's appendix bursts and they miss the rendezvous. The shuttle picks up the rest of the group and leaves without the pair. They travel cross country to reach the next landing site. Bill is then taken to the hospital for a life-saving operation.
Groff Conklin wrote that although Farmer in the Sky was "conceived as a novel for 'adolescents' ... this book is also one of the best of the month's output in science fiction for adults ... an adventure story with an unusual amount of realism in its telling. It is not childish". Boucher and McComas named Farmer "just about the only mature science fiction novel of the year ", describing it as "a magnificently detailed study of the technological and human problems of interplanetary colonization." Damon Knight found the novel "a typical Heinlein story ... typically brilliant, thorough and readable." P. Schuyler Miller recommended the novel unreservedly, saying that Heinlein's "minute attention to detail ... has never been more fascinatingly shown."
Surveying Heinlein's juvenile novels, Jack Williamson noted that Farmer in the Sky "has harsh realism for a juvenile." He described it as "a novel of education" where the protagonist "tell[s] his own story in a relaxed conversational style."
The book takes up consciously many of the themes of the 19th century American frontier and homesteading - but without the moral stain of dispossessing the Native Americans. In particular, a character who grows an apple tree and offers seeds to other colonists comes to be known as "Johnny Appleseed" (and survives with his family at the moment of disaster by burning his precious tree).
The alignment of Jupiter's four major moons as described in the book can never happen in reality. The three inner Galilean satellites are in a resonance with one another such that whenever two of them are aligned, the third will always be non-aligned and quite often situated on the opposite side of Jupiter.
Heinlein also postulated that the surface of Ganymede was volcanic rock like the Moon. Subsequent discoveries have shown that Ganymede's crust is actually almost 90% ice or frost, covering a subsurface ocean.
The novel refers to the "Space Patrol", the interplanetary peace-keeping organization described in Space Cadet.
Because it was originally written to be serialized in the Boy Scout magazine Boys' Life, Bill Lermer's participation in the Scouts is pervasive, mentioned at least once per chapter.
Beyond This Horizon is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally published as a two-part serial in Astounding Science Fiction (April, May 1942, under the pseudonym Anson MacDonald) and then as a single volume by Fantasy Press in 1948. It was awarded a Retro Hugo award for best novel in 2018.Double Star
Double Star is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinlein, first serialized in Astounding Science Fiction (February, March, April 1956) and published in hardcover the same year. It received the 1956 Hugo Award for Best Novel (his first).Forever Peace
Forever Peace is a 1997 science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman. It won the Nebula Award, Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1998.Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization
The Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization, generally known as the Heinlein Prize, was founded in 1988 to reward individuals who make practical contributions to the commercialization of space. The Heinlein Prize, offers a cash award of $500,000 to one or more individuals for practical accomplishments in the field of commercial space activities rewarded by the International Aeronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.Trustees for the award emphasize that the prize, which will be given as often as annually, is for effort by an individual or group of people, not government or corporate sponsored activities, and is intended to be worldwide in scope. The prize is awarded in July.
The Heinlein Prize honors the memory of Robert A. Heinlein, one of the most popular science fiction writers of the 20th century. The trust was established soon after his death in 1988 by his widow, Virginia Gerstenfeld Heinlein, whose estate will fund the prize.Heinlein juveniles
Heinlein juveniles are the young adult novels written by Robert A. Heinlein. The twelve novels were published by Scribner's between 1947 and 1958, which together tell a single story of space exploration. A thirteenth, Starship Troopers, was submitted to Scribner's but rejected and instead published by Putnam. A fourteenth novel, Podkayne of Mars, is often listed as a "Heinlein juvenile", although Heinlein himself did not consider it to be one.
In addition to the juveniles, Heinlein wrote two short stories about Scouting for boys and three short stories with Puddin', a teenage female protagonist, for girls.Hugo Award for Best Novel
The Hugo Award for Best Novel is one of the Hugo Awards given each year for science fiction or fantasy stories published or translated into English during the previous calendar year. The novel award is available for works of fiction of 40,000 words or more; awards are also given out in the short story, novelette, and novella categories. The Hugo Awards have been described as "a fine showcase for speculative fiction" and "the best known literary award for science fiction writing".The Hugo Award for Best Novel has been awarded annually by the World Science Fiction Society since 1953, except in 1954 and 1957. In addition to the regular Hugo awards, beginning in 1996 Retrospective Hugo Awards, or "Retro Hugos", have been available to be awarded for 50, 75, or 100 years prior. Retro Hugos may only be awarded for years in which a World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, was hosted, but no awards were originally given. To date, Retro Hugo awards have been given for novels for 1939, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1951, and 1954.Hugo Award nominees and winners are chosen by supporting or attending members of the annual Worldcon, and the presentation evening constitutes its central event. The selection process is defined in the World Science Fiction Society Constitution as instant-runoff voting with six nominees, except in the case of a tie. The novels on the ballot are the six most-nominated by members that year, with no limit on the number of stories that can be nominated. The 1953, 1955, and 1958 awards did not include any recognition of runner-up novels, but since 1959 all final candidates have been recorded. Initial nominations are made by members in January through March, while voting on the ballot of six nominations is performed roughly in April through July, subject to change depending on when that year's Worldcon is held. Prior to 2017, the final ballot was five works; it was changed that year to six, with each initial nominator limited to five nominations. Worldcons are generally held in August or early September, and are held in a different city around the world each year.During the 70 nomination years, 145 authors have had works nominated; 48 of these have won, including co-authors, ties, and Retro Hugos. One translator has been noted along with the author whose works he translated. Robert A. Heinlein has received the most Hugos for Best Novel as well as the most nominations, with six wins (including two Retro Hugos) and twelve nominations. Lois McMaster Bujold has received four Hugos on ten nominations; the only other authors to win more than twice are Isaac Asimov (including one Retro Hugo), N. K. Jemisin, Connie Willis, and Vernor Vinge, who have each won three times. Nine other authors have won the award twice. The next-most nominations by a winning author are held by Robert J. Sawyer and Larry Niven, who have been nominated nine and eight times, respectively, and each have only won once, while Robert Silverberg has the greatest number of nominations without winning at nine. Three authors have won the award in consecutive years: Orson Scott Card (1986, 1987), Lois McMaster Bujold (1991, 1992), and N. K. Jemisin (2016, 2017, and 2018).Jupiter's moons in fiction
Jupiter's extensive system of natural satellites – in particular the four large Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) – has been a common science fiction setting.Mirror Dance
Mirror Dance is a Hugo- and Locus-award-winning science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. Part of the Vorkosigan Saga, it was first published by Baen Books in March 1994, and is included in the 2002 omnibus Miles Errant.Moonbat
"Moonbat" is a pejorative political epithet used in United States politics, referring to liberals, progressives, or leftists (especially the far-left), a possible parallel to the pejorative "Wingnut" attributed to American conservatives, and right wing politics.Paladin of Souls
Paladin of Souls is a 2003 fantasy novel by American writer Lois McMaster Bujold. It is a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, set some three years later.Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein (; July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was an American science-fiction writer and aeronautical engineer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", He was among the first to emphasize scientific accuracy in his fiction, and was thus a pioneer of the subgenre of hard science fiction. His work continues to have an influence on the science-fiction genre, and on modern culture more generally.
Heinlein became one of the first American science-fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the "Big Three" of English-language science fiction authors. Notable Heinlein works include Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers (which helped mould the space marine and mecha archetypes) and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. His work sometimes had controversial aspects, such as plural marriage in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, militarism in Starship Troopers and technologically-competent women characters that were strong and independent, yet often stereotypically feminine - such as Friday.
A writer also of numerous science-fiction short stories, Heinlein was one of a group of writers who came to prominence under the editorship (1937-1971) of John W. Campbell at Astounding Science Fiction magazine, though Heinlein denied that Campbell influenced his writing to any great degree.
Within the framework of his science-fiction stories, Heinlein repeatedly addressed certain social themes: the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies, the influence of organized religion on culture and government, and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. He also speculated on the influence of space travel on human cultural practices.
Heinlein was named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974. Four of his novels won Hugo Awards. In addition, fifty years after publication, seven of his works were awarded "Retro Hugos"—awards given retrospectively for works that were published before the Hugo Awards came into existence. In his fiction, Heinlein coined terms that have become part of the English language, including "grok", "waldo", and "speculative fiction", as well as popularizing existing terms like "TANSTAAFL", "pay it forward", and "space marine". He also anticipated mechanical computer-aided design with "Drafting Dan" and described a modern version of a waterbed in his novel The Door into Summer, though he never patented nor built one. In the first chapter of the novel Space Cadet he anticipated the cell-phone, 35 years before Motorola invented the technology. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for film and television.Robert A. Heinlein bibliography
The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988) was productive during a writing career that spanned the last 49 years of his life; the Robert A. Heinlein bibliography includes 32 novels, 59 short stories and 16 collections published during his life. Four films, two TV series, several episodes of a radio series, and a board game derive more or less directly from his work. He wrote a screenplay for one of the films. Heinlein edited an anthology of other writers' SF short stories.
Three non-fiction books and two poems have been published posthumously. One novel has been published posthumously and another, an unusual collaboration, was published in 2006. Four collections have been published posthumously.
Heinlein's fictional works can be found in the library under PS3515.E288, or under Dewey 813.54. Known pseudonyms include Anson MacDonald (7 times), Lyle Monroe (7), John Riverside (1), Caleb Saunders (1), and Simon York (1). All the works originally attributed to MacDonald, Saunders, Riverside and York, and many of the works originally attributed to Lyle Monroe, were later reissued in various Heinlein collections and attributed to Heinlein.Spin (novel)
Spin is a science fiction novel by author Robert Charles Wilson. It was published in 2005 and won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006. It is the first book in the Spin trilogy, with Axis (the second) published in 2007 and Vortex published in July 2011.
In January 2015, Syfy announced it was developing a six-hour miniseries based on the book.Terraforming in popular culture
Terraforming is well represented in popular culture, usually in the form of science fiction. While many stories involving interstellar travel feature planets already suited to habitation by humans and supporting their own indigenous life, some authors prefer to address the unlikeliness of such a concept by instead detailing the means by which humans have converted inhospitable worlds to ones capable of supporting life through artificial means.
Author Jack Williamson is credited with inventing and popularizing the term "terraform". In July 1942, under the pseudonym Will Stewart, Williamson published a science fiction novella entitled "Collision Orbit" in Astounding Science-Fiction magazine. The series was later published as two novels, Seetee Shock (1949) and Seetee Ship (1951). American geographer Richard Cathcart successfully lobbied for formal recognition of the verb "to terraform", and it was first included in the fourth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in 1993.The Sword in the Stone (novel)
The Sword in the Stone is a novel by British writer T. H. White, published in 1938, initially as a stand-alone work but now the first part of a tetralogy, The Once and Future King. A fantasy of the boyhood of King Arthur, it is a sui generis work which combines elements of legend, history, fantasy and comedy. Walt Disney Productions adapted the story to an animated film, and the BBC adapted it to radio.The Vor Game
The Vor Game is a science fiction novel by Lois McMaster Bujold, first published in September 1990. It won the 1991 Hugo Award for Best Novel. The Vor Game is a part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and is the sixth full-length novel in publication order, and is the sixth story, including novellas, in the internal chronology of the series. It was included in the 1997 omnibus Young Miles.Variable Star
For the astronomical object, see Variable star.Variable Star is a 2006 science fiction novel by American author Spider Robinson, based on the surviving seven pages of an eight-page 1955 novel outline by the late Robert A. Heinlein († 1988). The book is set in a divergent offshoot of Heinlein's Future History and contains many references to works by Heinlein and other authors. It describes the coming of age of a young musician who signs on to the crew of a starship as a way of escaping from a failed romance. Robinson posted a note on his website in 2009 noting that his agent had sold a trilogy of sequels based on the novel and its characters.Virginia Heinlein
Virginia "Ginny" Heinlein (April 22, 1916 – January 18, 2003), born Virginia Doris Gerstenfeld, was an American chemist, biochemist, engineer, and the third wife of Robert A. Heinlein, a prominent and successful author often considered as one of the "Big Three" of science fiction (along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke).Way Station (novel)
Way Station is a 1963 science fiction novel by American writer Clifford D. Simak, originally published as Here Gather the Stars in two parts in Galaxy Magazine in June and August 1963. Way Station won the 1964 Hugo Award for Best Novel.