Book Review – Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein & Spider Robinson
Don’t believe the cover. This is not a Heinlein novel. It’s a Spider Robinson novel based on an incomplete outline and some notes Heinlein prepared in 1955. It makes for an odd collaboration, but I enjoyed the story. It’s mostly Robinson, though, with a characteristically crude and flawed main character, fond of drink and socially awkward. It includes clichés, snarky asides, and has a first person conversational style that constantly reminds you that this is just a story. Don’t take it seriously. Much of the plot, though, is classic Heinlein. It’s pure science fiction in the original, positive, sense of the term with scientists and spaceships and a spotlight on the importance of free choice and individual human achievement. Somehow, the combination works. It’s not the silly, unsophisticated humor of Robinson, and it’s not the serious comment on humanity of Heinlein, but it succeeds in showing mankind progressing despite mistakes and setbacks, which is what I enjoy most in science fiction and which was the predominant theme of the classic stories from the 1950’s.