“Have Space Suit – Will Travel” is another wonderful book from one of my favorite authors, Robert Anson Heinlein. It is classified as science fiction, as, I think, all of his books are. There is science fiction in it all right. However, as it is usual for Heinlein, there is quite a bit of adventure and a serious amount of political and societal wisdom in the book. Adventure is thoroughly enjoyable and a couple of times takes completely unexpected turns. What piqued my attention though was the end of the book.
Nearly at the end, there is a court of sorts that judges whether Earth would present a danger to the survival and well-being of the existing system in the future. It is a “Security Council” of sorts, for the three participating galaxies.
“The facts have been integrated. By their own testimony, these are a savage and brutal people, given to all manner of atrocities. They eat each other, they starve each other, they kill each other. They have no art and only the most primitive of science, yet such is their violent nature that even with so little knowledge they are now energetically using it to exterminate each other, tribe against tribe. Their driving will is such that they may succeed. But if by some unlucky chance they fail, they will inevitably, in time, reach other stars. It is this possibility which must be calculated: how soon they will reach us, if they live, and what their potentialities will be then.”
The book is written in 1958 and the United Nations Security Council had its first meeting in 1946. Apparently, Heinlein saw quite clearly the danger of the organization: such an overarching organization of powerful nations is charged with keeping the world “stable” and may destroy other nations that threaten the status quo. Both organizations are charged with keeping the peace but the one in the book easily destroys whole planets and civilizations for the sake of safety. What does the one we know in our world do? What will it do in the future?
Anyway, even besides this obvious political twist to the story, the book is quite amazing. It has a very romantic story, in fact, without ever mentioning anything about love. It is rather about romantic friendship and I nearly forgot that the friendship can be romantic. It is so good that there are authors like Robert Heinlein to remind me.
“The best things in history are accomplished by people who get ‘tired of being shoved around.’ ”
— Robert A. Heinlein, “Have Space Suit – Will Travel”