Robert A. Heinlein
Space Cadet (1948)
Reviewed: 1996-02-11

For decades the Interplanetary Patrol has upheld the peace of the solar system. An elite, idolized in children's books, an all officers corps born from necessity after the invention of nuclear weapons and the perfect missile platform, the spaceship. Matt Dodson is one of many young men who apply to join the Patrol and one of the still many who are actually appointed as cadets. Grueling tests are followed by relentless drills and intense schooling. Matt and his newfound friends, Tex from Terra, Oscar from Venus, and Pete from Ganymede, have to pass many obstacles, all along learning, growing up, and being changed forever on their way to become some of the final few commissioned Patrolmen.

Subsequently to passing their basic training, Matt, Tex, and Oscar are transferred to actual service on a Patrol ship. After taking part in a rather mundane search operation, they finally get a chance to prove themselves without the support of more experienced officers, when the undermanned ship is ordered to investigate a distress call from the equatorial jungles of Venus and to quell a possible uprising of the natives.

Space Cadet is a coming of age novel, a typical Heinlein juvenile, probably incorporating the author's own experiences at the US Naval Academy/Annapolis. A delightful little book, somewhat outdated, but still enjoyable, especially for younger readers.

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