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Citizen of the Galaxy Paperback – 17 May 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Paperback, 17 May 2005
£45.15 £19.32
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Product details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books; Reprint edition (17 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416505520
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416505525
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 963,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

An outstanding science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein was a four-times Hugo award winner. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Glad I read it finally
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Citizen explores just what freedom really is as it follows a young man, Thorby, as he matures from boy to man. Starting as a slave sold to a most unusual beggar, Baslim, we see the first aspect that many equate with the absolute opposite of freedom, though we see that in fact 'slaves' sometimes have more freedom of choice than 'free men'. The society he paints here is vivid and believable (though the economics of slavery in a star-travelling culture has always seemed a little dubious to me). Baslim is far more than he appears to be, and puts Thorby through a rigorous education, both academic and practical. How do you become a really good beggar? Here Heinlein falls in with Ayn Rand - whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, from begging to juggling. Also there are several comments included here about the integrity of the self - lies to others and misleading yourself both come in for some dictums. These are items that may pass over young readers' heads, but perhaps planting seeds that all assumptions should be examined, nothing should be accepted on 'faith', that personal integrity is more important than 'success', that consequences of actions should be examined carefully before committing to that action.

Later, Baslim calls in some favors and sends Thorby to live with the Free Traders, a group of space merchants that keep to themselves with their own unique culture. Here Thorby discovers another aspect of freedom: a person's ability to do as he wishes is severely constrained by the culture in which he lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Like the first reviewer, I have not read or laid eyes on this book for the best part of my life. I was 8 when I read it, and it was the first book I evr CHOSE to read. I couldn't put it down, and took it out from the library every other visit. WHen the library closed, I tried to buy a copy, but discovered it was long out of print. Please someone reprint this wonderful book...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book when I was about 10. One of the first I bought myself. Soon afterwards I was mystified to discover it had gone missing. I was even more mystified when it turned up amongst my pile of Christmas presents the following December.

Still, I digress.

This is one of Heinlein's most accessible books. Read it as a child, come back to it as an adult. Unlike a lot of Heinlein's more famous works it isn't tacky, doesn't advocate the promiscuous, hippy lifestyle or glorify war and right-wing fantasies (Friday, Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers all spring to mind).

Instead it's a touching story about a young slave boy, Thorby. The book starts with an auction: Thorby is rescued from servitude at the heart of the Sargon's Empire by an old beggar, Pop Baslim. When Baslim is killed by the Sargon's security forces Thorby is forced to seek help from the Free Traders and escape offworld. Heinlein's attempt to describe the peculiarly restrictive lifestyle of the Free Traders is excellent, and you really find yourself drawn into it. But just when Thorby has found acceptance he is forced to choose between his new, adoptive family, or to go further in his quest to discover who he is, and who his parents were. The third phase of the book then begins with Thorby's induction into Earth's Hegemonic Guard, and it ends with Thorby wresting his father's business empire from the hands of his treacherous Uncle, and discovering the fate of his parents.

All three phases of the book are brilliantly realised, and I found life aboard the Free Trader Sisu to be particularly compelling. In addition, Heinlein manages to keep his latent misogyny under control throughout the book, which is a plus.

If you enjoy this, you'll also enjoy Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth.
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Format: School & Library Binding
Citizen of the Galaxy is probably Heinlein's most mature juvenile novel and is certainly one of his most inspirational. It contains a sweeping indictment of slavery and provides a stirring message about citizenship and civic responsibility. Thorby is a slave; the only memories he has are a tangled morass of mistreatment spread among faceless men on nameless worlds; all he brings with him to Sargon are a filthy piece of clothing and an ugly assortment of scars and sores. On the block, no one values him enough to even bid on him, all except for the beggar Baslim. He takes him home (a hole beneath the abandoned amphitheatre) and raises him as a son rather than a slave. Thorby learns the art of begging from his new Pop and enjoys the happiest years of his life with him. Then Baslim, whom Thorby eventually learned was much more than a simple beggar, is arrested as a spy. Thorby satisfies his Pop's wishes by evading capture himself and taking a message to a certain ship's captain. Captain Krausa adopts Thorby as his own son and makes him a member of the Free Trader family on the ship Sisu. Here Thorby learns the complexities of Free Trader family life, makes real friends, and assumes a pivotal job protecting the huge spacecraft from raiders. Then Thorby is displaced once again, as Krausa takes him to the first ship of the Hegemonic Empire he comes in contact with. While Thorby hates to leave his new family, he does it to satisfy Baslim's ultimate wish for him to find his true family. Thorby soon learns that wealth does not make you rich as he strives to fight slavery in the galaxy and become the son his birth parents wanted him to be
Heinlein gives us three strikingly different looks at family life.
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