I bought this nice looking (well, better than the scan, and probably better than I started it) paperback from sixty-five years ago at the Friends of the Christian County Libary book sale in October 2019, and it came with its own little story:
Double Star, a Robert Heinlein juvie that earned me a book sale friend. Another guy saw it and asked where I got it; I mentioned it was mixed in, and that there were not others, or I would have them in my hands. He told me of the collection he’d received as a gift, a trash bag full of classic science fiction, and I envied it. Later, he approached me to offer me the copy of Friday that he’d found, but, come on: The later Heinlein hardbacks are easy to come by. At any rate, I’ll hit this one up sometime; I’d say “Soon,” but I’m surprised to see how many Heinlein books I come across in the library here that I have not yet read.
Spoiler alert: It was not really soon unless you’re counting in Nogglestead to-read time, in which a little over three years is actually soon.
The book was stacked amongst some of the paperbacks I bought in Berryville, Arkansas, which includes Diagnosis: Murder: The Silent Partner (can one put two colons in a title) and Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer–when I came across it, I moved it to the top of the stack and started it shortly thereafter.
But, ah, gentle reader–although this book is only 128 pages, it took me a week to read it. Some nights I gave over to watching films, including Highlander, Die Hard, and Die Hard 2, but that’s not the only reason. This book is in tiny print, and the text is in full midcentury paragraphs, where even the dialog is dense. Coupled with a cat and a couple of kittens who hop onto my lap and demand attention by sitting at my reading focal point, and suddenly it takes me days to read essentially a mid-century juvie rocket-jockey book.
So it’s a pretty simple plot: A two-bit actor is down on his luck and is down to his last dime when he tries to befriend a spacer on the run, presumably, who comes into the dive bar where the actor is drinking. As it happens, the man pretends not to be a spacer but has a job offer for the actor. While discussing the matter in private, they’re interrupted by some opposing forces whom our heroes dispatch–and once they are off Earth and on their way to Mars, the situation becomes clearer: a Parliamentary politician, currently out of power, has been kidnapped, and his people need the actor to stand in for the missing man to participate in a delicate ceremony while they search for the missing man. Complications arise, and the actor must determine how much further the show must go on.
So it’s an interesting story, but the pacing was a little slower than I’d prefer, and the blocks of tiny text made for a less enjoyable reading experience. Still, it is a very old paperback, designed to be affordable by young people (and to be put into library bindings). I suppose if I am going to complain about it, I could pick up one of the many, many hardbacks with larger print in them that I have available–including some large print editions, no doubt.
Still, I look forward to the other Heinleins I uncover here in the stacks or find in the wild. Even if I’ve already read them. So let that be my endorsement.