Citizen of the Galaxy

Citizen of the Galaxy - Robert A. Heinlein [These notes were made in 1984:]. A juvenile, but only in the sense that its hero is adolescent. This is quite a sophisticated fable about the uses of power; a nicely-structured progression from powerlessness and naiveté (Thorby as slave) through acceptance in a limited and self-sufficient society (the Traders) to awesome financial (and therefore moral) power. As in many Heinlein books, the problem is redefining the self in light of the totally new conditions, and Thorby does this successfully three times. The gratification the book provides -- good triumphs -- is simple, perhaps simplistic, but nonetheless genuine. I find it disturbing, however, that the optimism of the book grows directly out of its dependence on narrative (romance) convention: the lost, hungry slave is of course the long-lost son and heir to power and wealth on the planet - therefore some progress will be made towards the abolititon of slavery in the galaxy. All the strides Thorby makes towards self-discovery would be useless without that "of course"! It's not really fair to argue big moral significances in a nice little book like this, though!