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The Rolling Stones Mass Market Paperback – June 13, 1985

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8–Long before interplanetary exploration and a certain rock group, Robert A. Heinlein wrote this science fiction classic (Random, 1977). Mischievous teen twins Castor and Pollux Stone set the story in motion with a plan to make their fortune as space traders. Soon they are waving goodbye to their home on the Earth's moon and they're headed for Mars with their parents, sister, younger brother, and grandmother. The Stones are an intelligent, strong-willed clan, so there are squabbles during their months of weightless flight. Everyone pulls together when mother Edith's doctoring skills are needed for a nearby ship's epidemic and when grandmother and little brother are lost in the asteroid belt. In between emergencies, the twins' entrepreneurial skill help them sell the bikes they reconditioned while floating outside their spaceship and unload a horde of fertile felines called flat cats. The Stones end up headed for new destinations in the universe with renewed love and respect for each other. A well-chosen cast of 21 actors turns this half-century-old novel into a lively romp. Standouts in this pleasant company are Bill Molesky as the blustery dad and Caroline Fitzgerald as the feisty, but caring grandmother. Original music adds to the fine sound quality. Twenty-first century listeners can compare current information with Heinlein's speculation, or just enjoy this humorous family adventure. An additional purchase, but one that will be most welcome by science fiction fans in elementary, middle school, and public libraries.–Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Like many people, I go way, way back with Heinlein. My very favorite book (and one that stands out in my mind--and with much affection--to this day) is Tunnel in the Sky. I really, really wanted to go off to explore new worlds with a covered wagon and horses, like the hero does at the very end of the book. But one of the nice things about Robert Heinlein is that he's got something for everyone. One of my best friends has a different favorite: Podkayne of Mars. Go figure.
                        --Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (June 13, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034532451X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345324511
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Lee Gaiteri on July 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Anyone new to sci-fi should read the Rolling Stones as one of their first ten books; they won't be disappointed. It's such a marvelous work that any sci-fi buff would feel proud to have it in their collection.
Simply put, this book is high adventure, following a family from the moon to Mars and to the asteroid belts, and beyond. Blending the novelty of a space ride with father-knows-best sensibilities--which at times seem dated but are all the more charming for it--he shows us a strong family full of independent thinkers and people willing to forge their own road.
Fans of "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" (another excellent Heinlein for any primer) will note that the grandmother of the Stone family was Hazel Meade, the hard fighting kid from the Lunar revolution; this book takes place about two and a half generations later. And of course it's obvious that Star Trek's tribbles are literary descendants of Heinlein's flat cats, though I think Heinlein got more mileage with them.
What's really most wonderful about this book, though, is how it touches the imagination. The concept of running an interplanetary shipping business bringing luxury items to asteroid miners and sight-seeing bikes to Mars strikes a chord, as do the little things like home life aboard a space ship and the grandmother's caustic sense of humor. Whether you're a long-time sci-fi reader or new to the genre, don't pass this one up.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Rolling Stones is one of Heinlein's most lighthearted novels. It was written primarily for young adults, but it's a good read at any age. The book is about a middle class family, living on the moon as the story begins, in a time when middle class families can buy spaceships about as easily as you or I could buy a large recreational vehicle or a small yacht.

Briefly, the story involves a family--a mother and father, their four children (the twins Castor and Pollux, their annoying elder sister and usually underfoot younger brother), and grandmother Hazel Meade Stone. The twins had the idea of buying a spaceship and flying out to the asteroid belt to make their fortune in space mining ventures. Their father rejected this plan, preferring to send them to Earth for a formal university education. But Grandma Hazel prevailed with more ambitious counsel, and the whole family ended up buying a spaceship and becoming an adventurously nomadic collection of rugged individualists. They flew first to Mars, then to the asteroids, then, as the book ends, further onward.

The Rolling Stones is Heinlein's "family values" novel, with the highest virtue held to be loyalty to one's kin. Grandma Hazel Meade lies under oath and practically vamps a Martian judge, at one point, to save her two grandsons from doing hard time as punishment for trying to sidestep Martian import taxes. Earlier in the family's travels, the usually self-oriented Stone twins endorse the idea that the family should return to the moon, rather than go on toward Mars, because their younger brother (Lowell) seemed to be incurably space-sick.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Wood Hughes on August 29, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Some of the other reviews mention the great contributions Heinlein made to scifi, but the most important contribution of this book was not pointed out.
Anyone following the space program these days is familiar with the "gravity assist," whereby probes like Galelio make it to Jupiter by swinging around Venus and Earth to boost their speed for the voyage. The Rolling Stones was the first published mention of this technique way back in the early '50's.
Heinlein was a Naval Academy graduate whose chosen field was naval artilery ballistics. It was this background that gave Heinlein such a chillingly accuate eye towards his (soon not to be) fictional creations as the Atom Bomb, long range fire control to sink enemy ships, and more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on August 19, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was the sixth of the `juvenile' novels Heinlein wrote under contract for Scribners. Unlike most of the others in this group, there doesn't seem to be any overriding plot, rather it is more a set of incidents that happen to (or are caused by) the family Stone.

The Stone family would certainly qualify as `different' by most standards: grandmother Hazel Meade Stone, veteran of the lunar colony revolution (see The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress) who still packs a gun (even if it only dispenses gum); Roger, engineer father who has turned his talents to writing some rather lurid space operas; Edith the doctor, quiet and reserved, but the backbone of the whole family; Meade the 18 year old daughter who seems to mainly fill the function of mother's helper and object of derision by Castor and Pollux, the 17 year old twin mechanical geniuses who have dreams of becoming the shipping magnates of the solar system; and six year old Lowell, who when not beating Hazel at chess or reading minds is very much a pest.

The story is all about their adventures when they decide to pack up from their Lunar home and jaunt around the solar system in an older, carefully fixed up space ship that they buy from a used-rocket-ship dealer. Parts of their adventures are hilarious: the disaster of the Martian flat cats (the model for the Tribbles of Star Trek fame), the events surrounding the twins being arrested on Mars for tax evasion, the brief looks we are given at the `scripts' that Roger and later Hazel write to help fund their travels.
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