Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert Heinlein
This is one of the first chapter books I read as a kid, when I was in grade one or two. I read a lot of books about dogs back then. You know, where the dog is the hero None of the classics in that genre, if you’re wondering, at least none that I can recall. Anyway, Have Spacesuit Will Travel is about a young boy, Kip, who wins a real, albeit really run down and useless, space suit in a contest. He rebuilds it and gets into an exciting alien adventure where he has to use his intelligence to prevail. The title is a take-off of the cowboy show Have Gun – Will Travel. Kip is your typical 1950s science hero but being your atypical 1980s kid I loved it. This is the book that got me into reading science-fiction. I never really read any more Heinlein, though. I was more of an Asimov fan.
The Tactics of Mistake by Gordon R. Dickson
I think this is my Dad’s favorite science-fiction novel. He told me to read it at least once a year for years and I never did. Until I read The Art of War and I wondered if it had any connection. I confess I don’t remember too much about it and I’m not even sure if it is related to The Art of War. I seem to remember being disappointed that it wasn’t related. I do remember it having some cool bio-feedback ideas in it and an interesting idea about military strategy. Mostly I remember it for it’s cover. I wish I could find a better quality image of it. It has one bad dude on the cover.
The Proteus Operation by James P. Hogan
This book is a total guilty pleasure. It even looks terrible. Look at that cover. It has Einstein on the cover so you know it’s about time travel, right? Bad people from the future built a time machine to make sure Hitler won the war. They succeeded. Luckily American rebels (it’s always American rebels) learn of the project and go back in time to set things right. It’s pretty fun. The best character in the book is Winston Churchill. You can’t say that about many Sci-Fi books. Like many genre books it proudly bears terrible quotes and inscriptions, from “The times they are a changin’” on the back cover, to this doozy:
Only when [the mythological Proteus] was captured and constrained to a particular manifestation could the future be determined with certainty … strangely reminiscent of the collapse of the quantum-mechanical wave function.
Sometimes, late at night, I’m afraid I sound like that.
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