feedback image
Total feedbacks:60
Looking forPodkayne of Mars in PDF? Check out
Check out

Readers` Reviews

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lisa lawless
As a Heinlein fan and a lover of classic sci fi, I was happy to find this (especially after having seen all the good reviews). Then oh so disappointed. This is basically the diary of a young Martian lady, her younger brother occasionally adds comments. The story starts out inane and repetitive, then becomes dismally boring and finally just dismal. If anyone else had written it, I would not have bothered to finish. What a waste of time and money.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I enjoy reading classic (golden age and silver age) sci-fi stories. From the mind of a master comes a story full of fun incidents, clever dialog, and interesting ideas. It's no less interesting for having "old" science behind it.

If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and read the story.

A surprising end awaits.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
val brown
I find it great that you can order out-of-print books via the store,
and that it helps small book selling companies that have used books in
their inventory to sell them. I bought this one as a Xmas gift for my
niece, as I remember reading a little bit of Heinlein at just a few
years older than her. (Heinlein did mean it as a story for older
children (inbetweeners/teens) to read).
The Door into Summer :: Citizen of the Galaxy (Heinlein's Juveniles Book 11) :: Sixth Column :: The Puppet Masters (Baen Science Fiction) :: Friday
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I read for fiction about two hours daily. I know this author is suppose to be first rate but this his is one of the worst books I've read in years. Why? It drags and drags. Boaring. Poor plot development. No action.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
bita b
Heinlein is a master of Character and Narrative and Dialog. His development of Poddy Fries is masterful. She is a very bright young woman, with a lot of potential, but a few lessons to learn. The story is good right up to the end, at which time, you discover what the author, who refused to rewrite his stories, realized - he had painted himself into a corner with the plot and the characters. There was, in his view, only one logical way to resolve the dilemma. That is how he ends the story. It is very sensible, very logical, eminently rational, perhaps even moral, but not very satisfying for some of his readers, including me. One excellent feature of this edition is the inclusion of a letter in which the author discusses his reasons for ending the book as he did. I will provide no more details. I invite you to read this book and draw your own conclusions.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
heather blair
Did I outgrow the Heinlein books? This book was slow and uneventful. I was not swept away by strange worlds or creatures, but I was told of an alternative government that tried to encompass the solar system. It was told through the eyes of a teenage girl. there just wasn't enough action for me.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
lisa hackney
The Kindle edition is not the original published book. Heinlein's widow Virginia allowed several of his books to be published in modified form, with editing and publisher's decisions removed. She said these were in the form the author wanted them to be published.

Some of these are modified just a little, some more so. The published versions are invariably more polished and professional. "Stranger in a Strange Land" has endless drivel removed that an editor had cleaned up. It is almost a case study for how much a publisher does for an author.

Podkayne of Mars was sent to the publisher with Podkayne dying in the end. The publisher sent it back, telling Heinlein "You can't end the story with that little girl dying" or something close to that. Heinlein changed it and sent it back, and then the story was published. In that version, Podkayne's brother Clark describes her as "looks like a corpse" but it's clear he thinks she will recover.

This book is not that one. It's the altered version (the original unpublished version that Heinlein's widow released).

My old paperback that I purchased in my youth in the 1970s is dilapidated and the pages are falling out. I'll keep the Kindle version but read the real ending from those pages when I get to the end.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
megan ricker
Heinlein fails in the attempt to write a novel with a female protagonist. Spoiler alert. Podkayne dies a pointless death because she is not deferential to her prepubescent brother and because she is too sentimental. Ug. Heinlein kills off Mycroft Holmes at the end of Moon is a Harsh Mistress and let's V. M. Smith end Stranger in a Strange Land as a bowl of soup, so maybe I should not have been surprised by this ending. Also, the number of times someone is suspicious of Uncle Tom's sexual attraction for his niece is creepy. Doorway to Summer ends with Uncle marrying niece. Time Enough for Love has an odd sexual relation between Lazarus and his Ward Dora. And also the slaves he buys who turn out to be his great grandchildren. Someone should interview Heinleins female family and use it as the.basis of a doctorate.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
One of the interesting things about reading classic science fiction is to see how accurately the author envisioned the future. Podkayne of Mars was first published serially in 1962 and it focuses on a young woman born and raised on Mars. Heinlein wrote many empowered women characters over his career and his heroine, Podkayne, is fairly typical of them. She is very intelligent, courageous, and dreams of a career in what is still considered a “man’s field” in Heinlein’s future. This is a vision of the future of women that made a lot of sense in 1962, but falls short of what women have achieved in the twenty-first century. So it’s very interesting but doesn’t quite feel right.

The plot is classic Heinlein and would have fit well with any of his young adult novels. Podkayne is intelligent and sure of herself, but slowly comes to understand that she still has a lot to learn. When politics, of which she is quite innocent, intervenes and she finds herself a pawn in an effort to change the future of the solar system. But Heinlein’s heroes don’t remain pawns for long and Podkayne is no exception. Taking the future into her own hands, she acts. It’s an entertaining look at the future from five decades ago, but the saddest ending I can remember in a Heinlein novel.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mohamad hasan farazmand
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katherine leppek
Before I actually review this novel, I must clear up a commonly-held misconception: _Podkayne of Mars_ is not a juvenile novel! When I was at the Heinlein Centennial last summer, Dr. Robert James (a leading Heinlein scholar) read the backcover blurb from the first paperback edition, which made this very obvious: juvenile novels are not marketed with phrases such as "the Minx from Mars." Dr. James is evidently irritated with people continually referring to this as a juvenile...

The last unambiguously juvenile novel was _Have Spacesuit, Will Travel_. _Starship Troopers_ is supposedly a juvenile, but I really have my doubts. _Podkayne_ is a novel that comes early in the period in which Heinlein was finally writing more or less what he wanted, rather than writing for specific markets.

The entire book is composed of Podkayne's diary, with a couple of secret entries made by her younger brother Clark, in invisible ink. The reason for this is obvious once you have read the book: no spoilers here!

The story is about Podkayne and her younger brother Clark accompanying their Uncle Tom on a trip to Venus and then to Earth (the trip never gets past Venus). There's a lot more here than meets the eye, because Tom is actually on a secret diplomatic mission to the upcoming Three Planets conference, and Poddy and Clark are along just to provide cover.

At first everything seems to be perfectly innocent, but then a stranger gets Clark to smuggle a package on board the spaceliner. Clark is a lot smarter than the stranger gives him credit for; the kid figures out that he's been given an atomic bomb that's been set to go off shortly after they leave Mars. Clark, being a boy genius, finds a way to defuse it. The plot gets thicker from there -- for the most part the story seems like an innocent travelogue of the future, but here and there the reader gets intimations of skulduggery afoot. By the end of the book, the plot has thickened to a perfect and satisfying consistency.

There has been some controversy regarding this book, regarding the ending. The edition I have on my desk in front of me right now is the Baen Books paperback printing of July 1995 (the hardcover was August 1993), which has both Heinlein's original ending as well as the changed ending which appeared in all editions from 1963 until 1993. It's a pretty good story with either ending, but I like Heinlein's original ending better.

Before I end this, I'm going to make a short quote from a letter from Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame, his agent, dated Mar. 10, 1962:
"Is _Poddy_ a juvenile? I didn't think of it as such and I suggest that it violates numerous taboos for the juvenile market."

Having said that, I have to say that I highly recommend this book, as I do almost everything that Heinlein wrote. I'm still not sure, after all these years, what it is that Heinlein put into his stories to make them so engaging, readable, and downright fun, but there it is: Heinlein was the greatest of all the science fiction writers so far, and he never wrote a dull tale.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
julie carr
Interesting to see the prototype of Heinlein's later characters. If you read Time Enough For Love, Podkayne (and her uncle) will be very familiar. Other than that, not really worth reading. Most of the story is her trip from Mars to Venus. Heinlein gets very imaginative and does a great job of painting the picture of everyday life on a passenger spaceship, but it's about as exciting as everyday life everywhere else. At the very end of the book, there's some action with no introduction or explanation, and with little description of what actually happened or why. My guess is Heinlein got as bored with the story as I did, threw in some James Bond elements, and then decided to just end it. He kills off the title character, then unkills her, and there the story concludes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
First, a brief comment on the cover of several editions of this book: Podkayne is clearly described as a dark-skinned (not caucasian) female by Heinlein. While her 'minority' racial status isn't necessarily a major theme of the book, there are several times in which Heinlein alludes to her ancestory as being a source of stigma. I believe that this was intentionally one of the moral issues that Heinlein took on in writing this story. It is therefore very unfortunate, if not ironic, that the cover to several editions of this book portray a very light-skinned (caucasian) female. It's almost as if such a cover perpetuates some of the very stigma that Heinlein was trying to subtly get us to think about. Anyway, that's a bit disappointing but it has nothing to do with Heinlein's excellent story.

I read this story as part of the Heinlein Omnibus with "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," "Starship Troopers," and "Podkayne of Mars" in that order. While I liked all three, I would say that "Podkanye" was my second favorite to "Starship Troopers." Having already read "Have Spacesuit," I found this story to be a little bit more sophisticated and a little less silly than "Have Spacesuit." It also contained a heavier dose of the less appealing side of human existence. It is not inaccurate to say the story becomes fairly dark, albeit with a twist of hopefulness by the end.

The storyline itself is loose, but ultimately interesting enough to keep one reading. It is really the characters of the book that give the story meaning, and this case, the reader is able to quickly take on Podkayne as a part of the self. By identifying with her, we are able to better recognize some of the injustices and flaws of humanity that effect the very decent Podkayne.

I do have two very small complaints. One is about the story itself, the other is something that I only began to become aware of after reading these three Heinlein stories in succession. First, at times in this story Heinlein gets maybe a little too preachy. Moral philosophy seems to be a theme in many of his stories, but his own agenda shines through perhaps just a little too much via Podkayne. Second, Heinlein is actually a bit too formulaic. Each of his stories are unique, but they seem to follow a bit of a template and part of the template is that the Science Fiction aspects of his stories are only thin veils for real-life situations. Wait, you say, that's an essential part of a good scifi story. Yes, but in this case, I felt that Heinlein's formula was becoming a little too obvious.

Overall, a good story, one well worth reading. Unlike "Have Spacesuit," I did not feel this book was any more suited for adolescents and young adults than for your typical adult scifi reader. I think anyone over the age of 13 or 14 would find this to be a thought-provoking and very good (but not great) book.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
amber garrett
Some spoilers:
I did not like the non-ending. The two main characters are left with uncertain futures, Podcayne herself is only mentioned in conversation at the end. I was very frustrated with the star being less interesting than her sibling.
You have to remind yourself often that this book was written in an era when smart women where limited by the roles male favored society allowed them to have. It was also fashionable to act dumb in order to make men feel smarter, which earned a woman more... opportunity... And this was book was written by a man, you can tell by how he has Podcayne describe her measurements and appearance at the start of the book.

Keeping the above in mind I just let the sexist womanly advise and tips roll over my back.

That said, I found it too much to ignore the fact the main bad guy kept insinuating Podcaynes very old uncle was "in love" with her.. thankfully we where spared any obvious examples of it, just the bad guy fixated on bringing that up every.single.time...

But the worst was seeing the star of the book downgrade her personal career goals as you got further in the book. Its one thing to have a change of heart and find a new calling, but her change seemed more like "well, I won't be able to do what I really want because I am a girl, so I can do this instead and at least travel".
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elizabeth thompson
Heinlein occasionally bragged that he had written, early on, teen angst pot-boilers from the female point of view. Having done so here in a full length novel, I certainly believe him. Here Podkayne and her precocious younger brother set out on a starliner cruise around the solar system that has deeper implications than they originally envisioned, eventually winding up in a show-down on Venus. We now know that Venus is completely inhospitable - facts that Heinlein did not have in hand when he set a few scenes there in his juvenile works.

Like all of Heinlein, Podkayne of Mars is a fun read, with a dynamite plot and his trademark on point characterizations. It's not among my very favorites, but it does get a reread every decade or so.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
First, I wholeheartedly agree with, and highly recommend, the review by The Iron Fisted Homemaker.

I'm old and grew up reading many of Heinlein's novels in the originally published format. I loved most of them, particularly "Podkayne", and partially credit them for my interest in science and technology, and my pursuit of a career in nuclear engineering. My familiarity with the original publication caused me consternation with this particular novel when my own children reached an age I considered appropriate to read it.

The following may contain information that might prove a "spoiler" to some, so be advised. To avoid wear and tear on my original paperbacks, I would purchase new copies (if they were still in print). Prior to distribution to my children, I always did a quick re-read to ensure that my original estimate of appropriate age was accurate. I was shocked to find that the novel I was reading had a fundamentally different ending than the one I remembered from my youth. The "new" ending changed the reading experience from one with a gradually rising sense of tension, unease, and apprehension, but eventually resolving into feelings of relief and joy, into a similar experience except ending in feelings of sadness and downright sorrow.

Based on the extra material provided, it was clear that the current publisher had decided to replace the originally PUBLISHED ending with the ending originally SUBMITTED by the author to the original publisher. Regardless of the merit of that decision, I felt cheated because I cherished that original novel I read in my youth and this "new" novel had been given the same name and nowhere on the cover indicated that such a radical change had been made. At least one of the reader comments included in the extra material backed up my new estimation of appropriate age when she stated that her read of the novel (with the "new" ending) had left her emotionally crushed for several days. I ended up keeping my new purchase on the shelf for at least three more years than I had planned.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tsend gan
Since college I've consistently (and proudly) slotted Heinlein as my favorite author. More recently I've become less vociferous in my love of Heinlein, as my political and philosophical positions have continued to shift and I feared that a love for Heinlein may not keep up with them. To that end I've failed to continue to seek out and read unfamiliar Heinlein books, and those that I've read before I'm not as eager to reread.

Podkayne of Mars allayed my fears.

What was good: This isn't Heinlein's best book - I'd be surprised if many people listed it in their top 10, actually, but that wasn't because there was anything really wrong with it. It just wasn't as amazing as some of the others. What it did have were Heinlein's hallmarks - a semi-hard science underpinning along with thoroughly imagined cultures, adventures with ever-expanding realms of significance, and a perky protagonist who learns that truth is relative, and their way isn't necessarily the best way. In this particular case, Podkayne is bright young woman who goes on an interplanetary cruise with her younger, possibly sociopathic genius brother, and between the excitement of radiation emergencies and geriatric gossip, she stumbles on a deadly plot that involves her more directly than she would have believed.

The ending... whew. The ending is hard, but retroactively makes the whole book better and more serious.

What isn't as good: The story is a little slow to start, not in a dreary Norrell & Strange way, but in a light and fluffy kind of way. Podkayne's boundless optimism and gosh-darnit-sincerity and her libertarian savvy feel a little out of place in the equivalent of a sixteen-year-old.

The Takeaway: No need to rush out and get this book before reading Heinlein's A-level work, but there's no need to avoid it, either.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
st expeditus
Podkayne of Mars (1963) is the fourteenth SF novels in the Juvenile series, following Starship Troopers. It is set in a future after the Moon, Mars and Venus have been settled. Mars was an autonomous planet, but Venus was still run by the Company. The outer moons were settled, but had little political influence.

Earth had eight billion humans living on it. It was the economic and political powerhouse of the Solar System, but its huge gravity well made trade less profitable with the other planets. Even Luna had less trade with Earth than with other interplanetary ports of call.

In this novel, Podkayne Fries is an eight Martian years old (that would be about fifteen in standard years) female resident of Mars. Poddy was named for a Martian saint by her historian father. Her mother is a Master Civil Engineer -- surface or space -- famed for reconstructing Deimos.

Clark Fries is Poddy's six Martian years old brother, who has an IQ of 160 and the morals of a pirate. Clark is a handful in more than one way. For example, Clark gimmicked the delivery robot to deliver some vile tasting combinations and the company offered him a goodly sum to tell them how he had gotten around the tamperproof seal; Clark denied all responsibility for the incidents.

Tom Fries is Poddy's great-uncle. He is a veteran of the Martian revolution and a Senator-at-Large of the Martian Republic. He spends most of his time at the Elks Club playing pinochle.

In this story, the Fries family has plans to travel to Earth. But then the Marsopolis Creche makes a mistake and suddenly the Fries family has three more children, who are only a month old. Their plans have to be postponed in this family emergency.

Poddy takes her problem to Uncle Tom and he arranges a conference with the director of the creche. The creche agrees to fund a trip to Earth for Poddy, Clark and Uncle Tom. Best of all, the Tricorn is going to Earth via Venus, so Poddy gets a tour of the Triple Planets.

During outprocessing on Deimos, Clark makes a smart remark about two kilos of happy dust just as the inspector is opening Poddy's bag. Clark gets a full body search while Poddy and Uncle Tom are finishing their outprocessing and boarding the ship. For some reasons, Poddy's total mass is three kilos over the limit, but the ship is enough under mass that the clerk clears them to board.

Naturally, Poddy eventually figures out that Clark was smuggling something aboard the ship. He admits to smuggling, but refuses to tell her what it is. Poddy knows better than to pursue the issue any further.

On the Tricorn, Poddy meets some interesting people, including Girdie and Mrs. Grew. Before Poddy came onboard, Girdie had been the center of male attraction, but she befriends Poddy and even gives her some advice that her mother never mentioned. Mrs. Grew seem to be a very jolly person and Poddy enjoys her company.

Other passengers are not so friendly. Mrs. Royer acts nice at first, but takes up too much of Poddy's time for errands and other minor tasks. She turns vicious when Poddy finally rufuses to do a minor request and goes off to an appointment with the Second Officer in the Control Room. Poddy later overhears her making cutting remarks to Mrs. Garcia against the Fries family and tells Clark about the comments. Mrs. Royer soon finds her face turning bright red and Mrs. Garcia has a bright yellow face.

On Venus, Uncle Tom is courted by the Chairman of the Venus Company, which essentially owns the planet. He invites the Fries party to stay at his official residence -- the "cottage" -- but Uncle Tom chooses to take rooms at the rather smaller Tannhauser hotel. Then Poddy is detained within the hotel while she finishes the course of treatments required to wander outside.

This tale has Poddy meeting Dexter, the son of the chairman of the Company. They have several small adventures together while Clark is winning a fortune in the casino. Then Clark disappears and the Company Police cannot find him.

This story was not in the original Juvenile series published by Charles Scribner's Sons. It was published by Putnam, but they required certain small changes in the ending. The first Baen printing presented both the originally submitted version and the originally published version of the conclusion.

IMO, the modified version published by Putnam is the better of the two. I know, Heinlein can do no wrong! But sometimes the editor is far enough from the creative ambiance to see outside the box.

Heinlein had several arguments with his editors, which is why the original Juvenile series was terminated. He also had many arguments over the script for Destination Moon. So he might have been somewhat sensitive to editorial changes.

But this time he accepted the change and let the book be published with a different ending. Maybe he had matured to the point of being able to accept other viewpoints. Read and enjoy!

Highly recommended for Heinlein fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of interplanetary travel, interpersonal relationships, and great female heroines.

-Arthur W. Jordin
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
paige mcgreevy
The copy of Podkayne of Mars that I picked up from the used bookstore is an original copy from the 1960s. The back cover says, "The NOW Generation's favorite novelist has written a novel with which it can identify! Embodying Heinlein's challenging new concepts or morality and social organization in the framework of whimsical -- and terrifying -- adventure on alien planets."

It's been a long time since I thought of myself as being part of the NOW Generation.

This is a borderline "Young Adult" novel that tackles some adult topics. Podcayne is about 15 years old when she and her brilliant younger brother accompany their uncle on a leisure cruise liner to Earth, with a stop at Venus on the way. Or, at least, that's the plan. It all starts when her brother apparently smuggles something on board...

"Factually" speaking, Poddy's story doesn't age well. It's part of Heinlein's Future Universe, in which Mars had native life, Venus was settled by indentured servants, and everyone's eyes were pointed at the stars. So you can't read this expecting that the science holds up.

Yet this novel (which I initially read at the library 25 years ago) has some of my favorite Heinlein moments. First, Poddy is a pretty cool character: bright and articulate with intense ambitions (becoming a spaceship pilot, which is not considered a "girl" career). The story is fun, because her diary shows what Heinlein imagined space travel might be like.

And although Heinlein does indulge in his political lecture-mode (which I know grates on some people), it's not as overwhelming as in later books. Maybe it's because I've always loved this passage, in which Poddy has just bitterly blamed a situation on politics, in her uncle's hearing. He responds: "Politics is not evil; politics is the human race's most magnificent achievement. ... Politics is just a name for the way we get things done without fighting."

Dated? Sure. But I can still curl up with this book and happily disappear into Heinlein's alternate universe. It's very definitely recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is the last of the string of 'juvenile' (young adult) novels that Heinlein wrote in the late fifties and early sixties before he began his series of best selling adult noveles (Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress etc). When Heinlein first submitted it to his publisher the ending was deemed too harsh and he was forced to change it.

The story is told, for the most part, by Podkayne Fries, a 16 year old girl, who lives with her family on Mars. Poddy is an intelligent, ambitious young woman whose chief interests are coping with her bratty younger brother Clark, planning her future career as a starship captain and looking forward to a family trip to Earth. The unexpected arrival of triplet younger siblings change her plans, however, and Poddy and Clark find themselves taking the trip with their uncle instead of their parents. Poddy and Clark discover that there is a bit more to their uncle than the kind card playing layabout they thought him to be and find themselves embroiled in interplanetary politics.

As always with Heinlein's work it is the background bits that he just tosses out as much as the main plot that is the appeal. We get a glimpse of Poddy's life on Mars, see what life on an interplantetary luxury liner would be like and experience what an entire colony run Las Vegas style would be like. Heinlein was often criticized, particularly in his earlier works, as being sexist. In this novel he begins to change this, the story is told mostly from a girl's point of view, her mother is the main breadwinner - a highly sought after engineer, and Podkayne has dreams of piloting through space. On the downside Heinlein abandons his feminist stance, Podkayne who began the story as bright and determined by mid novel begins to waver and be overwhelmed by circumstances ultimately surrendering to Heinlein's theme of a woman's place is in the home. RAH would handle female charcters better in later works.

For Heinlein fans this is a pivotal work, in Poddy we see the beginnings of the more independent women characters that will appear in his later novels, in Clark there is more than a passing similarity to a young Lazarus Long, the futility of racism theme that will return in later novels is a major point here. This is a must read for Heinlein fans, and would also be a good place to begin reading his works.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jeremy poh
Mr Heinlein understood neither girls nor women. And this attempt from the viewpoint of a girl/woman is especially trying. I thought it was awful the first time I read it at13 years of age. A re-reading confirms my earlier opinion. The first person POV is akward. The story hasn't aged well being hackneyed and dated. Stick to his stories of competent boys and men, characters he at least had a clue about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
steve sargent
Heinlein's excellent work, whose title character is a young girl with star pilot ambitions in a solar system where girls just don't do that kind of thing. She and her brother, Clark, an eleven year old amoral supergenius, are being raised by two distracted parents on Mars, but are closer to their Uncle Tom, a (seemingly) retired politician. They wind up in Tom's care on a tour to Venus and Earth. However, Tom seems busy with other things, meeting important people, etc. The kids are left to their own devices. Between the vortex around Tom, and the kids' natural tendencies for mischief, trouble is inevitable.
As has been pointed out in other reviews, this is really Clark's story, his evolution from amoral supergenius to a point where he is starting to care about other beings. There are alternate endings, one was not thought suitable and Heinlein was forced to edit it, now both are in the book. But both endings show Clark starting to care about others than himself. And this is really the point.
Clark is the sort of kid that most of Heinlein's preteen target audience would be just delighted to be. The kids who read Heinlein weren't much interested, at that point in their development, in sports or girls. A rather evil electronics genius who outsmarts adults with impunity, reprograms food robots to serve him unlimited free snacks, and outsmarts a casino, is just what these kids would like to be. While no doubt such a reader would take some interest in Podkayne as necessary to the plot, they would be most interested in Clark's antics.
Yet Clark makes mistakes, through overconfidence in his genius, and those mistakes have consequences for himself and Podkayne, in either ending. He owns up on this to Tom, who "is gentle with" him, as Clark wishes Tom would hit him. Clark realizes, and his readers realize with him, that there is such a thing as adult responsibility for mistakes, that you just have to live with, and that cannot be erased by a spanking. Clark will just have to live with the consequences of his mistakes. From what we can tell, this is a first for Clark, and it seems to change him a bit, giving us hope that Clark will be an adult who is able to exist within society. He is able to care emotionally for Podkayne, and for the small pet she has adopted and protected, Ariel, and who he cares for physically as her surrogate.
This is a coming of age story not for Podkayne, whose personality changes little though the book, but rather for Clark. Doubtlessly, few of the preteen readers realized it at the time, but they probably did in rereading as adults.
Not his best, but still, very, very, good.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maddy pertiwi
You know you're in trouble when the publisher feels the need to resort to baby talk to describe the title character ("People think she's the bestest" . . . she doesn't even talk like that, you talk to pets like that). One of the last novels Heinlein wrote for young adults specifically, this one seems like Heinlein on auto-pilot. You've got Podkayne, a breezy talkative oh so cute teenager who has perhaps one goal in life, to be a starship captain. To be the first female starship captain. And that's it. There's some giggly stuff about babies and how super neat peachy keen it is to visit Earth and Venus but if you try to dig deeper into Podkayne there's just nothing there. She's easy to relate to because she's so ultra-nice and kind but two hundred pages of that gets wearying after a while. Unfortunately it's not helped by a rather episodic plot mostly carried along by Podkayne's cheerful narration . . . she and her brother go visit Venus with her uncle, who apparently is a senator or something. Again, that's it. There's some conflict introduced but it's almost arbitrary, sort of like Heinlein was like, "Gee, this is boring, we'd better make this exciting". Which of course leads to the ending. Ah, the ending, the contraversial ending that so irked the publisher they forced Heinlein to change it. In Heinlein's original ending, Podkayne doesn't make out so well, and so it was changed so that she turns out better . . . however to do it and maintain the same point he was trying to make, he basically hits the reader over the head with it. People have debated this over and over and there are some very well written essays in the back arguing for either ending . . . all of them miss the point. There's no reason to care about Podkayne, if she lives or dies, I read it and I was like, "So?" And maybe I'm just callous, but hey. What saved the book was actually Heinlein's portrayal of her brother, Clark, who is brilliant but almost totally amoral, it's very chilling toward the end when you realize that Clark is basically a sociopath . . . it's handled very well and far more nuanced and interesting than Podkayne, who once she tells you her dream has basically told you all you need to know about her. If you read (or reread) the book from the perspective of it being Clark's story and not Podkayne's, it becomes much more interesting because you can chart his evolution and how he grows and changes (or doesn't). That alone redeems the book. Don't get me wrong, it's far more enjoyable than Friday was, since it's light hearted fun (except for the ending but she basically deserved it anyway . . . as one essayist points out, she was a moron) and Heinlein doesn't beat you over the head with his points. The pacing is good, keeping what little story there is moving swiftly along. And the essays themselves are fun as well. I won't be so dumb as to make a blanket statement that Heinlein can't write women well, once in a while he hits the mark, but if it wasn't for the ending being so notorious I think this would ultimately be judged as a pleasant, if not forgettable read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
swetha amit
I started reading Heinlein's juveniles in the mid-1950s, when he was still producing them. I have read enormous amounts of science fiction ever since, but I still go back and re-read one of his adolescent adventure yarns now and then. They're good for what ails you. Some, admittedly, are overwritten and too sweet, but this story of a very bright girl in her early teens and her younger, brilliant brother is actually pretty well done. Podkayne is a native of Mars, the descendant of intellectuals and others shipped off to a prison colony for their political opinions, on the Australian model. Her mother's an engineer, her father's a historian, and her Uncle Tom is a hero of the Revolution and a Senator-at-Large of the Martian Republic. Uncle is going (very quietly) to a triplanetary conference on Luna, by way of Venus, and Poddy and her brother, Clark, are along for the ride -- and to provide protective coloration, though they don't realize it at first. She learns how to manipulate the younger officers on the star-liner, Clark smuggles aboard a bomb (we're never quite sure why), and nefarious doings are afoot by the political opposition. Heinlein had a knack for projecting likely technical advances of the future (even though Clark still carries a slide rule), but his grip on social change is far less sure. In her attitudes, and those of society, it's as though the Feminist 1960s and '70s never happened. And Poddy at (I think) fifteen is much less sophisticated than the average American twelve-year-old today. Ah, well. Heinlein was incapable of writing anything, even a kid's novel, without including his own social and political opinions, but they're less obtrusive here than in some of his other books. For that matter, Heinlein actually was an ethical and social relativist who loved to contradict himself from book to book, so don't be too sure you know what he actually thought!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenna mills
I read the orginal book when I was a was a typical Heinlein book with the typical heinlein ending.

After his death, there were a lot of Heinlein's books that were reissued with editorial deletions restored basically any book that had been heavily edited were reissued in a more complete restored format.

Some of the books, merely expanded the original text or modified it to make a more complete book. A lot of changes were done for no real reasons. There were other books that explained Heinlein's problems with certain editors, I think it might have been "Grumbles"

The two books have a common thread..the similiarities end there. With the edits restored you see what the Master was trying to say. You know, you read a book...and there are times that there is just something missing. You can't put your finger on it...but, it's just not there.

The editors axe may be the explanation. When the editorial custs are restored it becomes a more complete fact, it comes across as a totally different book..and it sure has a totally different ending.

If you can find both, get them and read them..and you will get really angry with the editors. I was denied answers for 20 years. At least, I got a chance to read this book as Heinlein intended. Not as some editor felt it should be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lana torres
Podkayne had always wanted to go to Earth, but I don't think this is how she planned her trip. Podkayne of Mars starts off with Podkayne, her younger brother Clark, and their Uncle Tom taking a trip from Mars to Earth. Podkayne had never left Mars before and was extremely excited to be aboard the Tricorn, a luxury space ship. Podkayne has a dream of becoming a famous space pilot. So she entertained herself by getting to know the crew and learning about the controls and how the ship works. She even helped out when the ship was hit with a radiation storm. But things take a bad turn when Podkayne finds out that Clark was paid to smuggle a bomb onto the ship. Someone wanted to stop the Tricorn from reaching Venus, the one stop they had to make on their way to earth. Clark gladly took the money, but then Clark disassembled the bomb and they got to Venus safely. Podkayne and Clark were excited that the ship would have a long stop on Venus and that there was plenty of time to explore. After a while on Venus, Clark went missing. While people continued to look for him into the next day, Podkayne found a note left by Clark. It said that he had gone to rescue their friend Girdie, a lady that they had met on the Tricorn. Clark had left instructions for Podkayne as to what to do if she found the note. She was to go to a certain news stand and ask for everlites. She was told to ask for two and say that it was dark where she was going. She later found out that this was all a trap, and the next thing she knew, she was waking up in a strange place. She figured that she had been kidnapped. She looked around and saw Mrs. Grew, another one of their friends from the Tricorn. At first she was excited to see her but then Mrs. grew put Podkayne in a chair and did something to the back of her neck so Podkayne couldn't move from the neck down. Podkayne could look around, though, and she saw her Uncle Tom and Clark sitting there too. Uncle Tom was a senator and was gong to represent Mars at the Three Planet Conference. He was the one that people didn't want to get to the Venus. Mrs. Grew was trying to persuade him to represent her ideas at the conference by threatening Podkayne and Clark. Uncle Tom was released to go to the conference but to make sure that Uncle Tom cooperated; Podkayne and Clark were held captive in a room guarded by a carnivorous fairy and her baby. Clark knew that they would be killed once Uncle Tom did what he was supposed to do so he developed a plan to get them out. That night Clark had to kill the fairy and they were able to escape. Clark had kept the bomb that he had smuggled and set it to blow the house up after they left. Their plan was to get out and find Uncle Tom. Once out of the house they split up and Clark got lost. Clark was in the middle of the swamp when he felt the bomb go off. Clark was rescued and then he found out that Podkayne had gone back to the house to save the baby fairy from getting blown up. She got lost and didn't get far enough away from the house. She was caught in the bomb's blast. Podkayne saved the baby fairy but was almost killed herself. She will live but it will take a while for her to recover. Her act of kindness could change her life forever. This book is extremely interesting and funny.

This book has a lot of funny scenes that could only happen in a science fiction book. For example, when the ship was gong through a radiation storm, Podkayne helped out by helping Girdie take care of the babies on board. The babies wouldn't stop crying and Podkayne had nothing else to do so she helped. Just as they got all of the babies calmed down and asleep, the ship went into freefall. All of the babies started crying and to make it worse all of the gravity was gone. Babies started floating out of their cribs. On top of that, the motion made a lot of babies sick so they started throwing up. The vomit just floated around in the air and sometimes hit the people trying to catch the floating babies. She made a mental note that babies don't like free fall. Another funny scene is when Podkayne was being held captive by Mrs. Grew. The only thing that was keeping Podkayne from just walking out was a fairy, who Podkayne called Titania, perched above the door. Podkayne didn't think this was much of a threat because it looked really cute. But when Podkayne got close to the door, Titania attacked her. She found out that fairies can be very vicious because they have sharp teeth and claws, and Podkayne has a cut on her arm to prove it. Another funny thing about this book was a room that Podkayne wandered into while her uncle was taking care of other business in the building. On Mars they have a form of baby care that lets parents sign a six-month withdrawal contract. It's a place where you can send your baby until it is six months old for others to take care of. They figure that the babies don't care who takes care of them for the first few months and it takes a lot of stress off the mother in the early months.

Although Clark is very smart, it is funny to see how many times he gets into trouble through out the book. For example, when Clark was paid to smuggle a bomb onto the ship, he met a guy at the station when they were waiting to check in their bags. He took the bomb and hid it in one of Podkayne's bags. When the check-in guy asks if they had any illegal items they `wanted to declare' no one said anything. Buy when the guy was about to look through the bag that had the bomb in it, Clark distracted them by saying that he had some Happy Dust. This substance was illegal and would turn any Venusman into a murderous monster. Clark had to go through many hours of intense searches and questioning just so they wouldn't find what he really had. Another example is when Clark dyed the faces of two ladies on the Tricorn. They didn't respect the marsmen and thought they were lower class. This upset Podkayne and Clark a lot. So Clark decided to do something about it. He took color pigments from a camera that only shows up if they're in a light. He put that on their towels, so when they rubbed their faces with the towels the color got on them. The whole time they tried to get it off (in the light) it just kept getting darker and darker. One other time that Clark got into trouble was when they were practicing taking cover in the shelter for a radiation storm. Clark was very slow and the last one that they rounded up. The captain of the ship wasn't very happy with this and scolded Clark in front of all the passengers. He said that if Clark wasn't the first one in the shelter when the alarm sounded, that he would spend the rest of the trip confined inside the shelter. The next time the alarm sounded, Clark was the very first person in that shelter.

One interesting thing in this book was that some of the issues that we deal with today, still existed and Podkayne had to deal with them in her time. For example, in the future, it is still harder for girls to do things, simply because they are girls. Podkayne wants to become a famous space pilot when she is older. But this is pretty much a male profession. So even if she's really smart, she would have to do extra work because she is a girl. This makes her rethink her plans a little. Another issue is people still being prejudiced against others. People from other planets don't really respect people from Mars. Mars was originally a penal colony and Podkayne has convicts as her ancestors, but she's never been ashamed of it. So when she overheard a conversation between Mrs. Royer and Mrs. Garcia, she got angry. They said that all marsmen were criminals and that they didn't know how to act around `their betters." Podkayne was upset because she considered herself an equal. Another issue in the book was parents spending too much time at work and not enough with their kids. After the accident with Podkayne and the bomb, Uncle Tom called her parents. He was mad at them. He said that people who won't take care of their children shouldn't have them. He said that with them always going off on work business, between them Podkayne was almost killed. She will get better but no thanks to them. He said he had doubts about Clark, and it might be too late to do anything about him. But they needed to try and hurry.

This is a great book that I would recommend to anyone ages 10 and up.

C. Chapman
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This was the last of the Heinlein `juveniles', the only one written with a female point-of-view character, and the only one not subject to the editorial dictates of a certain prudish editor at Scribners, though it still suffered at the hands of the editor at Putnam (more of which later).
Podkayne (named after a Martain saint, but just "Poddy" to her friends) and her younger amoral genius-level brother Clark get to take a trip to Earth with a side stop at Venus accompanied only by their retired Martian senator uncle Tom, as their parents are unexpectedly having to deal with three newly decanted babies due to a crèche mix-up. Most of the story is a detailing of the events during their journey on the spaceship and the sights, people, and society of Venus, as carefully recorded in Poddy's diary (with occasional inserts by Clark). This method of telling a story is difficult to do effectively, but for the most part it comes across very well in this book.
Poddy is a very likeable, friendly person who is, unfortunately, a little too naïve, a little too cute, a little too much preoccupied with babies, boys, and proving herself to be `just as good as a man' to be quite believable as a (supposedly) highly intelligent but otherwise normal teen-age girl. Clark, on the other hand, is all too believable as a boy with adult knowledge and a child's `me' centered view of the universe. Clark is the prime mover of the events, but for the most part he remains offstage, and we only learn about what he has done as filtered by Poddy's perceptions. Clearly the most interesting character in the book, his actions, mistakes, and emotional development fit well with the thematic line that Heinlein is presenting, on the responsibilities of parenting, an individual's own responsibility for his actions regardless of external factors, on the importance of one's relations and duties to others.
Along the way, Heinlein does his typical excellent job of describing the scientific aspects of space flight and navigation in a manner that consistently remains interesting, comprehensible, and accurate. Also part of the Heinlein territory are his comments on population control, gambling, unfettered capitalism, the art of politics, racial prejudice, the attitudes of the `moneyed' class towards their `inferiors', and prostitution - an item that would never have gotten by his editor at Scribners.
The ending of this book has caused a fair amount of controversy. At the insistence of his publisher, Heinlein was forced to change his original ending to one that was far less traumatic, an `all ends well' type ending, as this was, after all, a 'children's book'. In so doing, however, the thematic line and Clark's development do not reach full closure. This edition of the book has both Heinlein's original ending and the changed ending, along with multiple essays and comments from readers about the pros and cons of each ending. For my money, Heinlein's original ending is considerably better, even though it probably makes the book unsuitable for very young readers, dealing with the consequences of actions, death, and the harshness of the universe towards stupidity, but the average teenager should have not only have no problem with it, I think they will find it more believable, more true to life.
Not his best, but certainly eminently readable and enjoyable by both teens and adults, and still better than ninety percent of all the other material on the racks.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I first read this story as a teenager during the early '60s, and today, I put the same spin on it that I did back then. Podkayne is a smart if somewhat naiive young chick with an equally-smart kid brother with pretensions to world-weariness (he's a believer in Goethe's "One must the hammer or the anvil be"--or thinks he is anyway). Despite that, he's just as much a product of a sheltered life as Sis. They go through all the dilemmas of adolescence and pre-adolescence, and a few years later, I couldn't help but compare them to "The Patty Duke Show" on TV. Podkayne and Clark are an interplanetary Patty and Ross. I don't care what decade this is, I refuse to see this book as gender-political. It isn't set in the '60s I grew up in, nor the '90s--it's set well beyond the Millennium. I can be just as political as the next guy, but it seems like one nasty after effect of the punk rock era is that all entertainment is now examined for ideological clues. Me, I guess I'm a dinosaur--I listen to a record for the MUSIC and read a book for the STORY. In each case, it keeps me from being bored--that's all the "relevant" I need.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elissa lewis
I've always like Heinlein, but had never heard of this book. I decided to give the audio book a try and will break the review into two parts. The reader is Emily Janice Card. She was perfect for this part since she sounds like a teenager and fit the character well. The audio quality was very good and I would rate the audio book 5 stars.

The main characters were two very precocious kids and the boy sounded almost too adult to fit his age. Overall I found the book to be OK, but this was not one that I would highly recommend to others. It had some good moments, but didn't capture my interest as other Heinlein books have. I would give the book 3 stars and give this audio book 4 stars overall.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nicole peterson
This book was written just before the feminist

movement's 2nd-half-of-20th-century phase got

underway. Heinlein had not yet broken free of

traditional gender roles (as he certainly did

shortly thereafter), although it is perfectly

obvious that he not only values, but always enjoys,

intelligence as a personality trait in women. So

you have to forgive him for certain things in order

to enjoy this book.

I love the playful style of language in which this

book is written -- it is unique among Heinlein's many


When a cerain person turns out to be a mercenary

terrorist, the protagonist's brilliant but anti-social

younger brother Clark is unsurprised, because once,

when she hadn't known he was watching, he had seen

that person cheating at solitaire!! How do you like that!

(A similar insight occurs elsewhere in Heinlein's

fiction, in the short story _Gulf_, when Kettle-Belly

Baldwin says "Evil is essentially stupid.")
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Although some are now claiming that this is not a juvenile novel, it is. I read it when it was new and have reread it many times. Younger readers tend to misinterpret portions as the connotations of some words has changed as have idioms. Certainly, it has some adult overtones -- it was written for teens, not toddlers. It is also the first of Heinlein's transition works into adult fiction. Podkayne of Mars is filled with images of Heinlein's fears of the moral decline of human civilization. The reader will be clubbed over the head with some of them, but there are more subtle ones that don't register until some time has passed. I get more out of it each time I read this wonderful novel. It is not Heinlein's best work, but it is still excellent. Just remember that the meaning of words shifts with time and go with the story as it was intended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
a j bryant
Not as intellectual as some of RAH's other books, this is a more "down to earth" story. The protoganist is a coming-of-age female who narrates the book with her engrossing viewpoints and childhood naivety. One might say this is a juvenile novel, as it is short and has the obligatory teenage lead character, but on the other hand this book is somewhat self-indulgent (consisting of a pretty big vocabulary) and has some underlying themes and preachiness (especially in the original ending) that may be lost on younger readers. What this accomplishes in the end however, is making the book where both young adults and adults will enjoy the book. Although not really suspenseful, this book does mangage to make you keep reading it, and the characters are all very nice (I especially got a kick out of Podkayne's brother, Clark). Not Heinlein's best book, but you'll like it if you're a fan. Pick it up.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
After a decade of writing novels for young people (known as juveniles back then -- today we'd call them young adult novels), Robert Heinlein came back to the form for one last shot. "Podkayne of Mars" is a charming story of a young girl's ambition to become the first female starship captain, and her travels to Venus with her uncle and her sociopathic genius of a younger brother. This edition puts together Heinlein's original ending, the rewritten published ending, and a spate of letters from fans arguing over their relative merits. I read the story first as a teenager with the gentler ending; I reread it recently with both endings. Personally, I think either ending works, although I generally think Heinlein knew what he was doing in the first place before editors started demanding cuts. A novel that promotes the idea of the equality of women, as well as a diatribe against racism, "Podkayne" was ahead of its time for 1963 (although the subjects were in the air the previous decade, they weren't in literature for young people at all). The argument at the end of the novel, blaming the mother and father for neglecting their children, has rubbed some people the wrong way; but the idea that one of the parents ought to be home raising the child isn't all that dangerous, is it? After all, a dominant majority of our prison population was raised without a father in the home, while the mother struggled. Good parenting creates good children; bad parenting, Heinlein is arguing, creates bad children. I, for one, don't object to Heinlein's literature carrying philosophical or moral arguments; they help me to think about my own positions, even when I disagree with Heinlein. In my opinion, Heinlein's tendency to have his characters voice strong opinions (which many label preaching), is precisely the reason we're still talking about him. There are many writers of his era who told great stories; there are few we're still bothering to read. "Podkayne of Mars" is a great story, but it's also a great argument: enjoy it on both counts, and feel free to disagree. I think Heinlein wanted it that way.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elizabeth cannon
Podkayne Fries is a fabulous narrator. (I've read book reviews in which the male author is praised for writing as a woman. None of those authors can hold a candle to Heinlein.) She not only describes her journey -- from Mars to Venus en route to Earth -- but also her dreams and desires and her aversion to prejudice. She's similar to Terran teenage girls of our time.
The ending (originally written or originally published, take your pick) is a bit rough for many teenagers, in my opinion. Of course, if they're reading Heinlein, they're probably not ordinary teenagers! (More's the pity!)
Heinlein's got it down pat, to the cool older woman to whom Poddy looks up, to Poddy's crush on the rich heir, to the bratty yet brilliant younger brother. For a mature teenager, male or female, this book will make a great gift, and one that the young adult will re-read as a full-grown adult.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book was written just before the feminist

movement's 2nd-half-of-20th-century phase got

underway. Heinlein had not yet broken free of

traditional gender roles (as he certainly did

shortly thereafter), although it is perfectly

obvious that he not only values, but always enjoys,

intelligence as a personality trait in women. So

you have to forgive him for certain things in order

to enjoy this book.

I love the playful style of language in which this

book is written -- it is unique among Heinlein's many


When a certain person turns out to be a mercenary

terrorist, the protagonist's brilliant but anti-social

younger brother Clark is unsurprised, because once,

when it was not known that he was watching, he had seen

that person cheating at solitaire!! How do you like that!

(A similar insight occurs elsewhere in Heinlein's

fiction, in the short story _Gulf_, when Kettle-Belly

Baldwin says "Evil is essentially stupid.")
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Podkayne of Mars" is one of Heinlein's best 'Juvenile' science fiction stories. If you could use a gift for a teenage girl, this would be great! I read it when it first came out and have re-read it many times.

The science fiction is so good that folks planning the eventual manned Mars trip go to this story and other Heinlein science fiction for ideas on what to include in their ship!

"Podkayne" is one of the stories that hooked many of us Heinlein fans into reading every word Heinlein ever wrote. That is how good this story is.

Warning! The ending will get teenagers to crying, which may actually be a good thing. Also, American culture has changed since this was written and the main character may seem naive to today's teenagers.

Buy it! Read it! Give it away as gifts!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Robert Heinlein never could get over the charge that he was a misogynist - because he espoused the "different but equal" theory of gender relations, rather than the "exactly the same as each other" interpretation. With this book, on the cusp between Heinlein's mainly juvenile stories and his much deeper adult fiction, we see one of the most obvious examples of Heinlein's "different but equal" characters in the titular Podkayne.

Obviously it's a stretch for a middle-aged man to write a 1st-person account as a 15-year-old (in Earth years!) girl. Podkayne's goal in life is to become an explorer pilot, even though it's a male-dominated profession, even though she will not be educated in the top schools, and even though she is of questionable anscestry (born on the former penal colony of Mars). She gets the chance to see first-hand what space travel is like when her uncle (a senator for the Martian Republic, and ex-transported convict) agrees to take her to Venus and then Earth. A 3-planet conference is taking place on the Moon that he will attend. Unknown to Podkayne at the time of departure: radical elements do not want the Senator to make it to the conference, and others want to use him to push their own agendas contrary to the Senator's beliefs.

If this sounds complex for a "juvenile novel," I think it is. The reason it's classified as such is that the main characters are young (Podkayne and her even younger brother), and the dialogue is relatively simple, even when the ideas are complex. In comparison to, say, Between Planets or Rocket Ship Galileo, the plot is much darker and more subtle. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't really sustain itself - Podkayne is too much of a Pollyanna to really understand her situation, and it's difficult for the reader to take her seriously, especially in the closing 1/3 of the book when her brother takes control.

However, I think an adult reader will still find a lot here worth reading, especially the Heinlein fan. Besides the obvious gender observations that are still relevant today (e.g. that most men cannot bear to date a smarter woman), he adds some class and race undertones that became more important as Heinlein matured as a writer. Finally, the violence of the last part of the book may put off some readers, although if the child has watched a few episodes of "24" or "ER" on TV, they'll have seen worse.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I think a lot of readers missed a very fine point in this book. THE BOOK WAS NOT ABOUT PODDY. The book was the diary of a ditzy teen (lovable, but still ditzy) who was witnessing a very intricate political plot unfold around her. The clues are all in there for the reader to find...'cause Poddy sure ain't seeing them. And the ultimate goal in this book was not to have Poddy grow up and make more Poddys. It was to redeem Clark. Re-read the endings. In one, Clark basically shrugs off everything that has happened. Poddy was hurt, but she's gonna be okay, so he doesn't have anything to worry about. In the "new" ending (the ending as Heinlein rightly intended it) Clark is forced to wake up and smell the evil. For the first time, he must own up to his actions and start acting with compasssion for others.
Re-read the book if you didn't like it. Go on. I dare you.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
marylyn leet
A teenage girl, Podkayne Fries, and her brother, Clark (IQ 160) leave their home on Mars to take a trip on a space liner to visit Earth. The trip is orchestrated by by their uncle, who turns out to be a little more than old veteran. Here devious brother smuggle aboard "something", which the reader finds out only at the end. Among the passengers they meet Girdie, an attractive mature woman whom Clarks, a teenager, helplessly falls in love (Clark is around 13-16?, Podkayne 15-20?). The Solar winds hits the liner, social order in this luxury yacht make things very interesting to Poddy and Clark. The liner arrives at Venus: an ultra-capitalistic, no-rules planet where the only requirements to spend money are: you are alive and you got money (no age limits). The planet is run by a single corporation and every activity which hinders making money is severely punished with fines; therefore there are no crimes. Her brother Clark vanishes and kidnappers get a hold on Podkeyne and her Uncle, who is on secret mission, too.

The plot is written in voice of Podkayne's diary which at first feels uncomfortable and too "girlish" to raise an interest. Surprisingly the story grows after the group onbords the liner. The style soon swallows the reader as the adventures in the ship start taking interesting turns. The bird's eye of Podkayne gives the reader rare opportunity to experience Heinlein as a character writer. The action-Heinlein is still there, but the events and the phase of turns flow in good proportions to complement the story line.

Three (3) stars. Diary of a Girl? Heinlein writing from a girl perspective? It is delightful to encounter this book written in 1963. Early Heinlein (pre 1960) is notoriously known by his cardboard thin characters and complete inability to depict women in other than supportive roles; weeping, emotion sensitive, kitchen-husband pillars. Although the traits are still visible, here we have vivid, imaginative characters. Not just Podkayne, but Girdie, mercenary Mrs. Grew, father-figure secret senator uncle Tom to mention a few. Heinlein also doesn't wander around like in early juvenile stories. This story has clear start, development - tension is built along the way - and good ending. A Good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lisa ambrose
At the risk of becoming unpopular, I'm going to say that I agree with Heinlein's main premise: Children are not happy when they grow up without parents. It's sad, but it's true. I worked in a daycare and I saw many young Clarke's in the making.

I'll also say that I love Heinlein's female characters. They are beautiful, intelligent, and wholesome people who I find very realistic, though they were superwomen just as Heinlein's male charecters were supermen. We cannot all wrassle a grizzly bear, piolet a spaceship, and live 1000 years. Who wants to read about ordinary people?

Podkayne strikes me as being very close to many of the girls I grew up with. I lived in the U.S. Midwest, and we are not a sophisticated lot. Her planet was said (in the book) to be more conservative than modern Earth. Also, why do people assume that you have to be divorced from sexuality to be a whole person? She flirts, and enjoys being female. Why are women forced to chose between being intelligent creatures and sexual creatures? It's a disservice that we do to ourselves. I happen to have a genius plus IQ and measurements of 34-26-34. I like men, I like flirting, and that doesn't make me an airhead. Most of the women who assume I'm stupid usually cannot even solve a quadriatic equation.

I only have one great objection to this book. Uncle Tom lays the blame entirely at the feet of the mother. I'm sorry, but in a relationship like theirs, where she's making three times as much as her husband and his job is in an uncritical field (he's a freekin' historian!) I think he's the one we should be shaking our heads at. Why the h*** didn't he stay home and raise the children?!?!?! What was so important about history that it wouldn't wait until their children were grown?!?!? He was irresponsible, and I say shame on *him* for putting his ambition ahead of the welfare of his children.

Children cannot raise themselves. I wish they could, and no matter how much you spend on child-care they won't put as much work into it as a parent. I know this-My mom ran a daycare and I daily wept for the neglect these children got, and my mom tried desperately to fill the void in their lives.

Maybe it was too radical an idea for Heinlein to wrap his mind around-that in a case like theirs where the man is more empathetic and his job is less critical, that he should stay home and make certain the children are turning into human beings rather than remaining the a-moral animals all small children are. I can forgive Heinlein for making this mistake. I am disgusted at those who can honestly tell me that a life spent in day-care or with no supervision is good for children.

Raising a child is the most important thing to us today, if we value survival of the species. Podkayne might have liked adventure, but she was a warm, empathetic creature, and I cannot imagine her being happy working with numbers and cold space. Many intelligent women and men chose to be nurses over doctors. Have you seen "Meet the Parents"? Doctors don't get the time to really connect with their patients like nurses do.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
georgia jordan
This seems to be one of Heinlein's most underappreciated novels. Yes,it is about a teenage girl and her younger brother but that does not necessarily make it a juvenile novel. I pity the person so dead inside that there is no inner child to find delight in such pleasures. I have read it several times over the years and enjoyed it each time. I always found it very sad that there was no sequel. In today's market, such characters would have spawned whole series of novels. And Clark was/is one of the best supporting characters in all of literature.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I remember enjoying this book 45 years ago. But now the funnest thing about this old copy of Podkayne of Mars (Ace Science Fiction) is the misdirectional blurb on the back cover: "An interplanetary bombshell who rocked the constellations when she invaded the Venus Hilton and attacked the mighty mechanical men with a strange, overpowering blast of Sex Appeal."

A good rule of thumb is never to re-read adolescent fiction. Leave it alone with your subconscious. But because of that blurb I had to re-read this volume to make sure it's safe for my eleven-year-old.

Not to worry. In this 1963 novella, Robert Heinlein sticks to the classic formula of a sweet adolescent girl and her troublesome, precocious younger brother caught up in an interplanetary intrigue.

The interesting aspect of the book is Heinlein's attempt to portray the first-person female persona and identify an essential difference between man and woman. Although Podkayne is not very successful in this regard, you can tell that Heinlein is really interested. A few years later he revisited this theme in I Will Fear No Evil. But as a psychological study that ambitious and "adult" novel was no more successful than the chaste Podkayne.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
I just recently read Podkayne of Mars a second time. And, while I did somewhat find the "story" interesting (for a second time, to see if there was anything I missed) I felt it was still very lacking.

I do agree with many reviews that it seems to be her brother Clark who changes, even though the book primarily follows Podkayne or "Poddy" Fries.

Podkayne has plans to be the first female pilot, and goes with her Uncle to Earth in order to follow her dream. (The trip is partly based on a Mars government baby mix-up). The book tells of her trip from Mars, to Venus...and, towards the very end, a political plot that involves Podkayne's uncle.

My main gripe is that there is no strong plot, no urgency. We're just following Poddy on her observations and ambitions.Even if we were to follow her brother, Clark, we are still asking ourselves, "Where is this story going?"..."Why do I care about these characters

We do get a sense that Clark changes, and possibly "grows up," but the book takes awhile to get to that point.(Again, I was following Podkayne, not Clark...).

As a book, and the way Robert Heinlein writes this, it's "interesting"...but, personally, I would have preferred a quicker pace (maintaining the strong writing) and a strong plot. (Okay, she want's to be a pilot, but what are the obstacles that constantly barrage her from attaining that goal?)
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nandana nallapu
Characterization has never been a strong suit in classic science fiction, but at least the usual flat, predictable, stock characters don't steal a lot of attention away from the story. But Heinlein's longstanding tendency to draw his characters larger than life gets badly out of hand in this modest adventure yarn. Two kids whose intelligence far exceeds their good judgment are the protagonists, and surely they are the most annoying characters ever spotlighted in sci-fi. The manipulative little boy genius in particular is badly in need of some serious disciplining (he smuggles a bomb on board ship in order to make a few bucks - this not your average mischief-making here).

Of course Heinlein is trying to make a point (when isn't he?) that children who don't get enough attention from their parents are inclined to grow up under-socialized. But he uses this point to posit that a woman's place is in the home, taking care of children, a thesis that will surely not endear him to today's women. But if female readers aren't the target audience for this book, then why have a female protagonist (Podkayne is a little girl's name) in the first place? So clearly this is not the book's flaw, but its actual intention: Heinlein specifically wrote this book to tell young women to forget their dreams of an exciting career and get used to spending their lives raising children. So much for the author's vaunted libertarianism - it obviously doesn't apply to the female half of the human race.

This book also features racial elements that seem more than a little out of place. Presumably Heinlein meant well - writing in a racist society, he wanted to show how fundamentally unimportant race really is, but then he undercuts his own thesis by the very fact of calling attention to it. And having Poddy continually referring to her uncle (the ambassador) as "Uncle Tom"! This reviewer was embarrassed to be reading it.

Both of these attempts at social relevance seem painfully misguided from a modern perspective; to say that this book is badly dated would be a gross understatement. Any entertainment value that might have attached to this book is overshadowed by the monumental ignorance the author displays in his attempts to portray characters with whom he pretty clearly has nothing in common. A valuable lesson to would-be writers: stick to what you know. The best part of this book? At least it was short.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
sharon rohnert
This book, first published in 1963, has not matured very well. The account of a feisty young lady on an exciting space adventure lumbers along at a glacial pace.

Written as a series of diary entries this book is stuffed full of "off the shelf" characters: Tom the paternalistic uncle with a mysterious past on a hush-hush diplomatic mission, Clarke the troublesome brother with the high IQ always into some tomfoolery, the over achiever mother and her doddering husband, the maids who are in reality spies and on and on. No spoilers here but the plot and its resolution is as flat as two-day-old soda in an open can. One item that disturbed me was the introduction of an exciting concept or idea just to see it dropped and forgotten for the rest of the novel. For example we are informed that Mars, where Podkayne was born and raised had native Martians, now we switch to another topic...forget about the Martians.

Still, there is considerable Heinlein magic scattered throughout the story. I particularly like his short digressions from the predictable plot to have a character speak a few words of Heinlein's philosophy. Uncle Tom tell us that politics, the concept of give and take and comprise, which to many seem to be selling out or betrayal of ideals, is infinitely more preferable to it's alternative: war.

I recently read Heinlein's novel Friday I could imagine that Podkayne Fries as Friday all grown up. OK, she became a spy and not the pilot of a star ship, a minor point I will concede.
For the legion of Heinlein fan by all means read this book. If you are new to Heinlein there are many other titles I would recommend before this one: Farnham's Freehold, Glory Road and Sixth Column just to name a few that I have admired over the years.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stephen broeker
I read and loved this book (with the gentler ending) when I was in junior high school. I found it a fun adventure, much like "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel." Poddy and Clark are two smart, capable kids who go from one adventure into an even bigger one, and ultimately save the day.
I didn't see a moral message about absentee parents. There is one comment that Poddy's uncle makes to her parents at the end; however, her parents never get the chance to reply. In the family I saw, Poddy loves her family very much and is very proud of them, and her family loves her back, including her parents, her brother (even thought he wouldn't admit it), and her uncle. Yes, Clark does have some odd social quirks, but that does not make him a sociopath. His pranks are either harmless or well deserved (and are fun to read).
If you liked this novel, try Heinlein's short story "The Meanace from Earth", which is about a girl with aspirations similar to Poddy's.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This was the very first Heinlein book I read as a kid (about 16 years old, I think) and I was immediately hooked.
Podkayne was such a regular kid, but she had such interesting adventures and her little brother is a hoot! This is probably not Heinlein's most intellectual novel, but it was certainly the most fun. I recently gave my copy to my 13-year-old daughter to read and she lost it! Well, I guess I know where to find another copy now
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ashley davisson
I read this as a kid. and then later as an adult. With the original ending. This is NOT a Juvenal. I don't think the Master ever intended it to be juvie, and the publisher jacking around with the ending was - not nice.
This is about the time that RH started writing what the frakk he wanted to write, and sometimes got a little creepy to some, but I realize that Maureen was just Jenny in disguise.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
First, I think this is yet another Heinlein great. There are two versions of this book on the market. The difference between them is how the story ends. Heinlein originally wrote a particular ending, the publisher didn't like it and talked Heinlein into changing it. Later, a publishing company (I don't recall which) had a contest. People read both endings of the book. The original manuscript ending, and the first published version. They then wrote essays arguing for which version to print in a new paperback edition. They decided to include both endings, so now you can decide for yourself. But read the book at any rate. If you want another Heinlein with a female central character, try Friday and To Sail Beyond the Sunset. Of course the women in those books don't have the innocent child-like character of Podkayne.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
n l hoffmann
This book is completely out of character for Heinlein. The narrative is weak (for him), and is as full of foreboding as a cheap melodrama. He lets us learn to like the endearing heroine, then proceeds to make it clear that she's doomed. And she is. The editors forced him to change the original ending so that she survives - an excellent decision on their part. When my wife read the original, she jumped out of her chair in fury - the typical response.
Heinlein is usually upbeat, but this ones a downer. Be warned.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For those of you calling Podkayne Fries a moron, an oh so cute teenager, that she deserved what happened, and calling this book a "beginning of the end" I have a few things to explain. I first read this book when I was probably fifteen and Poddy Fries quickly became one of my best friends. She was confident, funny, and smart-yes SMART!! This is an awesome book. In some minds it may not compare to Stranger in a Strange Land or his other masterpieces, but in my eye's this is the masterpiece. This was written for children, and it teaches them a good lesson-life can't always be happy. This is a fun, sweet, and innocent book. In a world full of hypocrites, drugs, violence, and sex this is just what our youth needs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sara johansson
This book is very good. I was alittle upset wit the end. But I beleive that what I have read is a version that was not what heinlein intended. Other than that the book was great. I realy liked pody and I thought that clark was realy neat. I enjoyed the book and would recomend it to anybody
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
jason kulczycki
Robert Heinlein, science fiction grandmaster and creative genius though he was, had a problem with women. Let's face it. Though in some cases displaying writing skills to stand with the best of them, he never really managed to wrap his head around the idea that members of this mysterious other gender were actually human beings, capable of their own thoughts, works, and aspirations. The start of "Podkayne of Mars" might almost fool you into believing that he intended to redeem himself. The title character begins as an intelligent, strong-willed, and questioning person.

And then inexplicably morphs into a dumb, submissive pansy. I am at a loss to guess how Heinlein would justify this reverse character development. But "Poddy", who at the start explored and pushed boundaries on her own, soon starts falling into obvious traps and suffering intense inability to put two and two together. As others have remarked, Heinlein really seems more interested in her kid brother Clark, an evil genius in training. His exploits provide the few (mildly) entertaining bits of the book.

As for plot, what plot? More a series of vignettes with a thin thread running through them, we get little to care about here. The middle is filled with thoughts about the simmering grudges between the hardcore Mars-dwellers and the fat-and-happy denizens of Earth,but Heinlein coveredc that ground to greater effect in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or even "The Rolling Stones". Then the endings, both of them, roll in with their pointless moralizing about the proper roll of women. Finally we get a collection of letters from readers complaining about how the original publisher should have allowed Heinlein to use the ending he wanted. Soory folks, but it takes more than an obnoxious editor to rationalize away this train wreck.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brenda lucero
Of all the Heinlein books I read when I was young, this was not one of them. But now with a 12 year old girl who is exposed to all the junk around us now, I figured it would be a good bet.

Heinlein came through. Erin loves it, and it gives us a lot to talk about, especially since it's about a strong young girl without all the PC nonsense we find everywhere else.

Now she's on to Starship Troopers!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lisa dlh
I remember reading this book when I was 13 for the first time, and it was one of the books I took with me to college. What an absolute delight of a book, though I would recommend it more for young readers, it still holds my interest as an adult.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cynthia dahle
Young girls read this and have fun... I read this a young teen in the 60's and have never forgot it. Maybe the reviewers are old mature folks, but as a girl it took me along on a fun ride! Parents hand it to your kids without fear.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
valerie sullivan
This story is a really great book. It gives you detail and all the good stuff you look for in a book. The only reason I gave this a 4 star was because the ending was horrible.I mean I wanted a sequel to this but you can't because the main character,Podkayne, dies. But otherwise this is a really good book!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
susan williams
Even though this is possibly the worst juvenile sci fi novel about a girl EVER WRITTEN, I feel I had to leave a comment here: this book changed my life. Remember the old "Ms." magazine and how they used to do articles about how various women had a "click" moment where their sensibilities about feminism snapped into place? Well, PODKAYNE OF MARS was my click moment. It made me a feminist. The year was 1963, and this was a brand new book by one of my favorite sci fi authors and it was about a girl! A girl who wanted to be a starship captain! I had to wait weeks for the book to come in, and rushed home to read it.
Imagine my disappointment! I could literally spend all day just pointing out the bad spots -- the lame characterizations, dull expository, lecturing, etc. But of course the worst thing here is that the book is utterly demeaning to young women. Poddy is a painful charicture of a teenager, with all kinds of agonizingly cute mannerisms. She actually thinks of herself as "an astonished kitten", and never interacts with a man, not even her elderly great uncle without knowingly flirting.
I have absolutely nothing against a book about a young woman who wishes to become a mother or raise children -- it's a perfeclty noble ambition. But why set us up for an adventurous tale about a girl starship captain and then have her be this simpering little priss?
Obviously Heinlein was bored with Poddy by the end of the first chapter and really wanted to tell the story of her bratty brother. Did some editor press him into writing a story for girls, when he really had no interest? (He never did write female characters particularly well, and we are all aware of his atavistic attitudes towards women in general.)
The story is plenty bad in other ways...there is no real plot or conflict. Mainly, Poddy, Clark and Uncle Tom travel to Venus on a luxury starship reminiscent of the QEII and mainly full of dull, rich elderly people. When she isn't flirting with older men (yeeccch) the "astonished kitten" is looking after babies in a nursery mainly for the "lower class" steerage type passengers. This activity is what causes her to change her mind about being a space pilot -- after "who would hire a female pilot, even if you were four times better than a man?" -- and decide maybe she will be a pediactric nurse instead. (God forbid, she think about being an actual PEDIATRICIAN.) Or maybe she will get into space travel by MARRYING a pilot.
On top of all this, there is little that is interesting in a sci fi context -- the ship seems like an ordinary ocean liner, the Venusville setting doesn't seem much different than contemporary Las Vegas.
So what is the point? Just to slam the ambitions of young female readers and point them firmly towards motherhood? Even worse is the treatment of Poddy's parents, who get a firm talking-to, courtesy of Uncle Tom (as mouthpiece for Heinlein himself), letting them know they are awful parents because they allow a 16 year old girl to travel with her brother and uncle and presumably don't keep her at home with a full time mom. Clearly they are the cause of her death (or awful accident)!!! Poddy's mom's wonderful career is built up and then largely made fun of or dismissed.
The whole "ending" controversy is blown out of proportion. So Poddy is either dead...or in a vegative coma. So what? If she wasn't, we'd have to gang up and kill her ourselves.
One of the rare books that really ought to be burnt in your basement incinerator. Not suitable for anyone of any age.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kelly delaney
There is a famous quote by Dorothy Parker that states, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force." I have thrown one book with great force and that book was Podkayne of Mars.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I've enjoyed the interesting plots of other Heinlein novels while willfully ignoring the misogynist ancillary details, but this book is BUILT on ridiculous gender stereotypes culled from the mind of a kind of dirty old man.

I usually slog through to the finish, but not on this one. Go find something else, possibly by someone else (hint: if you're looking for scifi where the plucky female characters end up doing anything but marrying, Heinlein is not for you).
Please RatePodkayne of Mars
More information