A true classic from RAH, written as a "juvenile" book but is a good read for anyone.
f it hadn't been for the overarching moral I would have given this book four stars. Wonderful notions such as "gender is rather a matter of opinion, wouldn't you say?" and "I had never guessed that anyone could despise other persons simply over their ancestry or where they lived," and Heinlein's fantastic imagination combine for a pretty fun story. As it stands though, I would never actually encourage anyone to read this book. Oh, Heinlein, why must you disappoint me so?
**********SPOILER WARNING************************ Spoilers beyond this point!******************
Podkayne wants to be a star pilot. Her mother is a system-class, award-winning mechanical engineer, so she's got a good strong female role model. Great beginning! However, Podkayne then spends most of the book looking after babies and having repeated revelations that perhaps being a mother would be a better use of her time and skills. In fact, she nearly gets killed trying to save an alien baby whose mother her brother justly slew.
Additionally, Podkayne must be rescued out of every situation by her younger brother because she, the girl, is "not logical enough," she "deliberately manipulates" all the men around her by using her "distressed kitten face," and must be given lessons in the proper application of makeup (which lesson takes up half a chapter). Each of these are enough to peg Heinlein for the stupid chauvinist he apparently was, but the most telling quote of all comes at the end when Podkayne's uncle, who up until this point had been encouraging the girl in her ambitions, says to her father "You should tell your wife, sir, that building bridges and space stations and such gadgets is all very well, but a woman has more important work to do." Asshole.
Heinlein's Path to A Perfect World is simply this: all boys should join the military and prove their manhood on the battlefield, all girls should grow up to raise children, and under no circumstances should any adult condone sexual exclusivity.
That said, I do agree with the sentiment that "people who will not take the trouble to raise children should not have them." Unlike Heinlein, however, I think that the trouble of raising children should be undertaken by two adults rather than solely the biological mother.
More and more I understand why Heinlein is not often remembered fondly.
Juvenile fiction by Robert A. Heinlein, "the father of science fiction". This is the story of a teenage girl who is plagued by her genius little brother. Quite amusing.