Sunday, April 10, 2005

Science Fiction - "Tunnel in the Sky"

"Tunnel In The Sky, by Robert Heinhlein, is the April book for my SF book discussion group. It's a fairly short book (about 200 pages), about a survival test given to senior high school students. But this is not a typical survival test, the subjects are transported via "tunnels" which connect Earth to other planets, to an unsettled planet, where they need to survive for a week.

The reason that such tests are needed, is that in this universe humans have been colonizing other worlds - via the "tunnels in the sky" - and the test is there to prepare the students for future work. As it turns out the tunnels are very expensive to operate, so in most cases when colonists are dropped on some world they must be able to fend for themselves for quite a while, before the next bunch of materials can be sent from Earth.

The main character in this story is a fellow named, Rod Walker. He has an older sister, who is now in the millitary, but who went through a similar test. I liked the way she advised him to bring only knives as weapons, because having a gun would make him less careful.

Rod and his classmates are dropped on a planet, resembling african savanna, with the requisite predators. Rod survives the first week, but then an odd thing happens. No tunnel opens and he is stuck on the far away planet.

The main part of the story has to do with how he and the other people abandoned on an uncivilized planet survive. It's an interesting story, seeing how just knowledge of advance technology can help, even when you don't have the actual tools.

Although I haven't read "The Lord Of the Flies", this story seems to have a similar feel.

I enjoyed reading this book - it was quick and entertaining. It would make good summer reading, when you don't want to concentrate too hard.


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