Time for the Stars

ISBN: 0765314932
ISBN 13: 9780765314932
By: Robert A. Heinlein

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About this book

This is one of the classic titles originally know as the "Heinlein Juveniles," written in the 1950 and published for the young adult market. It has since been in print for 50 years in paperback, and now returns to hardcover for a new generation. Travel to other planets is a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity to find habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. With no time to wait years for communication between slower-than-light spaceships and home, the Long Range Foundation explores an unlikely solution--human telepathy.Identical twins Tom and Pat are enlisted to be the human radios that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. The only problem is that one of them has to stay behind, and that one will grow old while the other explores the depths of space.Always a master of insight into the human consequences of future technologies, this is one of Heinlein's triumphs.

Reader's Thoughts


A research institute discovers that some twins are able to communicate with telepathy between each other. It's not limited by the speed of light and offers a great chance for space exploration. One twin stays at home and the other is on board of a spaceship to explore new worlds.Characterization has never been Heinlein's strongest point and it shows here again but he is extremely good at writing believable adventure stories. I liked that the protagonist is no hero, he is selfish and still has to learn how to deal with his own problems and with other people. That's a big difference to Heinlein's later books where the protagonists cynically show off their superiority and bypass normal ways because they know the ropes. Not so here! Actions and values are carefully evaluated from different sides. There were some minor things I didn't like. The twins have strange relationships, not the deep emotional bound that I assumed they always have. This allowed some plot twists that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. I also found it strange to tell someone straight into his face that you don't like him. Heinlein touches interesting topics that never grow old. I can recommend this book to every SF fan and especially to young readers. Read Citizen of the Galaxy first and then this one and you will understand why the author is still held in high esteem.

Sean Meriwether

Heinlein’s work typically falls into two age groups: his early fiction is targeted for space-hungry boys and his later work is written for a mature (decidedly male) audience. “Time for the Stars” falls into the first category. The “gee whiz” optimism for space travel will grate on anyone older than 12, but I couldn’t dismiss this book as readily as others he wrote for this age group. Hijacking Einstein’s theory that a person travelling at the speed of light will not age at the same rate of speed as a person who remained on the earth, Heinlein documents the effect on a set of twins, Tom and Pat Bartlett. However, the focus is on the real (and still unsolved) hurdle of communication over interstellar distances. If people were sent hundreds of light years into space, how will they communicate with those back home when the speed of sound is restricted by nature? It would mean waiting years, even decades, to hear the results of the expedition. His solution is telepathy. The science may be bunk, but the question of communication needs to be resolved before anyone is launched on a Star Trek. Kudos for the question but he should go back to the drawing board for another solution to the problem.

David Ivester

**SPOILERS**I have read Time for the Stars probably six times since I was twelve years old. This time I have read it more carefully than I have ever read it before, with a new eye for meanings missed in past readings, and I think I have seen more than I have seen before.The book is Heinlein’s Time for the Stars, a story in which Einstein’s twin paradox plays a role as a major plot point. One issue that immediately presented itself which I of course recognized but never appreciated to a great depth is the fact that the book is a diary book, an account being written by the protagonist at the behest of the ship’s counselor on a star ship seeking habitable worlds beyond the solar system. The psychologist, in trying to help in dealing with the boy’s depression, suggests that he begin a diary of his life from as far back as he cares to go to the present time. As the story proceeds, the diarist relates past events to the point where he actually reaches the present time and begins to relate events from the day or the immediate past. It was this feature of the book in particular that had never impacted me as deeply as it has this time.Further, the boy relates a romantic interlude, a first kiss with a girl, which goes awry. I did not recall, but obviously recognized in previous readings, that the reason the encounter went wrong was attributable to the girl’s twin sister, with whom she is linked telepathically. The sister does not “like” the protagonist, and therefore spoils the tender moment between the protagonist and the girl. Later in the story the boy includes just a line or so that seems to indicate a romantic liaison with a woman older than himself, indicating possibly that he is no longer a virgin, even though he came aboard the starship as a teenager, and had no appreciable life experience beyond the interactions with the other members of the crew. This was a plot point that I had missed entirely in previous readings of this book. It occurs thusly: a female member of the crew comments that she could like but never marry a man who could not best her in the utilization of mathematics, which was her field. This book was one of a series commissioned by Scribners from Heinlein intended for a young adult audience, and is normally termed one of Heinlein’s “juveniles.” In the final count Heinlein wrote a series of twelve novels for this audience, and they are some of my favorite Heinlein novels. And this is my favorite of the group.


It's ok, but it's one of those sci-fi books where you think, this dude knew that women were going to be scientists and stuff but oh my god he still writes them like they're property. How the heck does he even hold both ideas in his head simultaneously???? It blows my mind out my ears.

SciFi Kindle

When one looks past the dated dialogue that identifies this as being authored in 1956, the concepts of time dilation at relativistic speeds has some fantastic possibilities for drama. "Don't look so dang sourpuss," and "Gee, that's swell" are actual lines, but it is almost as if Heinlein anticipates the linguistic drift that would occur in the decades to follow publication when his protagonist, removed from his descendants by decades spent traveling the stars at light speed, encounters difficulties deciphering the euphemisms and vernacular when he speaks to those of the younger generations. The discoveries and marvels encountered on the voyage are really secondary to the human drama of inter-generational strain as lives proceed at two different paces, forcing divided families to adapt.


Enjoyable. Interesting to think about the challenges of space exploration. Liked the telepathy angle to the story, as it created some interesting twists. The last event of the book took my off guard and seemed a cheap way to wrap up the story. Not sure it was necessary at all.


Je connais assez peu l'écriture de Robert A. Heinlein. Je me rappelle ne pas avoir réussi à lire "Stranger in a Strange Land".« L'Âge des étoiles » m'a semblé plus intéressant. En bref, le récit présente l'impact de télépathes - surtout des jumeaux - sur les voyages interstellaires. L'idée de base du roman est intéressante : on prend des couples de jumeaux télépathes, on envoie la moitié des jumeaux dans l'espace et on garde l'autre moitié sur terre. La moitié qui voyage communique les informations à l'autre moitié de manière instantanée, ce que ne peuvent faire les autres moyens de communication.L'intérêt de cette hypothèse réside surtout dans le fait que, de ce que je comprends de la théorie des voyages à la vitesse de la lumière, le temps passerait différemment pour les voyageurs que pour les gens restés sur Terre. Bref, chacune des expéditions lancées à la découverte de planètes habitables pourrait prévenir les terriens sans devoir faire l'aller-retour, et donc faire gagner du temps à tout le temps.Heinlein présente cette idée de manière fort intéressante. On a le goût de connaître la suite.Le défaut majeur de son écriture - ou peut-être de la traduction - est de présenter des personnages ternes, souvent peu attachants. À moins que ne soit dû à la distance temporelle entre l'auteur des années 1950 et ce lecteur de 2013...


I love old science fiction. Especially Heinlein's."Time for the stars" was published in 1956, five before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space in 1961.http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004..."The basic plot line is derived from a 1911 thought experiment in special relativity, commonly called the twin paradox, proposed by French physicist Paul Langevin." - wikipediaThe twin paradox is where one twin goes on a journey in a fast rocket and then returns home to find the other twin has aged more. This theory has been proven - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_pa... for more info.I don't agree with wikipedia about the twin paradox being the basic plot line. The twin paradox is an important part of the plot, but there is so much more. Tom and Pat are in their teens in a future earth where overpopulation has become so bad that families are taxed for having more than 2 children. They are recruited into a study on twins and discover that what they thought was just whispering to each other was actually telepathy. The purpose of the study is to find people who can communicate telepathically so that one can go on a long space voyage and the other stay on earth and have instant communication possible in spite of the speed of light limits and law of inverse squares that limit normal radio signalsThe purpose of the journey is to discover other earth like planets that humans can live on.So while the twin in space spends a few months on a 'torch ship' (nuclear powered rocket that constantly accelerates up to just under the speed of light and then spins around and decelerates until it stops near the target star to search for habitable planets) the twin at home spends years growing older.Pat is the slightly more assertive twin, and Tom (who is narrator - the whole book is his journal) feels that Pat always gets the better part of everything in life. (view spoiler)[Pat is the twin who gets to go into space - until at the last minute he has a skiing accident and Tom goes in his place. (hide spoiler)]This book is easy to read - you don't have to know the math or physics behind it. It is also fun to read. Highly recommended.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Mary JL

The review above pretty much says it all. This books has been reprinted time and time again for over fifty years. It is one of Heinlein's better juveniles.I recommend Heinlein's "juveniles" for every sf reader--I personally feel they represent some of his best work. They can be read and enjoyed by adults; except for the age of the main characters, this books is as good as many adult novels published today.

Sara Elice

** spoiler alert ** This was a much more satisfying Heinlein book than Stranger in a Strange Land. Part of it is that it's a bit shorter and the pace is very quick. A lot goes on in a short book. But where Stranger jumped around a lot, the narrative in this book is very clear. There are temporal jumps, but everything is logical; you understand what's going on before reading several pages for the reveal of who we're actually hearing about and where we are.Even the ending was pretty good. I like the ideas behind progress and doing something not because it's the ultimate way something will be done, but because it is worth doing to see what can be done.I found it a bit weird that Tom plans to marry his great, great-niece, who genetically is actually his great-grandaughter. I like the idea of the love behind the intense connection they share, but it's sort of weird to think about.


The basic reason for writing this book seems to have been to introduce the idea of a 'long range foundation', which ignores the short term, and pumps resources into things that (probably) won't show results for decades or centuries. An interesting idea, but there don't seem to have been any takers. The premise of the telepathic twins is interesting, but it's basically a McGuffin to allow Heinlein to send a juvenile (several, really) on a starfaring mission, Really, however, the mission is not really described. The relations of people on board ship and their homebound partners becomes more important--the planets examined are mostly unmemorable. One interesting point is the question of whether you must necessarily love those you're related to. You must, of course, at least as long as you're coresident. If you didn't love them, there'd be a lot higher incidence of fratricide--and intrafamilial violence is already at too high a level. But that needn't mean you have to like them. Or keep a relationship with them once you're separated at adulthood. In this case, the telepairs MUST keep a relationship after separation, for the purpose of maintaining communication between their comrades (though exceptions develop later, as the communication network is broadened). This creates a conflict that's not easily resolved. The solution is unpracticed and clumsy--but it would have to be in an unprecendented situation, wouldn't it? The atemporal aspect of telephathy (as proposed here) is somewhat similar to LeGuin's 'ansible' except that it inheres in people rather than devices. The argument is that since telepathy is virtually instantaneous, this implies that faster-light-travel is possible. It doesn't necessarily follow, but it's not clear whether Heinlein knew enough physics to recognize this. Early in the book, a physicist is quoted as if he did not know that a light-year is a unit of distance, not time. Heinlein had a tendency to give himself airs, and to mock such pretensions in others. It's an interesting psychological observation that people tend to accuse others of what they believe to be true about themselves. Of course, they may be mistaken about themselves, but it's a form of self-revelation that could cause some people to be reluctant to make accusations, lest they inadvertently reveal rather more about their own fears than they're willing to.

Steven Brandt

Many science fiction writers have done stories involving space travel at near-light speeds, and/or human colonies on far distant planets. One of the common themes that goes along with stories of this nature, is the problem of communication between colonies and the home planet. As sci-fi fans know, this presents a problem because regular radio transmissions would take years to travel the vast emptiness of space. Different science fiction writers have come up with some different ways to overcome the difficulty, usually involving some very complicated scientific theories.Robert Heinlein on the other hand came up with a very simple solution. Good old-fashioned telepathy! In Time For The Stars , scientists have discovered that some humans have telepathic abilities, especially and mostly where twins are concerned. Through a lot of testing, they also learned that telepaths communicate with each other at more than light speed, providing nearly instantaneous communication between any two points, no matter how far apart they are. Of course, the obvious drawback is that the twins have to be split up, one on Earth one on a distant colony. Sci-fi fans will also realize that the twin traveling through space will age much more slowly than the one left on Earth. So, while the twins are in constant communication with each other, the one on Earth is getting older very rapidly, while the one traveling through space doesn’t seem to age at all. I wonder what kinds of psychological problems that might cause?Robert Heinlein’s novels are always classified as science fiction, but the sci-fi is usually just a platform for his commentary, whether political, religious, or social. Time for the Stars , on the other hand, is science fiction of the purest form. Interstellar travel, exploring new planets, encountering alien life; this is old school sci-fi and I loved every minute of it.Barrett Whitener did an okay job with the narration of Time for the Stars , but it was nothing special I’m afraid. It seemed like he struggled a little with foreign dialects, although there were only a couple of them in this audiobook so it wasn’t a fatal flaw.Steven Brandt @ Audiobook-Heaven


6.5 hoursnarrated by Barrett WhitenerRobert A. Heinlein’s Time for the Stars is a true bit of science fiction history and, in a way, embodies all of the “cool” stuff that made me such a fan – a bit of physics, adventure, young people off to explore unseen worlds, and some newfangled technology.Heinlein (1907-1988) first published Time for the Stars in 1956, during a time period when he had a contract with Scribner’s to produce books that were young people friendly. They were aimed at young adults, although I enjoyed it as well. It is the memoir of the space travels of Tom Bartlett, who is also one half of a very talented set of twins.The premise of the book is simple enough. The Earth is too crowded and a research corporation called the Long Range Foundation has invested in several ships to seek out new planets that humans can inhabit. There are already colonies throughout the solar system but they are too expensive and can only hold a limited number of colonists. The Long Range Foundation’s specialty is making investments in things that no corporation or government will invest in because the pay-off will be too long in coming to justify the investment. In this case, these spaceships will explore for decades and may not find anything useful.The trick with all of these ships will be communication. The ships and their radio waves will travel slower than the speed of light and the process of finding a new planet, describing its location and the requirements to colonize it will take entirely too long. Instead, the Long Range Foundation has found that some very few people, especially twins, are actually telepathic and can be trained to speak to one another with their minds. They have also discovered that this telepathy is instantaneous – it is faster than the speed of light and the communication problem has been solved.Pat and Tom Bartlett have this telepathic ability and are chosen to participate. One twin gets to go and one has to stay behind to relay the messages to the Long Range Foundation here on Earth...Read more at: http://dwdsreviews.blogspot.com/2011/...

Fantasy Literature

Time for the Stars is one of my favorite Heinlein Juveniles, and I like his juveniles better than his books for adults, so I guess that makes Time of the Stars one of my favorite Heinlein works. It’s got everything that makes his stories so much fun to read, especially for kids. Likeable heroes, sweet relationships, real emotions, a touch of romance, a bit of physics, spaceship travel and exploration of distant planets. (And also, as usual, there’s a hint of incest — romance with a cousin — and a few complaints about taxes. It is a Heinlein novel, after all.)In Time for the Stars, twins Tom and Pat join an experimental scientific study to see if telepathy might be a viable way for Earth to communicate with her exploring spaceships. It’s thought that if telepathy could work for anyone, it would be identical twins. Tom and Pat are excited to be ... Read More:http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

Fred D

This was THE book that introduced me when I was young to the concept of Time Dilation, first discovered by Albert Einstein in his Theory of Relativity. That is, as an object accelerates to near-light speeds, time slows down in relation to other objects in the universe. Heinlein explored what the consequences of this would be for human relationships in the future when humanity starts engaging in interstellar travel. Tom & Pat were identical twins, and one stayed behind on Earth while the other explored the galaxy in a starship. When the ship returned to Earth, 80 years had passed on Earth for one twin but only 4 years had passed for the star traveling twin. Two brothers who had grown up together were now separated in age by 76 years. One was close to the end of his life and the other was still young. The whole idea horrified me when I read this when I was young. I figured there had to be a better way for our descendants to explore the stars without such horrendous side-effects. Another good series of sci-fi books that dwelt extensively on this topic was Orson Scott Card's Ender Series.

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