18 August 2005

Farmer in the Sky

I read a lot of science fiction when I was younger. A lot! It has been interesting reading/listening to some of these stories again. Farmer in the Sky is another Robert A Heinlein story written in the 1950's. Bill is an only child living with his father, still grieving over his mother's death a few years earlier. They live in California in an overpopulated world where food is rationed based on calorie counts. People must keep receipts to match their calorie allotment each month.
Bill and his father emigrate to Ganymede to take up farming and Bill grows up and becomes more mature as the book develops.
I have always remembered one scene where Bill is given an envelope containing 8 apple seeds as if it was worth a fortune. On a planet where trees were extremely rare and tree fruit rarer still it struck me what we take for granted.
Once more Heinlein's view of the future includes slide rules and advanced atomic power and space flight. His worries about overpopultaion were incorrect. Since the 1950's, the calories per person in every country has actually increased. The current threat facing us is actually under population with the majority of countries - even third world countries - having children below replacement level. It just goes to show that one can never tell what the future may bring.
This is another fine tale enjoyed by all our family. It leads to interesting discussions about the world around us and personal relationships. This version was also well read.

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