Red Planet

Red Planet

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“The most thrilling and tingling kind of science fiction story.”─ Kirkus Reviews

“Heinlein found his true direction…. The Martian setting is logically constructed and rich in convincing detail [while] the characters are engaging and the action develops naturally.” ─Jack Williamson

Marking the first appearance of the Martian elder race that plays such a prominent role in Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein’s iconic Red Planet tells the story of Jim Marlowe and Frank Sutton’s journey to the Lowe Academy boarding school on Mars, and the discoveries they make there that impact the future of their entire colony.

While on their way, along with Jim’s volleyball-sized native pet, Willis the Bouncer, the boys wander into the ‘forbidden’ territory where they meet a native Martian, Gekko. The Martian, who is oddly protective of Willis, becomes a “water friend” to the young boys and exposes them to the true wonders of the planet.

Once enrolled at the school, Jim and Frank rescue Willis from the authoritarian headmaster who had confiscated the “pet”, Willis, and discover the colonial administrator’s plans for Mars, which threatens the very survival of the colony in its present form. Jim and Frank run away from the school. Can they warn the colony in time to save it from the administrator’s nefarious plans?

Red Planet is Robert A. Heinlein at his best, with an exciting adventure story, colorful characters and exquisite aliens. The original ending had been changed by the first publishers of this book. This edition contains the true ending of the story, as Heinlein had intended it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934180518
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Publication date: 10/01/2008
Edition description: 1
Product dimensions: 5.13(w) x 5.88(h) x (d)

About the Author

Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) took a variety of jobs before beginning to write science fiction in 1939. He became the dominant science fiction writer of the modern era, a writer whose influence on the field was immense. He won science fiction's Hugo Award for best novel seven times, and several of his books were New York Times bestsellers. In 1975 he received the first Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement.

Zach Villa is a stage, film, and television performer. Classically trained in acting, Villa's audiobook work includes The World without You by Joshua Henkin and Butterfly Winter by W. P. Kinsella.

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1907

Date of Death:

May 8, 1988

Place of Birth:

Butler, Missouri

Place of Death:

Carmel, California


Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy, 1929; attended University of California, Los Angeles, 1934, for graduate study in physic

Read an Excerpt

Red Planet

Chapter One


The thin air of Mars was chill but not really cold. It was not yet winter in southern latitudes and the daytime temperature was usually above freezing.

The queer creature standing outside the door of a dome-shaped building was generally manlike in appearance, but no human being ever had a head like that. A thing like a coxcomb jutted out above the skull, the eye lenses were wide and staring, and the front of the face stuck out in a snout. The unearthly appearance was increased by a pattern of black and yellow tiger stripes covering the entire head.

The creature was armed with a pistol-type hand weapon slung at its belt and was carrying, crooked in its right arm, a ball, larger than a basketball, smaller than a medicine ball. It moved the ball to its left arm, opened the outer door of the building and stepped inside.

Inside was a very small anteroom and an inner door. As soon as the outer door was closed the air pressure in the anteroom began to rise, accompanied by a soft sighing sound. A loudspeaker over the inner door shouted in a booming bass, "Well? Who is it? Speak up! Speak up!"

The visitor placed the ball carefully on the floor, then with both hands grasped its ugly face and pushed and lifted it to the top of its head. Underneath was disclosed the face of an Earth-human boy. "It's Jim Marlowe, Doc," he answered.

"Well, come in. Come in! Don't stand out therechewing your nails."

"Coming." When the air pressure in the anteroom had equalized with the pressure in the rest of the house the inner door opened automatically. Jim said, "Come along, Willis," and went on in.

The ball developed three spaced bumps on its lower side and followed after him, in a gait which combined spinning, walking, and rolling. More correctly, it careened, like a barrel being manhandled along a dock. They went down a passage and entered a large room that occupied half the floorspace of the circular house plan. Doctor MacRae looked up but did not get up. "Howdy, Jim. Skin yourself. Coffee on the bench. Howdy, Willis," he added and turned back to his work. He was dressing the hand of a boy about Jim's age.

"Thanks, Doc. Oh--hello, Francis. What are you doing here?"

"Hi, Jim. I killed a water-seeker, then I cut my thumb on one of its spines."

"Quit squirming!" commanded the doctor.

"That stuff stings," protested Francis.

"I meant it to. Shut up."

"How in the world did you do that?" persisted Jim. "You ought to know better than to touch one of those things. Just burn 'em down and burn 'em up." He zipped open the front of his outdoor costume, peeled it off his arms and legs and hung it on a rack near the door. The rack held Francis's suit, the headpiece of which was painted in bright colors like an Indian brave's war paint, and the doctor's suit, the mask of which was plain. Jim was now stylishly and appropriately dressed for indoors on Mars--bare naked save for bright red jockey shorts.

"I did burn it," explained Francis, "but it moved when I touched it. I wanted to get the tail to make a necklace."

"Then you didn't burn it right. Probably left it full of live eggs. Who're you making a necklace for?"

"None of your business. And I did so burn the egg sac. What do you take me for? A tourist?"

"Sometimes I wonder. You know those things don't die until sundown."

"Don't talk nonsense, Jim," the doctor advised. "Now, Frank, I'm going to give you an anti-toxin shot. 'Twon't do you any good but it'll make your mother happy. Long about tomorrow your thumb will swell up like a poisoned pup; bring it back and I'll lance it."

"Am I going to lose my thumb?" the boy asked.

"Nope. But you'll do your scratching with your left hand for a few days. Now, Jim, what brings you here? Bellyache?"

"No, Doc. It's Willis."

"Willis, eh? He looks pert enough to me." The doctor stared down at the creature. Willis was at his feet, having come up to watch the dressing of Frank's thumb. To do so he had protruded three eye stalks from the top of his spherical mass. The stalks stuck up like thumbs, in an equal-sided triangle, and from each popped a disturbingly human eye. The little fellow turned around slowly on his tripod of bumps, or pseudopeds, and gave each of his eyes a chance to examine the doctor.

"Get me a cup of Java, Jim," commanded the doctor, then leaned over and made a cradle of his hands. "Here, Willis--upsi-daisy!" Willis gave a little bounce and landed in the doctor's hands, withdrawing all protuberances as he did so. The doctor lifted him to the examining table; Willis promptly stuck out legs and eyes again. They stared at each other.

The doctor saw a ball covered with thick, close-cropped fur, like sheared sheepskin, and featureless at the moment save for supports and eye stalks. The Mars creature saw an elderly male Earthman almost completely covered with wiry grey-and-white hair. The hair was thin on top, thick on chin and cheeks, moderately thick to sparse on chest and arms and back and legs. The middle portion of this strange unMartian creature was concealed in snow-white shorts. Willis enjoyed looking at him.

"How do you feel, Willis?" inquired the doctor. "Feel good? Feel bad?"

A dimple showed at the very crown of the ball between the stalks, dilated to an opening. "Willis fine!" he said. His voice was remarkably like Jim's.

"Fine, eh?" Without looking around the doctor added, "Jim! Wash those cups again. And this time, sterilize them. Want everybody around here to come down with the pip?"

"Okay, Doc," Jim acknowledged, and added to Francis, "You want some coffee, too?"

"Sure. Weak, with plenty of cow."

"Don't be fussy." Jim dipped into the laboratory sink and managed to snag another cup. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. Nearby a large flask of coffee simmered over a Bunsen burner. Jim washed three cups carefully, put them through the sterilizer, then filled them.

Doctor MacRae accepted a cup and said, "Jim, this citizen says he's okay. What's the trouble?"

"I know he says he's all right, Doc, but he's not. Can't you examine him and find out?"

"Examine him? How, boy? I can't even take his temperature because I don't know what his temperature ought to be. I know as much about his body chemistry as a pig knows about patty-cake. Want me to cut him open and see what makes him tick?"

Willis promptly withdrew all projections and became as featureless as a billiard ball. "Now you've scared him," Jim said accusingly.

"Sorry." The doctor reached out and commenced scratching and tickling the furry ball. "Good Willis, nice Willis. Nobody's going to hurt Willis. Come on, boy, come out of your hole."

Willis barely dilated the sphincter over his speaking diaphragm. "Not hurt Willis?" he said anxiously in Jim's voice.

"Not hurt Willis. Promise."

"Not cut Willis?"

"Not cut Willis. Not a bit."

The eyes poked out slowly. Somehow he managed an expression of watchful caution, though he had nothing resembling a face. "That's better," said the doctor. "Let's get to the point, Jim. What makes you think there's something wrong with this fellow, when he and I can't see it?"

"Well, Doc, it's the way he behaves. He's all right indoors, but outdoors--He used to follow me everywhere, bouncing around the landscape, poking his nose into everything."

"He hasn't got a nose," Francis commented.

"Go to the head of the class. But now, when I take him out, he just goes into a ball and I can't get a thing out of him. If he's not sick, why does he act that way?"

"I begin to get a glimmering," Doctor MacRae answered. "How long have you been teamed up with this balloon?"

Jim thought back over the twenty-four months of the Martian year. "Since along toward the end of Zeus, nearly November."

"And now here it is the last of March, almost Ceres, and the summer gone. That suggest anything to your mind?"

"Uh, no."

"You expect him to go hopping around through the snow? We migrate when it gets cold; he lives here."

Jim's mouth dropped open. "You mean he's trying to hibernate?"

"What else? Willis's ancestors have had a good many millions of years to get used to the seasons around here; you can't expect him to ignore them."

Jim looked worried. "I had planned to take him with me to Syrtis Minor."

"Syrtis Minor? Oh, yes, you go away to school this year, don't you? You, too, Frank."

"You bet!"

"I can't get used to the way you kids grow up. It was just last week I was painting your thumb to keep you from sucking it."

"I never sucked my thumb!" Francis answered.

"No? Then it was some other kid. Never mind. I came to Mars so that the years would be twice as long, but it doesn't seem to make any difference."

"Say, Doc, how old are you?" inquired Francis.

"Mind your own business. Which one of you is going to study medicine and come back to help me with my practice?"

Neither one answered. "Speak up, speak up!" urged the doctor. "What are you going to study?"

Excerpted from Red Planet
by Robert A. Heinlein Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Willis2. South Colony, Mars3. Gekko4. Lowell Academy5. Little Pitchers Have Big Ears6. Flight7. Pursued8. The Other World9. Politics10. "We're Boxed In!"11. Besieged12. "Don't Shoot!"13. "It's an Ultimatum"14. Willis

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Red Planet 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Sioux7 More than 1 year ago
One of Heinlein's juvenile stories, I read it as an adult and was completely captivated. Great story telling. We need more Heinlein eBooks!!!
Feldercarb More than 1 year ago
I read this story in junior high school and loved it. It has been over fifty years since I read it and I must say I enjoyed it even more this time! I liked the cover of the first edition because it showed the two main characters and "Willis" seeking shelter inside a large martian plant! That image stayed with me. This new cover is confusing and cluttered! Red PLanet is early work by Heilein and his writing style is crisp and clear and the conversations down to earth. His descriptions of mars and the various earther colonies are brillant, and by using the imaginary canals on the planet, he solved the transportation problem quite easily. This is pure fantasy, based on great scienctific facts known in the 1940's and 1950's, and is a most enjoyable read. I would encourage young people to read it and to lose themselves in the joys of pure imagination! A great book!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a wonderfully written book. It was very good and I read it within two days, reason being I couldn't put it down. It was a very exciting book with a great plot. If you like science fiction novels you'll love this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
General Heinlein: Tom Clancy, David Webber, and Stephen King all credit Heinlein as thier mentor. More need not be said about the three decade all time Sci-Fi Grand Master, but this. If you haven't read Heinlein, you haven't yet lived. First Sci-Fi to Movie, perennial Best Seller (30 Million in print ten years ago!) Never off the shelves in even the poorestly sci-fi stocked book store, you can't go wrong! This adventure is about a youth being raised on Mars (As best Science knew it then -- RAH's science and engineering is ALWAYS right!) and is a rollickin good adventure tale of a few school mates discover a plot that threaten the colonist's welfare and face multiple dangers heading it off. Then again there are the Martians. Enjoy -- I haven't re-read in years, but I envy you the first experience!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A real adventure book. Great for boys. There are the frozen canals, Willis, Jim-Boy, the Colonial Government, and the Martians appear! As someone said, Robert A. Heinlein is always right.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Join Jim on the first Colony of Mars. When Jim finds a strange alien lifeform and decides to keep it his life goes haywire. He finds out information that puts his family in danger and must trek across the Planet surface. definatley keeps your intrest and intruges your imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I started reading RAH at age 7. What a wonderful influence for young minds. RAH’s stories taught me to think “out of the box” and solve problems. Much like Wiley Coyote, (who never gives up), I have enjoyed an indomitable spirit because all of the RAH protagonists demonstrate this trait. I attribute my success of enjoying life to science fiction stories such as RED PLANET. Thank you Mr. Heinlein. bingaux
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Teenage-level story where RAH explores and preliminarily develops many of the concepts of what the native Martian society will look like.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don’t buy this. It consists only of chapter heading. Most disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great fun book
endersreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ohh, Willis! How little we know about you and your fellow Martians! I read this story through in one sitting. It's that good. The only hint at Heinlein's future explosive perversity in the book are the two clergymen that share a house. His readers will find the allusion entertaining. The characters are beautifully and simply woven. The antiquarians will find the boys manner of speaking quite retronique. Doc MacRae is my favorite character; and I believe Heinlein has shown the most of himself in this character. Solipsism is a beautiful philosophy. You will find Doc's hatred of "progression" to be most eloquently stated. The story is about 2 boys who hail from a Martian colony--the head of which is one of them's father. Bureaucratic Earth is struggling for control over these untamed revolutionaries who have taken a "manifest destiny" approach to Mars. Think of them as the blaster wielding Libertarians of the future. They share the mostly unexplored-as-of-yet Mars with various native creatures--the most interesting being the mysterious giant tripodal Martians who dwell deep within their ancient and emptied cities, and strange fluff-ball creatures called "bouncers". By the end of the book Heinlein has shown us an extrordinary alien civilization, an emancipated Human-Martian colony, and the fall of the corrupt incestual elite powers of Earth. Inbetween is a grand adventure.
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Heinlein's early YA books, it's about 2 young boys who wind up on an adventure on Mars. This is a Mars with water (frozen) in its canals, oxygen, but not enough for a human to breath unassisted. So if you like your SF with the latest science in place, this isn't for you. Heinlien's young heroes are boy scouts, good kids with good intentions who buck the odds to do the right thing. They make discoveries beyond what the adults have done & face danger. They tough it out & make good, though. Happy ending! I'd recommend it for any adult, but also for any young boy, maybe 3d grade reading level & up. (I'm probably wrong about 3d grade, get another opinion.) The language & ideas are pretty simple, but equally engaging for young & old. There is a moral to the story; be brave, resourceful and - damn the consequences - do the RIGHT thing. I've seen worse messages in books, this one is pretty typical of all his YA books.
RBeffa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
short review: A really fun Heinlein "juvenile" first published in 1949. I would call this a "boy's adventure story" of it's time. Jim Marlowe is a young martian colonist who has developed a close relationship with a native martian creature that he calls "Willis". Willis is a kick and is more than a pet. Willis and Jim have a close bond that proves to be especially important as the novel progresses and finishes. I really enjoyed this golden oldie and can recommend it without hesitation. The story does show it's age in quite a few ways, esp the tech, but it didn't detract from what to me was a fun adventure and a good story about colonists and society, power and rebellion. The martian society was good in an old fashioned way.
Meggo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is another typical early Heinlein - full of plucky youngsters fighting against the odds and making unlikely friends. In this case, the bad guys are evil Company henchmen who want to steal the plucky lad's friend, a Martian "bouncer" and prevent colonists from migrating with the seasons to avoid the bitter Martian winter. This book would have read a lot better before we received detailed footage from the Mars rover that conclusively proved there were no 'canals' or free standing water on Mars. Still, it was an enjoyable read for a Heinlein fan, gross factual impossibilities notwithstanding. After all, science fiction is not about truth, is it?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This edition is much better than the first one. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this in Middle School, and have found that I've enjoyed this more than I did bck then.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just great, concepts entirely unique, especially considering the state of sci-fi at the time period.
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