New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1948. First edition. Hardcover. This is the first edition of the author’s second novel, a superior copy approaching near fine condition in a near fine dust jacket. The dark blue cloth binding, illustrated in light blue on the front cover and printed in light blue on the spine, is square, tight, and clean. Light wear is confined to the spine ends and corners, with just a hint of fraying at the spine ends. First printing is confirmed by the Scribner’s “A” on the copyright page. The contents remain respectably bright with no spotting or previous ownership marks. The page edges, including the untrimmed fore edge, are likewise clean apart from the slightest toning to the top edge.
The illustrated dust jacket is a particularly bright example, clean, bright, and complete. The original $2.50 front flap price is intact, confirming the first printing status of the dust jacket. The yellow printed rocket illustration that wraps from the front cover to the spine shows no dulling or toning. Light wear is confined to the spine ends, rear hinge, and rear flap fold. The dust jacket is protected with a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Space Cadet, published by Scribner's in 1948, is Heinlein's second novel in his “Juveniles” series spanning the late 1940s to late 1950s. The main character, Matt Dobson, joins the Space Patrol, charged with preserving peace in the Solar System. Through a series of adventures in the Asteroid Belt and on Venus, Dobson transitions from a boy into a man. The story was influenced by Heinlein's own experience at the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1920s (right down to the space cadets’ “oyster-white uniforms”). Today, tales of space adventures are part of the cultural mainstream.
To put Heinlein’s work in the context, when he sought to publish his first novel, Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), featuring teenagers who participate in a pioneering flight to the moon, the book was allegedly initially rejected because going to the moon was “too far out”. Heinlein’s second novel helped bring space travel into radios, televisions, and comics, by inspiring the "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" media empire of the 1950s. Space Cadet also cemented the niche Heinlein would successfully occupy as an author of what we now call “young adult” science fiction. Heinlein’s so-called “Juveniles” ran to a dozen novels published before 1959, when Heinlein’s Starship Troopers created a literary line of demarcation for Heinlein, which saw him more infuse his work with more complex and controversial cultural, political, and philosophical perspectives. Intriguingly, Space Cadet and Starship Troopers share a kinship, both based on the premise of an elite force culled from humanity’s best entrusted with protecting human civilization.
Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988) was one of the “Big Three” of American science fiction writers, along with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. A prolific writer with a career spanning half a century, Heinlein published more than 30 novels, along with numerous short stories and collections. When Space Cadet was published, another four decades of writing lay ahead of Heinlein, including the bulk of his work, and the accompanying recognition. Heinlein would go on to win the Hugo Award for best novel four times - for Double Star in 1956, Starship Troopers in 1959, Stranger in a Strange Land in 1961, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in 1966.
Heinlein was lauded not just for individual stories, but also for weaving a coherent and often thought-provoking speculative future; Heinlein’s “Future History” series was nominated for a Best All-Time Series Hugo Award in a very strong field in 1966, losing (along with fellow nominee The Lord of the Rings) to Asimov’s Foundation series. The title of this second novel by Heinlein would ultimately become a household word and entering the cultural lexicon, albeit evolving in meaning over time. Item #003800