The last book I re-read was accidental. Re-reading Robert Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy was intentional. My enjoyment of it this time was probably greater than the first time. I don’t remember liking it that much when I read it back during college, but I really enjoyed this one.
Citizen of the Galaxy is the story of Thorby, a young slave purchased by a beggar on some far off planet because no one else would bid on him. The beggar, Baslim, takes Thorby in and treats him like his son. He teaches him the lowly job of “begging,” (an official job on their world) and of doing so with integrity. One thing Thorby comes to learn is that Baslim has a mad hatred for slavery. It’s his life’s passion and work to destroy it.
As Thorby grows, Baslim teaches him foreign languages and other really cool non-traditional-beggar stuff. He also gives him specific instructions on what to do if anything should ever happen to him.
Of course, something does happen to him and suddenly Thorby is off to space. He ultimately learns Baslim was a high ranking officer in Earth’s military and thought he knew Thorby’s lineage. >Spoiler < Turns out, he did, and Thorby is actually the kidnapped son of a rich family from Earth. Thorby, equally hates slavery and sets out to use his newfound riches and power to put an end to it. And that’s where the book ends.
CotG is a whirlwind adventure from the seedy underbelly of the homeless, to a commune-style community of space-faring traders, to the ritzy life of the affluent on earth. Thorby’s frustration is that many on earth refuse to believe slavery is an issue, even though he clearly was one for several years.
Heinlein’s writing, like always, is easy to read and takes you fully into the world around Thorby. And while my old creative writing college professor might call it genre fiction, I liked it better than most of the li-fi I’ve read. It is what it is.
My final note is on the cover. I often don’t scan the covers of the stuff I’ve read—it’s so easy to find it elsewhere and of the same version that I read. But I can’t find the cover to the version I own…and it’s just a paperback, so I don’t think it’s that valuable…it was just odd.
If you’ve got this one sitting on your shelf, pick it up again and read it. It’s fast. It’s fun.