Podkayne of Mars [Robert A. Heinlein] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. A delight. – New York Herald Tribune A tale beloved by many fans. That represents a typical passage in Podkayne of Mars; rather than opt for a plain transmission of information, Heinlein injects life into his prose. ‘s Podkayne of Mars was, if Heinlein’s comments in Grumbles from the Grave March 10, Robert A. Heinlein to Lurton Blassingame.

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Podkayne of Mars is a science fiction novel by American writer Robert A. Heinleinoriginally serialised in Worlds of If NovemberJanuary, Marchand published in hardcover in The novel is about a teenage girl named Podkayne “Poddy” Fries and her asocial younger genius brother, Clark, who leave their home on Mars to take a trip on a spaceliner to visit Earthaccompanied by their uncle.

The book is a first-person narrative consisting of the diary of Podkayne Fries, a 15 year old Earth years girl living on Mars with her parents and year-old brother Clark.

Podkayne of Mars – Wikipedia

Due to the unscheduled “uncorking” birth of their three test-tube babiesPodkayne’s parents cancel a much-anticipated trip to Earth. Disappointed, Podkayne confesses her misery to her uncle, Senator Tom Fries, an elder statesman of the Mars government.

Tom arranges for Clark and Podkayne, escorted by himself, to get upgraded passage on a luxury liner to Earth. During boarding, Clark is asked by a customs official “Anything to declare? This ploy serves to divert attention away from Podkayne’s luggage, where he has hidden a package he was paid to smuggle aboard. Podkayne suspects the reason behind her brother’s behavior, but cannot prove it.

Clark was told it was a present for the captain, but is far too cynical to be taken in. He later carefully opens the package and finds a nuclear mmars, which he disarms and keeps.

Podkayne of Mars

Much povkayne the description of the voyage is based on Heinlein’s own experiences as a naval officer and world traveler. Clark’s ploy is taken from a real-life incident, related in Heinlein’s Tramp Royalein which his wife answers the same question with “heroin” substituted for the fictitious, but equally illegal, happy dust. Once aboard, they are befriended by “Girdie”, an attractive, capable, experienced woman left impoverished by her late husband.

Much to Podkayne’s surprise, the normally very self-centered Clark ehinlein a severe case of puppy love. The liner makes a stop at Venuswhich is depicted as a latter-day Las Vegas gone ultra-capitalistic.


The planet is controlled by a single corporation; the dream of most of the frantically enterprising residents is to earn enough to buy a single share in it, which guarantees lifelong financial security. Just about anything goes, as long as one can pay podkyne it. The penalty for murder is a fine paid to the corporation for the victim’s estimated value plus his projected future earnings. On a less serious level, Heinlein anticipated, by over forty years, television ads in taxicabs in the book, holographicwhich have since been implemented in taxicabs in major cities worldwide.

She begins to realize that Tom is much more than just her pinochle-playing uncle.

When Clark vanishes and even the corporation is unable to find him, Tom reveals that he is on a secret diplomatic mission, as the heinlejn representative of the Martian government to a vital conference on Luna the Moon.

The children have been his protective coloration—Tom appearing to be a doddering uncle escorting two young people on a tour of the solar system.

Podkayne of Mars: Heinlein gives us a smart feministic mixed-race heroine

Clark has been kidnapped by members of a political faction opposed to Tom. Podkayne makes an ill-judged attempt to rescue Clark by herself and falls into the kidnappers’ clutches as well—only to find her uncle caught too.

The captors’ scheme is to use the children to blackmail the uncle into doing their bidding at the Luna conference. Clark quickly realizes that once Uncle Tom is released, no matter what happens, their kidnappers will have little reason to keep their prisoners alive.

He is prepared, however: In Heinlein’s original ending, Podkayne is killed. This did not please his publisher, who demanded and got a rewrite over the author’s bitter objections. In a letter to Lurton Blassingamehis literary agentHeinlein complained that it would be like “revising Romeo and Juliet to let the young lovers live happily ever after. In the original ending, after they escape from the kidnappers to a safe distance, Podkayne remembers that a semi-intelligent Venerian “fairy” baby has been left behind, and returns to rescue it.

When the bomb that Clark leaves for the kidnappers blows up, Podkayne is killed, shielding the young fairy with her body. Clark takes over the narrative for the last chapter. The story ends with a hint of hope for him, as he admits his responsibility for what happened to Podkayne — that he “fubbed it, mighty dry” — then shows some human feeling by regretting his inability to cry and describes his plan to raise the fairy himself. In the revised version, Podkayne is badly injured by the bomb, but not fatally.


Uncle Tom, in a phone conversation with Podkayne’s father, blames the parents — especially the mother — for neglecting the upbringing of the children. Uncle Tom feels that Clark is dangerous and maladjusted, and attributes this to the mother giving priority to her career. Clark still takes over as the narrator, and, again, regrets that Podkayne was hurt and plans to take care of the fairy, this time because Podkayne will want to see it when she is better. This is the ending that appeared when the book was published The Baen edition included both endings which differ only on the last page and featured a “pick the ending” contest, in which readers were asked to submit essays on which ending they preferred.

The edition included both endings, Jim Baen ‘s own postlude to the story, and twenty-five of the essays. The ending in which Podkayne dies was declared the winner. Among the reasons readers favored this ending were that they felt Heinlein should have been free to create his own story, and they believed the changed ending turned a tragedy into a mere adventure, and not a very well constructed one at that.

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