Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

The Star Beast Del Rey cover The Star Beast (1954)
a Heinlein juvenile book

1977 Del Rey paperback
cover art by Darrell Sweet
253 pages (left)

1970s Ace paperback 
$1.25 cover price (right)
The Star Beast Ace cover

From the Del Rey paperback back cover:
       Lummox had been the Stuart family pet for years.  Though far from cuddly and rather large, it had always been obedient and docile.  Except, that is, for the time it had eaten the second-hand Buick...
       But now, all of a sudden and without explanation, Lummox had begun chomping down a variety of things - not least, a very mean dog and a cage of virtually indestructible steel
       John Thomas and Lummox were soon in awfully hot water, and they didn't know how to get out.  And Neither one really understood just how bad things were - or how bad the situation could get  - until some space voyagers appeared and turned a far-from-ordinary family problem into an extraordinary confrontation.

From the Ace paperback back cover:
       "The Star Beast is a tale about a horrendous beast from another star-system, smuggled back to the Earth of 200 years hence as a baby, now grown bigger than an earthly elephant, and so tough that bullets bounce off it, and it licks down poisons with relish, but which is nevertheless just about the most appealing and lovable creature of the kind ever delineated...
       "Heinlein never preaches directly and he never writes down... His underlying theme, I think, is that not only are all men children of God and therefore brothers, but all higher life-forms that men may encounter, someday, in the outer reaches of the galaxy...." --- Denver Post

Read for group discussion on April 22, 2009

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 6 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 7 Barb -
Aaron 5 Cynthia -
Jackie - Ron 6
Jennifer 5 Stephanie 6

Aaron's Commentary   Robert A. Heinlein - The Star Beast

For me this doesn't rank with the best of Heinlein's juveniles, like Citizen of the Galaxy, but I have to give it a mild recommendation just because the scenes with the great beast Lummox are a lot of fun.  I liked how it comes out slowly that Lummox is much wiser than he seems; he just thinks more in the long term than we do.  But the scenes of politics and galactic intrigue do nothing for me, and the character Betty, who is meant to be spunky and cute, just struck me as annoying.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Our book group has also read the following books by Robert A. Heinlein:
-- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress  in February 1995
-- Stranger in a Strange Land  in August 1998
-- Starman Jones  in October 1999
-- Friday  in January 2002
-- Citizen of the Galaxy  in October 2006
-- Have Spacesuit, Will Travel  in April 2008
-- Double Star  in February 2009
-- Time Enough for Love  in March 2009

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was a US science fiction writer, perhaps the all-time most important writer of science fiction.

(note: he wrote many important works before the major SF awards were created)
1956 Hugo Award for novel Double Star
1960 Hugo Award for novel Starship Troopers
1962 Hugo Award for novel Stranger in a Strange Land
1967 Hugo Award for novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

He began publishing SF short fiction in 1939. His pre-eminence in the field from 1940 to 1960 was unassailable.

Some of his early works fit in his loose Future History such as the story collections The Man who Sold the Moon (1950), The Green Hills of Earth (1951), Revolt in 2100 (1953), and the novels Methuselah's Children (1941, revised 1958), and Orphans in the Sky (fixup 1963).

Published first under pseudonyms were Sixth Column (1941, a.k.a. The Day After Tomorrow), and Beyond this Horizon (1942).

Heinlein made an major contribution to young adult SF.  Many SF fans today grew up reading these Heinlein juveniles: Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), Space Cadet (1948), Red Planet (1949), Farmer in the Sky (1950), Between Planets (1951), The Rolling Stones (1952), Starman Jones (1953), The Star Beast (1954), Tunnel in the Sky (1955), Time for the Stars (1956), Citizen of the Galaxy (1957), Have Space Suit -Will Travel (1958) and Podkayne of Mars (1963).

Novels for grownups Heinlein wrote in the 1950s include The Puppet Masters (1951) an invasion tale; Double Star (1956) about a failed actor who impersonates a politician; and The Door into Summer (1957) which involves suspended animation ("long sleep") and time-travel.

Starship Troopers (1958) was originally written as a juvenile, but was rejected by his publisher because of its violence.  It is the first book in which Heinlein strongly voiced his opinions.

Stranger in a Strange Land (1962), probably Heinlein's most well known novel, involves a commune, free love, and a new religion.  It was a cult-book for students in the late 1960s.

Glory Road (1963) is a sword and sorcery fantasy.  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) is about a revolution by Moon colonists.

Many of his later works are long rambling opinionated novels about extended families, such as Farnham's Freehold (1964), I Will Fear No Evil (1970), Time Enough for Love (1973), The Number of the Beast (1979), The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985) and To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987).  The last four books revolve around immortal Lazarus Long.  The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978) is extracts from Time Enough for Love.

Other later works are Friday (1982) and Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984).

Additional Heinlein story collections are Waldo and Magic, Inc (1950), Assignment in Eternity (1953), The Menace from Earth (1959), The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1959, also called 6 X H), Three by Heinlein (1965), The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein (1966), The Past Through Tomorrow (1967), The Best of Robert Heinlein (1973), Expanded Universe (1980), and Requiem (1992).

Grumbles from the Grave (collection 1989) edited by Virginia Heinlein includes letters.  Tramp Royale (written 1953-4, published 1992) is a travel memoir.

For Us, the Living (2003) was published posthumously, it was the first novel he wrote in 1937.

Variable Star (2006) by Spider Robinson was written from a 1955 outline by Heinlein.

Our book club's page for Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein
Arrastra SF: Robert A. Heinlein - The Door into Summer
Robert A. Heinlein - Wikipedia
Quotable Heinlein

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