Another book down on the rereading-Heinlein project, this one a collection of ten short stories in his "Future History" timeline. Only a couple were originally published in science fiction magazines; the remainder were published in mainstream mags like the Saturday Evening Post.
Edition trivia: I reread the paperback I picked up a long time ago. How long ago? Well, the cover price is a cool 35¢. A used copy of this edition at Amazon will set you back at least $6.49 with shipping. (It seems the current in-print version lists for $7.99, but it's combined with The Menace from Earth.)
I can't recommend it, unless (like me) you're a slightly obsessive Heinlein completist. The stories:
- "Delilah and the Space Rigger"
- Workers on a space station under construction are flummoxed when an incoming worker turns out to be a dame! After much sexist snarling, it's realized that productivity has actually improved after her arrival. Get more dames up here! Also, a padre!
- "Space Jockey"
- A rocket pilot squabbles with the Mrs. about his demanding job, but (also) saves the day after an obstreperous brat in his ship's control room sends them wildly off course.
- "The Long Watch"
- There are nuclear weapons on the Moon, ostensibly for peacekeeping purposes. Unfortunately, a madman (think: Jack D. Ripper) takes over and proposes to nuke a few cities and establish a Terran military dictatorship. Fortunately, our self-sacrificing hero saves the day. (This is actually a pretty good yarn.)
- "Gentlemen, Be Seated!"
- Three guys in a damaged lunar tunnel which is slowly losing pressure. What to do? You assiduously (heh) use whatever patching material comes to hand.
- "The Black Pits of Luna"
- A family on a lunar tour with two young boys. Fine, but… oh oh, the younger, more impetuous one goes wandering off and nobody can find him! Except his older brother, who uses his knowledge of what the kid likes to do.
- "It's Great to Be Back!"
- A married couple is unhappy with their life on the Moon, and return to good old Earth. Then they realize that Earth is no great shakes either, and return to the Moon. (Sorry, I guess that was a spoiler. But that's really all that happens.)
- "—We Also Walk Dogs"
- A lucrative "solve every problem" company is confronted with a toughie, which merely involves the invention of a gravity-controlling device. Only problem: the guy who can do it is kind of a reclusive nut. (Just like all physicists, except more so.) How to persuade him? It turns out he has a weakness for…
- "Ordeal in Space"
- A former spaceman severely traumatized by a near-fatal spacewalk returns to earth. He is cured by rescuing a kitten. No, I am not making this up.
- "The Green Hills of Earth"
- The book's title track is the story of Rhysling, "blind singer of the spaceways". A warts-and-all mini-bio of the man. (I recommend the Wikipedia page that goes into detail on the story's origin and impact. Did you know that the Apollo 15 astronauts named a lunar crater "Rhysling"?)
- "Logic of Empire"
- Two friends argue about the labor system
on Venus: is it slavery? After considerable amounts of drinking, one of
the participants finds himself shanghaied … to Venus! And yep, if it's
not slavery, it's a remarkable facsimile.
Mainly notable for a long paragraph near the end, which appears to be pseudo-Marxian claptrap about the inevitable appearance of slave labor in a colonial setting where the monetary system designed to mumble mumble mumble… Seems to be a leftover from his flirtation with Upton Sinclair-style "wage slavery" leftism.
All stories are notable for their detailed descriptions of imaginary technology. Heinlein was very much a show-the-rivets writer.