I Recently Finished Reading: Citizen of the Galaxy

Cotg58Despite the fact that Thorby is perfect and Baslim is flawless, I really enjoyed this book. Some of that may be due to the fact that it was written in 1957, so many of cliches in the story weren’t as established as they are now. Some of it may be because I was in the mood for something a little lighter than what I’ve been reading recently, and some of it may be because Heinlein is just that good of an author. I’m not sure, but nonetheless, this was a fun book.

Citizen of the Galaxy is a pretty standard adventure. It follows Thorby, a young slave who’s bought by a kindly old beggar who educates him and teaches him skills that Thorby then uses throughout the rest of the book to better his life. There’s never really any sense of danger, and many of the main plot points are fairly predictable, but the details are fun and engaging, with a few surprises thrown in as well.

Even though the book is part of Heinlein’s youth series, he touches on some pretty significant ideas. Like many of Heinlein’s other books that I’ve read, Citizen of the Galaxy condenses a few complex ideas into very simple terms in very practical settings. The most prominent one is slavery. One specific example here was when Thorby is discussing slavery with a character who didn’t believe that the practice still existed. Thorby’s simple statement, “ten lashes will convince anybody,” ends up being a lot more impactful than a discourse about the practice itself.

I’ve enjoyed almost every Heinlein book I’ve read, and this was no different. It’s an entertaining book, even if the story didn’t feel particularly new or exciting. Sometimes that’s what I need in a book, a simple story that’s well told, and Citizen of the Galaxy delivered.


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