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Encyclopedia > The Star Beast
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The Star Beast is a 1954 science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein about a high school senior who discovers that his late father's extra-terrestrial pet is more than it appears to be. front cover of the star beast by robert a. ... 1954 was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Robert A. Heinlein Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7, 1907 – May 8, 1988) was one of the most influential authors in the science fiction genre. ... Extraterrestrial life refers to forms of life that may exist and originate outside of the planet Earth. ...

John Thomas Stuart, one of whose ancestors brought "Cuddlepup" home from an interstellar voyage, has a problem. The pet he inherited has grown to gargantuan proportions; it ate a used Buick and (still worse) destroyed a neighbor's flowers. His mother wants him to get rid of it, and a court orders it destroyed.


Johnny's only alternative is to sell his pet to a museum (which would study it to death, if they didn't dissect it immediately). So early one morning he runs away to the hills, riding on his talking pet's back. His girlfriend joins him and suggests bringing the beast back into town; they could hide it in a neighbor's greenhouse.


The rest of the novel describes the discovery of the alien pet's true nature, and the diplomatic repercussions of this fact. The humor of the story comes when an awesomely powerful heretofore unknown alien race appears and demands the return of a lost child of theirs, evidently an heir of some sort to their empire. At first, no one associates the Star Beast, by now larger than an elephant, and who can barely talk at an elementary level, with these all powerful strangers. But it is discovered that indeed, the lost child is the lost "princess" of the strangers. The irony of the story, and what raises it far above the run of the mill juvenile fiction Heinlein was writing, was that from the perspective of the humans, they had a long lived pet. From the perspective of the Star Beast, she had grown up over generations raising humans as her hobby, and had no intention of stopping. Heinlein's ability to show how appearance is sometimes not conversant with reality was never better than in this novel, and it's unique ending makes it one of his better works. For supposedly juvenile fiction, it also managed a good touch on the cost of love and loyalty.


Editions

  • June 1954, Scribner, library binding, ISBN 0684124211
  • March 12, 1977, Del Rey, paperback, ISBN 034526066X
  • June 1, 1977, Holiday House, hardcover, ISBN 0684153297
  • December 12, 1977, Del Rey, paperback, ISBN 0345275802
  • August 12, 1983, Del Rey, paperback, ISBN 0345314689
  • June 12, 1987, Del Rey, paperback reissue edition, 256 pages, ISBN 0345350596

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