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Authors: Robert A Heinlein

Space Cadet

BOOK: Space Cadet
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From Mars to Venus—
to danger-filled adventures
deep in outer space…

This is the seminal novel of a young man’s education as a member of an elite, paternalistic nonmilitary organization of leaders dedicated to preserving human civilization, a provocative parallel to Heinlein’s later military coming-of-age tale,
Starship Troopers

Only the best and brightest—the strongest and the most courageous—ever managed to become Space Cadets at the Space Academy. Young men such as Matt and Tex, from Terra; Oscar, from Venus; Pierre, from one of Jupiter’s moons. They are in training to become part of the elite guard of the solar system, accepting missions others fear, taking risks no others dare, and upholding the peace of the solar system for the benefit of all.

But before Matt Dodson can earn his rightful place in the ranks, his mettle is to be tested in the most severe and extraordinary ways—ways that change him forever, from the midwestern American boy into a man of the Solar Patrol.


The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
Glory Road
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Space Cadet


This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or are used fictitiously.


Copyright © 1948, 1975 by Robert A. Heinlein
Copyright assigned to The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Library Foundation, 1988

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.

This book is printed on acid-free paper.

A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Tor® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Heinlein, Robert A. (Robert Anson), 1907-1988
  Space cadet / Robert A. Heinlein.— 1st Tor ed.
    p. cm.
  “A Tom Doherty Associates book.”
  Summary: A young man reports for the final tests for appointment as a cadet in the Interplanetary Patrol, survives the tests, studies in the school ship, and goes on a regular Patrol vessel and encounters danger on Venus.
  ISBN 0-765-31450-9 (alk. paper)
  EAN 978-0-765-31450-5 (alk. paper)
  [1. Science fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7·H368Sp 2005



First Tor Edition: December 2005

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  1. Terra Base

  2. Elimination Process

  3. Over the Bumps

  4. First Muster

  5. Into Space

  6. “Reading, and ’Riting, and ’Rithmetic—”

  7. To Make a Spaceman

  8. Terra Station

  9. Long Haul

  10. Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

  11. P.R.S.
    Aes Triplex

  12. P.R.S.

  13. Long Way Home

  14. “The Natives Are Friendly…”

  15. Pie with a Fork

  16. P.R.S.

  17. Hotcakes for Breakfast

  18. In the Commandant’s Office


“To Matthew Brooks Dodson,” the paper in his hand read, “greetings:

“Having successfully completed the field elimination tests for appointment to the position of cadet in the Interplanetary Patrol you are authorized to report to the Commandant, Terra Base, Santa Barbara Field, Colorado, North American Union, Terra, on or before One July 2075, for further examination.

“You are cautioned to remember that the majority of candidates taking these final tests usually fail and you should provide—”

Matt folded the paper and stuck it back in his belt pouch. He did not care to think about the chance of failure. The passenger across from him, a boy about his own age, caught his eye. “That paper looks familiar, you a candidate too?”

“That’s right.”

“Well, shake! M’ name’s Jarman—I’m from Texas.”

“Glad to know you, Tex. I’m Matt Dodson, from Des Moines.”

“Howdy, Matt. We ought to be about there—” The car sighed softly and slowed; their chairs rocked to meet the rapid deceleration. The car stopped and their chairs swung back to normal position. “We
there,” Jarman finished.

The telescreen at the end of the car, busy a moment before with a blonde beauty demonstrating Sorkin’s Super-Stellar Soap, now read: TERRA BASE STATION. The two boys grabbed their bags, and hurried out. A moment later, they were on the escalator, mounting to the surface.

Facing the station a half mile away in the cool, thin air stood Hayworth Hall, Earth headquarters of the fabulous Patrol. Matt stared at it, trying to realize that he was at last seeing it.

Jarman nudged him. “Come on.”

“Huh? Oh—sure.” A pair of slidewalks stretched from the station to the hall; they stepped onto the one running toward the building. The slidewalk was crowded; more boys streamed out of the station behind them. Matt noticed two boys with swarthy, thin features who were wearing high, tight turbans, although dressed otherwise much like himself. Further down the walk he glimpsed a tall, handsome youth whose impassive face was shiny black.

The Texas boy hooked his thumbs in his belt and looked around. “Granny, kill another chicken!” he said. “There’s company for dinner. Speaking of that,” he went on, “I hope they don’t wait lunch too long. I’m hungry.”

Matt dug a candy bar out of his pouch, split it and gave half to Jarman, who accepted it gratefully. “You’re a pal, Matt, I’ve been living on my own fat ever since breakfast—and that’s risky. Say, your telephone is sounding.”

“Oh!” Matt fumbled in his pouch and got out his phone. “Hello?”

“That you, son?” came his father’s voice.

“Yes, Dad.”

“Did you get there all right?”

“Sure, I’m about to report in.”

“How’s your leg?”

“Leg’s all right, Dad.” His answer was not frank; his right leg, fresh from a corrective operation for a short Achilles’ tendon, was aching as he spoke.

“That’s good. Now see here, Matt—if it should work out that you aren’t selected, don’t let it get you down. You call me at once and—”

“Sure, sure, Dad,” Matt broke in. “I’ll have to sign off—I’m in a crowd. Good-by. Thanks for calling.”

“Good-by, son. Good luck.”

Tex Jarman looked at him understandingly. “Your folks always worry, don’t they? I fooled mine—packed my phone in my bag.” The slidewalk swung in a wide curve preparatory to heading back; they stepped off with the crowd, in front of Hayworth Hall. Tex paused to read the inscription over the great doorway. “
Quis custodi
—What does it say, Matt?”

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
. That’s Latin for: Who will watch the guardians?”

“You read Latin, Matt?”

“No, I just remember that bit from a book about the Patrol.”

The rotunda of Hayworth Hall was enormous and seemed even larger, for, despite brilliant lighting at the floor level, the domed ceiling gave back no reflection at all; it was midnight black—black and studded with stars. Familiar stars—blazing Orion faced the tossing head of Taurus; the homely shape of the Dipper balanced on its battered handle at north-northeast horizon; just south of overhead the Seven Sisters shone.

The illusion of being outdoors at night was most persuasive. The lighted walls and floor at the level at which people walked and talked and hurried seemed no more than a little band of light, a circle of warmth and comfort, against the awful depth of space, like prairie schooners drawn up for the night under a sharp desert sky.

The boys caught their breaths, as did everyone who saw it for the first time. But they could not stop to wonder as something else demanded their attention. The floor of the rotunda was sunk many feet below the level at which they entered; they stood on a balcony which extended around the great room to enclose a huge, shallow, circular pit. In this pit a battered spaceship lurched on a bed of rock and sand as if it had crash-landed from the mimic sky above.

“It’s the
—” Tex said, almost as if he doubted it.

be,” Matt agreed in a whisper.

They moved to the balcony railing and read a plaque posted there:

USSF Rocket Ship
Kilroy Was Here

From Terra to Mars and return—Lieut. Colonel Robert deFries Sims, Commanding; Captain Saul S. Abrams; Master Sergeant Malcolm MacGregor. None survived the return landing. Rest in Peace.

They crowded next to two other boys and stared at the
. Tex nudged Matt. “See the gash in the dirt, where she skidded? Say, do you suppose they just built right over her, where she lay?’

One of the other two—a big-boned six-footer with tawny hair—answered, “No, the
landed in North Africa.”

“Then they must have fixed it to look like where she crashed. You a candidate too?”

“That’s right.”

“I’m Bill Jarman—from Texas. And this is Matt Dodson.”

“I’m Oscar Jensen—and this is Pierre Armand.”

“Howdy, Oscar. Glad to know you, Pierre.”

“Call me Pete,” Armand acknowledged. Matt noticed that he spoke Basic English with an accent, but Matt was unable to place it. Oscar’s speech was strange, too—a suggestion of a lisp. He turned back to the ship.

“Imagine having the guts to go out into space in a cracker box like that,” he said. “It scares me to think about it”

“Me, too,” agreed Oscar Jensen.

“It’s a dirty shame,” Pierre said, softly.

“What is, Pete?” Jarman demanded.

“That their luck didn’t hold. You can see it was an almost perfect landing—they didn’t just crash in, or there would have been nothing left but a hole in the ground.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Say, there’s a stairway down over on the far side—see it, Matt? Do you suppose we could look through her?”

BOOK: Space Cadet
12.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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