cover image Higher Education: A Jupiter Novel

Higher Education: A Jupiter Novel

Charles Sheffield. Tor Books, $21.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86174-2

Two SF powerhouses collaborate on an exuberant kickoff to the publisher's Jupiter series, which is dedicated to novels patterned after Robert A. Heinlein's classic inspirational tales for young adults and adults. In the 21st century, American public education is foundering under the weight of bureaucracy. But when Rick Luban, 16, is expelled for a school prank that gets out of hand, he's recruited by the asteroid-mining corporation Vantage Mining and Refining, which has its own system of ""higher education."" Through the company's screenings and schools on Earth and in space, Rick acquires not only formal learning but a mature sense of responsibility. Ultimately, he plays a vital role in uncovering a lethal sabotage attempt by one of Vantage's corporate rivals. As might be expected from Sheffield (whose novelette ""Georgia on My Mind"" won both a 1994 Hugo and a 1993 Nebula) and Pournelle (Footfall, etc.), the scientific and technological background is outstanding. The portrait of society tends toward the didactic, and credibility is stretched when Vantage bets its future on new talent like Rick and his cohorts. But in response to that bet, Rick matures, and in a believable way--an essential element in any SF coming-of-age novel, including this high-spirited exemplar.(June)