Have Space Pogo Stick--Will Travel
May 7, 2009 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Name-that-golden-age-SF-bookfilter: a kid wins a contest to go to a space station, and it's not Have Space Suit--Will Travel.

I must have read this in '95 or '6, but it was old, old enough that my parochial school library's copy had a signature on the card from one of my classmates' parents. The basic premise: a kid wins a contest to go to a space station (a big Von Braun-y wheel, depicted on the cover) and plays a sort of junior science intern role there. There's a kindly commanding officer who doesn't have any legs, but that's no problem because everyone gets around the station on pogo stick-esque devices, bouncing off the walls, and (maybe?) an older brother character in one of the junior members of the crew. There are pygmy-esque Martians (on Mars and in movies, I don't think the main character ever meets any of them), a satellite colony for the elderly the main character goes to on some sort of field trip, and a swimming-in-microgravity contest where the characters try to get across a room starting from the middle.

It's totally not implausible that I'm mixing up a bunch of stories I read as a kid here, but the one I'm looking for is the one where everyone gets around the space station on pogo sticks and the commander doesn't have legs. Not that untangling any others I'm mixing up wouldn't be nice, though! I've been googling the story for ages, but haven't ever come up with anything. Hope me, Ask Metafilter!
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
Best answer: Oh, yeah, I read the same book back in probably 1980 or so, and it was old then. It must be Islands in the Sky by Arthur C Clarke.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 PM on May 7, 2009

Might part of that mix include Orphans in the Sky?
posted by dws at 9:48 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: I am pretty sure it is "Islands in the Sky" by Arthur C Clarke published in 1952. I don't remember much of the rest of the plot, but it certainly begins with a kid winning a radio quiz show (or something) in which the prize was a trip anywhere in the world. He bends the definition of "world" to include the space station, much to the producers displeasure.
posted by AndrewStephens at 9:51 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Definitely "Islands in the Sky". The prize offered (by an airline) was a free round trip to "any part of the Earth". The uncle of the kid who won is a lawyer, and points out that they said "of the Earth", not "on the Earth", and by the terms of a certain treaty, Inner Station (in LEO) is considered a part of the Earth, where none of the other space stations are (because they're in higher orbits). It's sort of the space equivalent of territorial waters.

So that's where the kid chooses to go.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:59 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: It must be Islands in the Sky by Arthur C Clarke.

Yup. No legs guy was definately in that.
posted by Artw at 10:16 PM on May 7, 2009

Response by poster: Yep, bottom left is definitely the cover I remember. Thanks, everybody! All this time, and I had no idea it was Clarke.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 10:21 PM on May 7, 2009

I think I read both *bottom left* (that was the picture in my mind's eye when I answered this question) as well as *bottom right*.

My favourite Arthur C. Clarke book as a kid.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 PM on May 7, 2009

Good heavens, I read that. I thought it was a story from Boy's Life. I particularly remember that people living on the space station had no wrinkles. No gravity = no wrinkles. Seems a shame that NASA can't capitalize on that somehow. They would have all the funding they needed.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:29 AM on May 8, 2009

Yep, bottom left is definitely the cover I remember.

Its original publication, one of the Winston Science Fiction books. (Link's to a page about them where you can find cover scans of the whole series.)
posted by Rash at 7:33 AM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

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