Review: Variable Star

Jacob Allred

Just finished Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson. It is a sci-fi book that was outlined by Robert A. Heinlein before he died, and then fleshed out by Spider Robinson many years later.


The premise is pretty good. A poor college student finds out that his supposedly equally-poor college student girlfriend is a member of one of the richest families in the solar system. To escape the life they have planned out for him, he hops on a colony ship heading dozens of light years away.

Things are going relatively well until Sol (our sun) explodes, killing everyone and everything except for a few colonies and the colony ship that the protagonist is on. To make matters worse, an engineer that keeps the ship running commits suicide, leaving the ship stranded in space.

This is where things break down. Like the last book I read, it feels a lot like the author wrote a good story, but then got himself in a hole and couldn’t figure out how to get out of it. The ending doesn’t make any sense, because it is based entirely on several highly intelligent main characters being completely ignorant of what should have been completely obvious to them.

Overall, a good read though.