A novel by Robert A. Heinlein
, first published in 1958. Widely considered to be one of the best of his young adult novels.
Set Twenty Minutes into the Future
(of 1958, that is), the plot centers around Kip Russell, a young man who wins a used space suit by writing a whole bunch of advertising jingles for Skyway Soap. (He was hoping to win a trip to the moon. The spacesuit was the consolation prize.) After spending a great deal of time and energy restoring it, Kip decides to sell the spacesuit to help pay for college. He takes it for a final drive first — unfortunately, this results in him being kidnapped by a reptilian alien he ends up calling Wormface. The alien is also holding captive a little genius girl named Peewee and a strange, mink-like creature Kip calls the "Mother Thing"
Kip, Peewee, and the Mother Thing find themselves in Wormface and his fellow aliens' secret base on the moon and manage to escape, albeit briefly. After the failed attempt, the wormfaces decide to move the prisoners to an even more remote base on Pluto. There, the Mother Thing atempts an escape by setting up a beacon to contact her people, but seems to be fatally injured before she can activate the beacon. Kip completes the task and ends up almost dead himself. It turns out she was fine — her species can just shut itself down in a way that simulates death.
Fortunately, they are rescued and treated by the Mother Thing's people. Unfortunately, the Mother Thing's people like to judge new races
to see if it's safe to let them join galactic society. Kip finds himself called upon to defend humanity's right to exist
... despite having just graduated from high school.
In what may be the quintessential Heinlein ending, mankind wins the right to live, everyone gets home safe with scientific proof of their adventure, and Kip turns out to be a mathematical genius.
This novel provides examples of: