This was originally a Young Adult novel—or a “Juvenile” as they called it back then. It follows Thorby, a young slave boy, sold at auction on a distant planet to an old beggar named Baslim. Baslim has a very strict moral code, which includes the wholehearted belief that people should not be sold as slaves. So, instead, he raises Thorby as a son, educates him, and gives him a life that’s meager, even squalid, but also free, loving, and ultimately happy.
Over time, it becomes apparent that Baslim is more than just an old, crippled beggar. He knows things and does things that aren’t befitting of his status, and he keeps all sorts of secrets. One thing is certain, though: he’s a good man in a world that’s sorely lacking in good men.
This first issue covers a whole lot of ground, seeing Thorby grow from boyhood to young adulthood and setting up quite a bit of plot in the process. Heinlein’s stories always have a rather sweeping scope, though. They take us through quite a bit, but it’s always a fun ride.
Heinlein fans will recognize several other familiar themes, as well, such as the use of hypnosis and eidetic memory. The way they’re used can be a little silly at times, and they definitely strain credulity, but they make for convenient plot devices to advance the rest of the story, which is the important thing.
The artwork here is great, as well, vivid and colorful, bringing the world of the distant planet on which the story takes place to life and adding depth to the story. Between the two, I was hooked right from the beginning and was held in rapt attention all the way through. I can’t wait till the next issue. If you’re a fan of Heinlein, YA sci-fi, space travel, or just really cool and compelling stories, you’ll want to take a look at Citizen of the Galaxy.