“The Menace from Earth” is a 1957 science fiction novelette by Robert Heinlein. It is about a 15 year old girl who lives on the Moon and gets jealous when her partner acts as a tour guide for a beautiful Earth woman.
Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:
Holly Jones is a teen-aged spaceship engineer. She and her partner, Jeff, are designing a starship which will use a mass-conversion power plant, but until she can do that full time she works as an inside guide for tourists visiting the Moon. When a strikingly beautiful tourist of hers requests to go outside she turns her over to Jeff. Whoops! That proves to be a mistake because Jeff is… well, a man. As Jeff and the Earth woman spend more and more time together Holly becomes increasingly concerned about the future of their partnership – that is until something happens that brings Holly and her closer together.
“Hi, Penalty Weight. Free to take a client?”
“Well, I was supposed to guide a family party, but they’re late.”
“Cancel them. Miss Brentwood . . . step into pickup, please. This is Mr. Hardesty.”
Jeff’s eyes widened and I felt uneasy. But it did not occur to me that Jeff could be attracted by a groundhog . . . even though it is conceded that men are robot slaves of their body chemistry in such matters. I knew she was exceptionally decorative, but it was unthinkable that Jeff could be captivated by any groundhog, no matter how well designed. They don’t speak our language!
My Two Cents:
• The good:
- Telling this story from the point of view of a girl was a stroke of genius – especially given that it was written in 1957! I found Holly to be an extremely interesting character, and totally enjoyed her story.
- Bats’ Cave. This is one of those settings in science fiction that make you ache to really experience it! Ah… I guess I’ll just have to dream about it.
- I quite liked that “The Menace from Earth” was set on the Moon. I have read a lot of similar stories that were set on Mars, but I enjoyed having the Moon take center stage in this one.
• The bad:
- Hmm… not that this is a bad point, but I often wonder how well male authors do when portraying female characters – especially strong lead characters. Perhaps some of the women will roll their eyes when reading this story, but I am not sure. I would love to hear any comments about this!
• Page Count: 15
• Word Count: 9,630
Where you can find “The Menace from Earth”:
- This novelette first appeared in the October 1957 issue of New Worlds.
- “The Menace from Earth” is included in the excellent story collection The World Turned Upside Down.
- You can read a free online version of this story at the webscription.net preview for The World Turned Upside Down.
Some Interesting Links:
- If you are interested in learning more about Robert Heinlein be sure to check out this page of frequently asked questions about the famous science fiction author.
- Special thanks to Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings for pointing out this story to me!
Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you might also like A Rose for Ecclesiastes, about a gifted linguist who is the first human allowed to read sacred Martian texts, by Roger Zelazny.