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Higher Education

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When a misfired practical joke gets him kicked out of school, Rick Luban thinks he has nowhere to go but down. Instead, he gets a second chance--and a whole new life--when he signs up for a career in asteroid mining. But life in space proves more challenging than Rick expected. Competition is intense and the harsh realties of space allow no room for error. On his way to a b When a misfired practical joke gets him kicked out of school, Rick Luban thinks he has nowhere to go but down. Instead, he gets a second chance--and a whole new life--when he signs up for a career in asteroid mining. But life in space proves more challenging than Rick expected. Competition is intense and the harsh realties of space allow no room for error. On his way to a brighter future, Rick faces ever more demanding tests, as well as the very real dangers of sabotage and murder.


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When a misfired practical joke gets him kicked out of school, Rick Luban thinks he has nowhere to go but down. Instead, he gets a second chance--and a whole new life--when he signs up for a career in asteroid mining. But life in space proves more challenging than Rick expected. Competition is intense and the harsh realties of space allow no room for error. On his way to a b When a misfired practical joke gets him kicked out of school, Rick Luban thinks he has nowhere to go but down. Instead, he gets a second chance--and a whole new life--when he signs up for a career in asteroid mining. But life in space proves more challenging than Rick expected. Competition is intense and the harsh realties of space allow no room for error. On his way to a brighter future, Rick faces ever more demanding tests, as well as the very real dangers of sabotage and murder.

30 review for Higher Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This is the first of the Jupiter books, a series of what we now call YA novels that Sheffield and Pournelle created in the spirit of Robert A. Heinlein's books for younger readers. The series was just called Jupiter, they're not set there, and it's not really a series in the sense that there's a reading order or that the plots or characters overlap. I was a bit surprised at the amount of sex, cursing, violence, and other what we now call adult content in a book labeled as for youngsters. It is a This is the first of the Jupiter books, a series of what we now call YA novels that Sheffield and Pournelle created in the spirit of Robert A. Heinlein's books for younger readers. The series was just called Jupiter, they're not set there, and it's not really a series in the sense that there's a reading order or that the plots or characters overlap. I was a bit surprised at the amount of sex, cursing, violence, and other what we now call adult content in a book labeled as for youngsters. It is a good fast-paced story, with interesting and plausible scientific premises, and a fine Vincent di Fate cover.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    All four of these are basically the same plot, with similar themes. They're engaging, but not awesome, imo. Probably best for teen boys. Possibly dated by now. The first is the grittiest. My favorite is Putting Up Roots. This is the most cliched. All are recommended if you happen to find them at your library or friend's house, none if you have to buy them. They do *not* need to be read in order. The significant characters do not carry over, nor does the plot. The world that is being built is deve All four of these are basically the same plot, with similar themes. They're engaging, but not awesome, imo. Probably best for teen boys. Possibly dated by now. The first is the grittiest. My favorite is Putting Up Roots. This is the most cliched. All are recommended if you happen to find them at your library or friend's house, none if you have to buy them. They do *not* need to be read in order. The significant characters do not carry over, nor does the plot. The world that is being built is developed further in each, but an understanding beyond what is included in each book is not necessary. The writing is unexpectedly fresh and clean, with some gems. From The Billion Dollar Boy, "Shelby woke up bit by bit, body before brain, memory before mind." (Review copy-pasted to each of the four.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Darcy

    by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle, published in 1996. This novel is one of four in the “Jupiter Novel” series started by Sheffield and Pournelle. This is the first book, co-written by both authors, (the last three are Sheffield only) and it is quite similar to Ender’s Game, but not quite as grandiose. The backdrop for the Jupiter novel universe is that Earth schools, and Earth society, have pretty much run their course. Classical schooling no longer teaches route approaches to learning. Not by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle, published in 1996. This novel is one of four in the “Jupiter Novel” series started by Sheffield and Pournelle. This is the first book, co-written by both authors, (the last three are Sheffield only) and it is quite similar to Ender’s Game, but not quite as grandiose. The backdrop for the Jupiter novel universe is that Earth schools, and Earth society, have pretty much run their course. Classical schooling no longer teaches route approaches to learning. Nothing needs to be memorized anymore as “readers” will read for you and calculators do all your math. So what is the point? Well, for Rick Luban the point will becomes quite clear when he is kicked out of school and needs to think about the alternatives. One, which is suggested to him by a sympathetic teacher, is asteroid mining and it seems a like a great idea. But to become an asteroid miner is not as easy as signing on the dotted line. Rick ties out for it, but soon finds that his classical Earth schooling has taught his next to nothing. He is made to read for himself, do math without aid and use his brain like he has never before. Out in the asteroid belt machines do not always work or are not always available. This is a fun romp to close outer space as we follow Rick on his adventure to mature and ultimately achieve his goals. Some interesting hard science fiction ideas are also tossed around to good effect as well as being integral to the story. I had mentioned earlier that it has many similarities to Ender’s Game, and it does. There is competition between “apprentices” and only a select few will make it. There is conflict between Rick and a bully and female characters are just as wily and skilled as any man. On the way to the asteroid belts themselves, for the last leg of training, things start getting out of control, and it is fun to watch how Rick and the others adapt. It is a story of growing up and moving on. Betrayal, deceit and corruption are ways of life in the belt and competition between mining companies is almost warfare - civilized of course but not beyond murder and things worse. Only two things about this novel bothered me. One was that they never get to Jupiter. This is a “Jupiter” novel, isn’t it? A minor disappointment, but a disappointment all the same. So, no fun romping around the moons of Jupiter in this novel. And secondly, I wanted the story of Rick and the rest to continue, but looking over the next three novels by Sheffield it looks like this was a stand alone tale. The next three novels look interesting and I will read them. I think this novel is worth your while, especially if you liked Ender’s Game, though it is not really in the same league.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Higher Education is the by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle. It is the first book in the Jupiter Novels. It is a Young Adult Science Fiction novel. In a rather bleak future, the government and the school system is turning out drones who will be useless and on the government dole for life. Rick Luban is a trouble maker and when one of his practical jokes goes wrong he is kicked out of school. His prospects are bleak but he is given a second chance. He is recruited to train for Vanguard Minin Higher Education is the by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle. It is the first book in the Jupiter Novels. It is a Young Adult Science Fiction novel. In a rather bleak future, the government and the school system is turning out drones who will be useless and on the government dole for life. Rick Luban is a trouble maker and when one of his practical jokes goes wrong he is kicked out of school. His prospects are bleak but he is given a second chance. He is recruited to train for Vanguard Mining, a space mining company. If he is judged to be worthy he will be sent to the asteroid belt where he can make a living mining the many mineral-rich asteroids to be found there. Competition is fierce however and he will need to apply all his native intelligence in order to compete. Complicating things a rival mining company is out to sabotage the efforts of Vanguard Mining. A coming of age story in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    This was a surprisingly good story. It had a certain Ender's Game feel to it despite the kids being the mental equivalent of parking signs. It gets better as the kids learn and the story arc is actually a well-paced one. It even had an acceptable twist that didn't reek to the stratosphere of deux-ex-machina. The ending was short and sweet without leaving any loose ends. Excellent science in this book. The education of the characters allows the reader to be educated in turn without feeling like t This was a surprisingly good story. It had a certain Ender's Game feel to it despite the kids being the mental equivalent of parking signs. It gets better as the kids learn and the story arc is actually a well-paced one. It even had an acceptable twist that didn't reek to the stratosphere of deux-ex-machina. The ending was short and sweet without leaving any loose ends. Excellent science in this book. The education of the characters allows the reader to be educated in turn without feeling like they are in geek-school. It also doesn't cut off TOO many of the sharp corners of reality. It does, but it's under three hundred pages so what can you do? However... I was just a smidge annoyed that this book had nothing to do with Jupiter. Not One Damned Thing. Oh, it gets mentioned all-right, but that's it. This did not cause me undue concern with the FIRST book, but when the second, third, and (probably) fourth book skipped the stories outside of the solar system altogether I became pissed. False advertising always drives me nuts. It was probably some kind of publishing faux-pas where what was originally intended was not what came out, but STILL! ARG! And I don't have a damn clue what these books are doing in the adult section. The stories fit in the YA section much better as for length, content, and themes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    Sheffield must be an educator. This book offers a future where many young high school students lack of literacy has been augmented with special computers that READ the books to them. Tests are done with illustrations and most public school students lack the basic skills of math and English to do even the simpler work. In this world, the hero, plays a practical joke in his high school and is expelled. He manages to get on with a company that specializes in outer space mining, but he will have to Sheffield must be an educator. This book offers a future where many young high school students lack of literacy has been augmented with special computers that READ the books to them. Tests are done with illustrations and most public school students lack the basic skills of math and English to do even the simpler work. In this world, the hero, plays a practical joke in his high school and is expelled. He manages to get on with a company that specializes in outer space mining, but he will have to hone his reading and math skills if he is going to succeed. An interesting story about a space cadet, astronaut training of the future, and space mining. Fun because of its negative view of where public education is going, solid science for the fiction, and generally a little better than average read without being anything really great.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Topher

    Your basic pulp scifi story, as if out of the 50s or 60s, except with more sex. Which, when you consider the age of the characters vs the age of the authors introduces a bit of too much of a squick factor for me. I won't bother looking for the rest that fell into this series, and that's okay - given how big of a name the two authors are, my not reading this certainly isn't going to hurt them. Wasn't really sure I should put this on the YA shelf or not - it felt far more like dirty old men admirin Your basic pulp scifi story, as if out of the 50s or 60s, except with more sex. Which, when you consider the age of the characters vs the age of the authors introduces a bit of too much of a squick factor for me. I won't bother looking for the rest that fell into this series, and that's okay - given how big of a name the two authors are, my not reading this certainly isn't going to hurt them. Wasn't really sure I should put this on the YA shelf or not - it felt far more like dirty old men admiring young bodies than YA. *shrug* Clearly I had some mixed feelings on this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book (and series) was also not for me. Too old boys club of sci-fi and not enough cool world building and differing cultures, etc. When I realized it was a standalone and the whole series thing was just that they were set in the same universe, it made it really easy to walk away.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Icarus

    I was so thrilled to see someone attempting to bring back Heinleinesque juvinalia. A decade or so later, the attempt appears to have been abandoned, but it was fun while it lasted.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Big Orange Dave

    Share this book with a young person. They will enjoy it and appreciate it These two authors have combined their talents to create a memorable story about an all too possible future. They create a vivid environment that moves from New Mexico to near earth orbit to the asteroid belt as candidates become trainees and the. become apprentices learning quickly that a mistake can be fatal; and of the value of math, science and reading. Although written over 20 years ago, the authors use the book as a war Share this book with a young person. They will enjoy it and appreciate it These two authors have combined their talents to create a memorable story about an all too possible future. They create a vivid environment that moves from New Mexico to near earth orbit to the asteroid belt as candidates become trainees and the. become apprentices learning quickly that a mistake can be fatal; and of the value of math, science and reading. Although written over 20 years ago, the authors use the book as a warning about the public education system as they present an all too possible look at where it’s headed. If you know a teenager struggling through their school year, recommend this book for them. It might just provide a useful perspective as well as being an enjoyable read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    A rather enjoyable story, but set in a somewhat disappointing future. I find it hard to believe that space exploration and mining would be done by practically illiterate and frankly juvenile teens. Also, the timeline is somewhat ambiguous. A marginally educated group of teens is selected to compete for spots as space engineers and expected to be able to complete complex problems of space flight, inertial momentum, mining, engineering and other issues relating to space exploration and the mining A rather enjoyable story, but set in a somewhat disappointing future. I find it hard to believe that space exploration and mining would be done by practically illiterate and frankly juvenile teens. Also, the timeline is somewhat ambiguous. A marginally educated group of teens is selected to compete for spots as space engineers and expected to be able to complete complex problems of space flight, inertial momentum, mining, engineering and other issues relating to space exploration and the mining of asteroids. Their training is apparently done in a matter of weeks and they are then sent along to more advanced training in their specialties, which is where book two starts.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jess Mahler

    The thing about most dystopian fiction is that it is fundamentally pessimistic. The individual characters may have a happy ending, but the world as a whole is still fucked. Higher Education -- and most of the Jupiter novels, for that matter, present a future Earth that is as dystopian as any '90s cyberpunk novel. But the story isn't content with accepting the inevitability of dystopia. It believes that only can individual people become better, but that these people together can lay the foundation The thing about most dystopian fiction is that it is fundamentally pessimistic. The individual characters may have a happy ending, but the world as a whole is still fucked. Higher Education -- and most of the Jupiter novels, for that matter, present a future Earth that is as dystopian as any '90s cyberpunk novel. But the story isn't content with accepting the inevitability of dystopia. It believes that only can individual people become better, but that these people together can lay the foundation for a better world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BobA707

    Summary: Near future SF, education space opera ... all seems a bit unlikely. The plot moves along nicely but the book feels dated already. Plotline: OK plot, with a few twists and turns Premise: Mining asteroids yes, the rest seems pretty unlikely to me Writing: Simple, good descriptions, over states the obvious Ending: A little unexpected, nice twist Pace: Never a dull moment!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    This had a very Heinlein feel to it with the social commentary but also tosses in some science. I feel I learned a few things. Great start to a sci-fi series, focusing on a expelled hoodlum picked up to work with a space mining company.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mystery Theater

    Reminiscent of Heinlein's teen books such as Space Cadet or Farmer in the Sky, but nowhere near as good. Reminiscent of Heinlein's teen books such as Space Cadet or Farmer in the Sky, but nowhere near as good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    A mildly entertaining story that's more about the authors' politics than anything else. A mildly entertaining story that's more about the authors' politics than anything else.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Great hard sci fi with an excellent jab at the American educational system

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Was this trip really necessary? I sympathize with the mission of this book, but the authors could have used more finesse in telling their story. The authors could have made their point in a single two-page essay and I probably would have enjoyed it more. This book is not a good example of science fiction providing clever social commentary.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anita Byrne

    I got into this book more than most sci fi because the characters remind me of my neighbors here in the poor part of town, and the renters my company cleans up after.... People who are being used for unskilled labor because they are so poorly educated. The main character gets a second chance at life by being sent to an asteroid mining school. He is taught to read, and catches a vision of the importance of knowing math. Having struggled with math all my life, I really identified with his first bi I got into this book more than most sci fi because the characters remind me of my neighbors here in the poor part of town, and the renters my company cleans up after.... People who are being used for unskilled labor because they are so poorly educated. The main character gets a second chance at life by being sent to an asteroid mining school. He is taught to read, and catches a vision of the importance of knowing math. Having struggled with math all my life, I really identified with his first big mathematical breakthrough. I can't recommend this book because of bad language and general carnality, but as the character grows in vocabulary and self respect, he teaches himself to use cleaner language.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Sheffield, Charles, and Jerry Pournelle. Higher Education. Jupiter No. 1. Tor, 1996. In Higher Education, Sheffield and Pournelle channel early Heinlein juveniles (now YA) better than anyone ever has. Rick Luban is a smart kid who is not a good fit in a modern urban schoolroom. When a practical joke goes badly awry, he is given a chance to train to mine asteroids in a strict bootcamp environment. What elevates the book above most similar young adult science fiction is the attention to the science Sheffield, Charles, and Jerry Pournelle. Higher Education. Jupiter No. 1. Tor, 1996. In Higher Education, Sheffield and Pournelle channel early Heinlein juveniles (now YA) better than anyone ever has. Rick Luban is a smart kid who is not a good fit in a modern urban schoolroom. When a practical joke goes badly awry, he is given a chance to train to mine asteroids in a strict bootcamp environment. What elevates the book above most similar young adult science fiction is the attention to the science of asteroid mining that Sheffield and Pournelle bring to it. Would that more YA scifi writers would pay as much attention to the science in their novels. I last read this book in 2015, and it holds up well six years later. 4 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne Reyes

    Entertaining story especially for science, math and astrophysics majors with a solid message about the decline of the education system. The author points out how the entrenched bureaucratic school systems nationwide have lost any interest in the value of knowledge, discipline or self-evaluation. By chapter 16 I predicted one event that could have taken place and as I continued reading I discovered I was right. Glad to see the book had short chapters, a total of 19 chapters, with easy reading. Go Entertaining story especially for science, math and astrophysics majors with a solid message about the decline of the education system. The author points out how the entrenched bureaucratic school systems nationwide have lost any interest in the value of knowledge, discipline or self-evaluation. By chapter 16 I predicted one event that could have taken place and as I continued reading I discovered I was right. Glad to see the book had short chapters, a total of 19 chapters, with easy reading. Good to learn information about outer space, mining colonies, etc. I want to point out that the story provides interesting topics of conversation about the recent news regarding the possibility of Mars colonization, what it will entail, etc. Overall I recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides

    I first read this in 1997, and I remember really enjoying it. On re-read, it's all right. Deliberately Heinlein-esque, and it mostly carries it off. It also reminded me of Michael Flynn's Firestar series. But it avoided the whole Exposition Party thing, whereby there is so much telling the reader about things that it results in a doorstop-sized book. I put this on my YA shelf because I think it would be suitable for older teenagers. I think it was written to appeal to adults as well as this group I first read this in 1997, and I remember really enjoying it. On re-read, it's all right. Deliberately Heinlein-esque, and it mostly carries it off. It also reminded me of Michael Flynn's Firestar series. But it avoided the whole Exposition Party thing, whereby there is so much telling the reader about things that it results in a doorstop-sized book. I put this on my YA shelf because I think it would be suitable for older teenagers. I think it was written to appeal to adults as well as this group.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt Mazenauer

    A decent sci-fi story, the mining technology and deep space life were definitely interesting. However, it's all wrapped around what can only be described as a preachy treatise to the importance of education. This feels so much like it was designed to be handed to youths who were considering dropping out of high school. That being said, it wasn't as simple or silly as I expected, nor is it cribbing much from Ender's Game as I'd feared. All in all, it's a pretty straightforward short and mildly pr A decent sci-fi story, the mining technology and deep space life were definitely interesting. However, it's all wrapped around what can only be described as a preachy treatise to the importance of education. This feels so much like it was designed to be handed to youths who were considering dropping out of high school. That being said, it wasn't as simple or silly as I expected, nor is it cribbing much from Ender's Game as I'd feared. All in all, it's a pretty straightforward short and mildly predictable read that I cared about juuuust enough to try the next book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    D.L. Morrese

    I found this to be a better than average space adventure with an element of cultural satire about public education and rampant litigation. The plot unfolds a bit abruptly in places, and the characters are not exactly believable, and some of the conflict seems contrived mainly because one of the authors or editors thought the story needed constant conflict, but it's an interesting read for the science and the satire. I found this to be a better than average space adventure with an element of cultural satire about public education and rampant litigation. The plot unfolds a bit abruptly in places, and the characters are not exactly believable, and some of the conflict seems contrived mainly because one of the authors or editors thought the story needed constant conflict, but it's an interesting read for the science and the satire.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Valery

    Classic sci-fi with a good plot and a great twist. The description of the public education system, as well as society, is sickeningly accurate for our day and age. We are on the brink of total idiocy and Higher Education makes the situation absolutely plain. I didn't care for the language and such, but I'm the society portrayed, it is inevitable. For my clean readers: Contains language(minus the f-bomb), inappropriate scenes and innuendos, and violence. Classic sci-fi with a good plot and a great twist. The description of the public education system, as well as society, is sickeningly accurate for our day and age. We are on the brink of total idiocy and Higher Education makes the situation absolutely plain. I didn't care for the language and such, but I'm the society portrayed, it is inevitable. For my clean readers: Contains language(minus the f-bomb), inappropriate scenes and innuendos, and violence.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dodie Reed

    The first in the Series of "Jupiter" books. About a boy, kicked out of a do nothing education system and picked up by a mining company in the asteroid belt. He is put in a school to learn about everything he doesn't know and then some! Very enjoyable. The first in the Series of "Jupiter" books. About a boy, kicked out of a do nothing education system and picked up by a mining company in the asteroid belt. He is put in a school to learn about everything he doesn't know and then some! Very enjoyable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    I like the book quite a bit, and have read it several times. I read it this last time to see if it would be appropriate for my son (currently 6) and found some issues with language that will put it off for another two years or so.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beth Shearon

    Has more cussing in the first 36 pages than the last 30 books I read put together. O.O Plus "adult content". These things really ought to have a rating even if only just to give a person fair warning Has more cussing in the first 36 pages than the last 30 books I read put together. O.O Plus "adult content". These things really ought to have a rating even if only just to give a person fair warning

  29. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This is my favorite book from childhood.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Raja99

    Why I read this book: I'm a Sheffield fan, but more to the point, I started this a test of AirSharing as an eBook reader on my iPhone (half ;-). (Finished 2008-12-20 19:02EST) Why I read this book: I'm a Sheffield fan, but more to the point, I started this a test of AirSharing as an eBook reader on my iPhone (half ;-). (Finished 2008-12-20 19:02EST)

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