Dec 18

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Have Space Suit — Will Travel: My Extended Ending

If you know me very well, or don’t know me at all but have been reading my blog, you’ll know that Robert Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel is one of my all-time favorite novels.  The space adventure is fine, and I admire the technical precision, but what truly endears it to my heart is the deepening and loving relationship between Kip and Peewee.  There are scenes that eke tears from my lachrymals every single time I read it.

Although the novel’s ending did make it clear that their friendship was far from over, it still struck me as unsatisfyingly closed-ended.  I wanted a little more, and every time I read it, I have that same feeling.  And I wanted to see Ace slapped down a little more than just a malt in his face.  So, having been identifiably a writer since the age of ten, ideas have circulated and bred in my mind as to how it could have ended.  The following scene is the one that has crystallized most prominently.  Be aware that if you haven’t read the novel, my efforts here will be largely wasted.

So, trying to emulate Heinlein’s style, and starting with the last sentence that he wrote…

I threw it in his face.

He sat there for a moment, more in astonishment than anger, then began muttering something that sounded like, “Blub, blub, blub….”  After what I’d been through on the far side of the atmosphere, a thing like Ace Quiggle didn’t have the power to intimidate me.

“Doc. Charton!” he finally shouted.  “Did you see that?”

“I certainly did.”  For a second, I thought I might be in trouble, but it would be worth it.  To my surprise, Mr. Charton added, “Clumsiest bit of drinking I’ve ever seen.  A five-year-old can handle a malt better than that.”  He tossed Ace a towel.  “Here.  Clean up your mess.  That’ll be 35 cents.”

“But, but….”

Ace’s protests were swallowed by a wave of sudden commotion outside.  People were pointing, shouting and running, but not pointing in the direction they were running. They were pointing toward the sky, and it wasn’t the Fourth of July.  Inside, Mrs. Jenkins dropped her purse.

“What the….” Mr. Charton got out of his mouth.

Then I saw it, and my stomach turned inside out.  I never thought I’d see one of those things again.  It was a wormface ship, coming down smack dab in the middle of the intersection, bringing traffic to a halt.  All those horrible times I’d faced those monsters rushed through my brain like a movie running too fast, and the idea of staring into those hideous eyes again just about numbed me.  I supposed there had to be a few of the things still running around the galaxy, but the ship didn’t act like a wormface was at the controls.  It wavered clumsily, its pilot apparently trying to avoid bringing down either the telephone lines or the big sign in front of Centerville Cinema, neither of which a genuine wormface would have given a pea for.

But when the landing ramp finally extended and that spindly figure ran down it in her ubiquitous wardrobe of shorts, T-shirt, and tennis shoes, with Madame Pompadour dangling from her hand, a grin spread across my face like a Skyway Soap rainbow.  Sure, we had telephones, but not having the runt around had made the last few weeks sadly barren.

She exploded through the door.  “Kip!  Kip!”

“Peewee!  What’s wrong?” I  could tell from her face that something was; I think I know all 340 of her expressions.

Her hair might have grown a fraction of an inch since I’d seen her last, but she still looked remarkably boyish.  As soon as she reached me, she threw her arms around me in the best bear hug she could muster, and when she had it out of her system, grabbed my arm and tugged.

“Come on!  I stopped at your house on the way and they told me where to find you.  I picked up Oscar, since I know how much you love that old rag.”

“Old rag!”  I was aghast.  “That old rag saved both our skins on the moon and on Pluto, I’ll have you remember.  I don’t talk about Madame Pompadour that way.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Kip!  I know.  Oscar’s great!  But come on.”

“And what are you doing in a wormface ship, anyway?”

“The Mother Thing gave it to me, because, you know, I already know how to fly them.  Come on!  She needs us!”

Ace was staring stupidly, which was probably the only way he knew to stare.

“You’re piloting alien spaceships again?” I asked her, not sure where to go with my questions.  Peewee could do that to a person.  “The Mother Thing is here?”

“No, not anymore.  Somewhere on the other side of the galaxy by now.  But we have to meet her on Ganymede, and it’ll take us … oh … days to get there.  I haven’t calculated the trajectory yet.  I’ve got loads of real food packed, not like last time.  And a Parcheesi game so we’ll have something to do.  Do you like Parcheesi?”

“What on earth is all this about, Peewee?”

Wormface Ship Over Ganymede

“It’s not on Earth, silly.  There’s some trouble on Jupiter’s moons and out around Arcturus.  I’m not sure what it’s about yet, but it involves us somehow.  The Mother Thing says it’s really important!”


“Don’t worry.  Daddy has M.I.T. covered for you in case this takes longer than we think.”

“So your parents are willing you let you run off into the depths of space with me again? After thinking you were dead the last time?”

Mrs. Jenkins, having recovered her purse and having been listening in, finally asked Peewee, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

An outraged girl glared at her and dangled Madame Pompadour threateningly in her face.  But she turned right back to me to answer the question as if she hadn’t been disturbed.

“Oh, mom’s fit to be tied, but dad says that if the galaxy needs us, the galaxy needs us, and could we please get some clarification on antigravity?  And he said he couldn’t think of anyone he’d rather have me running around space with.  Your dad said the same thing.  They talk all the time, you know, like they’re plotting something.  So are you coming?”

Nothing thrilled me more than the idea of going off with her on an adventure again, though Peewee was an adventure enough all by herself.

“I, uh….”  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I glanced at Mr. Charton.

He nodded toward the door.  “Go ahead, kid.  Your job will be here when you’re finished saving the world.  Or the universe, whichever it is.”

“Gee, thanks, Mr. Charton!  I won’t forget it!”

I’d had a hunch all along that he had a hunch what sort of things had really happened while I had been gone.

I left my apron on the counter, and as I let Peewee lead me away by the hand, I heard Mr. Charton say, “Close your mouth, Ace!  And clean up your mess!”

Well, after writing this post, I have a compulsion to read the book again. Not to worry; it is a permanent denizen of my Kindle.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.duanevore.com/have-space-suit-will-travel-my-extended-ending/


  1. Duane

    OK. I can’t stand it. My apologies. I’m going to redo that image. Not only is Jupiter just not spectacular enough, that poor excuse for a Wormface ship is absolutely embarrassing. I modeled it in 5 or 10 minutes, thinking it wouldn’t really matter. But it does. It’s tacky, and not even an oblate spheroid. Peewee would be all over my case!

  2. Duane

    OK, that’s better! The poor excuse for an image that I foisted upon an unsuspecting public a couple of days ago was an insult to fans and an embarrassment to me. This is more the wormface ship that 11-year-old Peewee stole from an alien base on the moon and flew back to Earth. At least this one is an oblate spheroid.

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