SF Masterwork of the Week: DOUBLE STAR

Robert A. Heinlein – ‘the Dean of science fiction’ – won an impressive four Hugo Awards for Best Novel. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress won in 1967; his best-known books, Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land, in 1960 and ’62, respectively; but the first to pick up the coveted rocket-shaped trophy was Double Star.

If a man walks in dressed like a hick and acting as if he owned the place, he’s a spaceman.

One minute, down-and-out actor Lorenzo Smythe was – as usual – in a bar, drinking away his troubles as he watched his career go down the tubes. Then a space pilot bought him a drink, and the next thing Smythe knew, he was shanghaied to Mars.

Suddenly he found himself agreeing to the most difficult role of his career: impersonating an important politician who had been kidnapped. Peace with the Martians was at stake – failure to pull off the act could result in interplanetary war. And Smythe’s own life was on the line – for if he wasn’t assassinated, there was always the possibility that he might be trapped in his new role forever!


Introduced with customary wit and perspicacity by the wonderful BSFA Award-winning author Ken MacLeod, Double Star is available as an SF Masterworks paperback and an SF Gateway eBook.

You can read more about Robert A. Heinlein and Ken MacLeod in their entries in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.