"Rite of Passage" by Alexei Panshin

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Diziet Sma, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have read about 75% and I agree with you,@kenubrion, that the main premise, in my opinion, is unsound. Ignoring that, Rite of Passage is a bildungsroman told in a very naïve and rather simplistic style. I'm afraid it is not my thing.
  2. Safari Bob

    Safari Bob Well-Known Member

    I hope this book didn't kill the Book Club and that there will be more Book Club threads in the future.
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  3. hrafnwasser

    hrafnwasser Well-Known Member

    I'd second that. -
    I feel a little like I chickened out - after saying I'd take part. I just don't have enough spare money to buy a book I might not enjoy at all.
  4. Tiran

    Tiran Well-Known Member

    I can only see 3 posts in this thread. Where is the rest of the thread with the Kenubrion passage that Sma quoted? I've seen this a couple of times on this forum and it leaves me scratching my head.
  5. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Definitely! We will just let @TomTB pick our next book...:)

    No worries!
    One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them. Iain. M. Banks, The Player of Games.

    Tiran, following Kenubrion's comment from the September thread, I have started this one so we can discuss the book in question and keep things a bit tidy.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I have finished off Rite of Passage, and I liked it a lot! I knew it was a juvenile novel going in, and I thought it was splendidly written. A young, 12-to-14 year old girl's voice, but very authentic, showing the various shades of her changing perspective + the potential of the unreliability of her narration, and a truly interesting lead-up to the actual trial. Actually, what I found most interesting was the lead-up to the trial with life aboard their generation ship and their pretty sophisticated yet ultimately somewhat stagnant society.

    I really liked Mia as well as Jimmy. Loved their exploration of ethics....from the stoics, the utilitarians, the 'might makes right' philosophy and the various strains of humanism. It suddenly all came together for Mia and the reader as the Trial ends and the final decision the ship's assembly makes.

    This might be the best juvenile science fiction novel I've actually read. I haven't read many of them - definitely haven't read any of the Heinleins - but I do remember enjoying the Jupiter novels as a teenager. But while those were straight up adventure stories, Rite of Passage has been a lot more subtle with respect to group dynamics, the exploration of 'social ethics', and the division between old ways of thinking and the new (which Mia and Jimmy represent) on board a ship with an advanced society that is nonetheless dependent on the more primitive planet bound societies for basic resources.

    Most of all, I liked Mia's voice, and I liked the changes that she goes through to become an 'adult' by 14. She felt like a real kid, but at that cusp of maturity. I thought Panshin handled her wonderfully, especially her inclination to contrariness when the mood struck her.
  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Okay, this is not a direct analogy by any means, but it did pop into my head as I was going through the book.

    The trial of Socrates. That's how the ship's assembly felt to me in some oblique way. And like Xenophon and Plato were disgusted by the verdict of the Athenians against their master and, thus, forswore the validity of democracy as a valid form of government, Mia's and Jimmy's experiences brings them completely at odds with the reigning status quo on the ship regarding the relationship between their types of societies that sail the void between stars and those that are planet-bound. I see them as the future movers and shakers of their world, especially Jimmy, and they represent a turning point of opinion in how this relationship should be managed.
  8. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    @Boreas, I’m glad you liked it. I wasn’t aware RoP was a juvenile story when I began reading it. I have hardly read middle-grade books even when I was one myself so I don’t particularly tend to enjoy nor to connect with these type of adventures. Shame…

    Well, it is an interesting point and thinking about it I can see how Mia and Jimmy grew to accept that, in an oblique way, they were neither certain nor indifferent of their judgment about the Tinterans because the ability to tell right from wrong lies in people reason’s and not in society.
  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    But I still think they were partially removed from it. Likely because of their limited experience, and like Mia says, her world opened up to include the 'mudeaters' as human only recently, even though she still thinks of them as inferior to shipboard societies. And while she is sad, I think her judgement on the wrongness of the decision is more cerebral than intensely felt; it's something to be worked on for the future.

    Too bad you didn't enjoy it. Was it just the fact that it was written from a child's perspective that you didn't like? Except for The Call of the Wild or A Separate Peace or the Narnia novels or The Secret Garden and a few more that I can't immediately recall, I never read much juvenile fiction, either. I'm appreciating them more as I grow older.
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Indeed. This is what I meant when I said they were neither certain nor indifferent. They were just beginning to question their societal values because of their personal experiences; i.e their ability to reason independently.

    I’m not sure, to be honest with you. I don't mind at all reading about young characters or reading from the point of view of one. I just found it to be a cute story but a disengaging one, simplistic in a way.
    Anvil of Stars by G. Bear is about children and narrated from the children's point of view, but it wasn’t juvenile in any way. I loved that book.
    In RoP, the problem for me lies maybe in its scope, depth, those missing details...

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