Read Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin Online


In 2198 man lives precariously on hastily-established colony worlds and in seven giant starships. Mia Haveros ship tests its children by casting them out to live or die in a month of Trial in the hostile wilds of a colony world. Her trial is fast approaching and she must learn not only the skills that will keep her alive but the deeper courage to face herself and her worldIn 2198 man lives precariously on hastily-established colony worlds and in seven giant starships. Mia Haveros ship tests its children by casting them out to live or die in a month of Trial in the hostile wilds of a colony world. Her trial is fast approaching and she must learn not only the skills that will keep her alive but the deeper courage to face herself and her world....

Title : Rite of Passage
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ISBN : 6250518
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 254 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Rite of Passage Reviews

  • Algernon
    2019-02-23 10:10

    [7/10]Somebody quiped this is the best juvenile that Heinlein never wrote. In her excellent review of the Panshin novel [jo Walton], Jo Walton argues that the author's goal was more subversive than paying homage to the grandmaster of science-fiction, a point sustained by the known critical disagreement between the two. I have read literally hundreds of coming of age stories, most of them fantasy or SF, which might explain my lower rating for what is arguably one of the least conventional and better written of the lot. The setting: Earth has been completely destroyed in a global conflagration in the 21st century. The survivors scattered through the galaxy in hastily built multigenerational spaceships. Some of them settled on planets, where they struggled hard to make them habitable and to produce enough food to survive, leaving too little time for education and leisure. A minority remained in the spaceships, avoiding overpopulation through strict birth control, preserving the advanced technology of Earth and trading this knowledge with the colonists in exchange for essential raw materials. In the absence of real life challenges inside the carefully controled and regulated environment of the Ships, all young people reaching the age of 14 are sent on a 30 day Trial down to one of the planets, there to survive only by their wits and skills. Not everybody survives the initiation ritual, but the ones who return safely are considered adults with full rights in the society.The hero(ine): Mia Havero is the narrator of the novel, in an extended flashback, starting with her tomboy phase at age 12, following through her two years advanced education and survival training, her Trial and its aftermath. She is a wonderful guide through the Ship's world, spunky and witty, "a reluctant daredevil" with a passion for old-fashioned sF stories and a carefully masked streak of loneliness and insecurity. In her own words she is "a little black-haired, black-eyed girl, short, small, and without even the promise of a figure". Much as I liked Mia and her tribulations adapting to a new school, new friends, new ideas and new responsibilities, I sometimes felt her character is a bit too good to be true. Like the kids from a TV series I used to watch (Dawson Creek) she seems written by a parent who puts down how he would like his offspring to talk and to learn from mistakes. Real teenagers, from my experience, are a lot more anarchic and authority flouting, less focused on growing up and more self-centered than Mia. This is not to say she is tame, or well mannered, just a tad too didactic and well organized for a 12-14 y.o.Things I liked best about the story:* fables and parables used in the text as a learning tool, storytelling in its more pure and effective guise, including the riddle games so beloved by Tolkien and a tongue-in-cheek approach to classic quests to slay the ogre and win the hand of the princess in marriage.* a project Mia has to write about ethics, where she studies "Epicureans and Utilitarians; Stoics; Power Philosophers, both sophisticated and unsophisticated; and humanists of several stripes. All these not to mention various religious ethical systems." She balances the strengths and shortcomings of each system, and later sees how they apply to real life conflicts during her Trial. Again, it is done by Panshin in an over-simplified and didactic manner, but it is still very effective. Example: The trouble with stoicism, it seems to me, is that it is a soporific. It affirms the status quo and thereby puts an end to all ambition, all change. It says, as Christianity did a thousand years ago, that kings should be kings and slaves should be slaves, and it seems to me that it is a philosophy infinitely more attractive to he king than to the slave. * Mia's "reluctant daredevil" atitude, her "Hell on Wheels", "The Compleat Young Girl" sarcastic persona, always ready to mock her own fears and honestly admit her faux pas. Favorite episode is her participation in an illegal sortie outside the Ship, in the company of her friends from the Survival Class. I had never realized before that adventures took so much 'doing', so much preparation and so much cleaning up afterward. That's something you don't see in stories. Who buys the food and cooks it, washes the dishes, minds the baby, rubs down the horses, swabs out the guns, buries the bodies, mends the clothes, ties the rope in place so the hero can conveniently find it there to swing from, blows fanfares, polishes medals, and dies beautifully, all so that the hero can 'be' a hero? Who finances him? I'm not saying I don't believe in heroes - I'm just saying that they are either parasites or they spend the bulk of their time in making their little adventures possible, not in enjoying them. Other pearls of wisdom from Miss Havero: There is nothing like hunting a tiger almost barehanded to give you a feeling of real confidence in yourself. If you manage to survive the experience. * the general pacing and the length of the novel : a fast and entertaining read that kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.* finally, I really appreciated how the comic elements and the light headed spirit of a fun adventure a replaced later in the novel by the real issues Mia will have to deal with as an adult: intolerance, xenophobia, death, free will versus predetermination, the individuall versus the political, and more. This is where Jo Walton draws our attention that becoming an adult is not equal to saving the planet from an alien invasion in a blaze of spectacular explosions and other special effects, but looking inside yourself and finding the strength to change what is wrong with your society instead of accepting the status quo. Here are my favorite quotes from this later phase in the novel: I've always wondered what it would be like to be a spear carrier in somebody else's story. A spear carrier is somebody who stands in the hall when Caesar passes, comes to attention, and thumps his spear. A spear carrier is the anonymous character cut down by the hero as he advances to save the menaced heroine. A spear carrier is a character put in a story to be used like a piece of disposable tissue. In a story, spear carriers never suddenly assert themselves by throwing their spears aside and saying, "I resign. I don't want to be used." They are here to be used, either for atmosphere or as minor obstacles in the path of the hero. The trouble is that each of us is his own hero, existing in a world of spear carriers. We take no joy in being used and discarded. I was finding then, that wet, chilly, unhappy night, that I took no joy in seeing other people used and discarded. --- If I had the opportunity, I would make the proposal that no man should be killed except by somebody who knows him well enough for the act to have impact. No death should be like nose blowing. Death is important enough that it should affect the person who causes it. --- I can think of nothing sadder than to know that you might be more than you are, but be unwilling to make the effort. --- Maturity is the ability to sort the portions of truth from the accepted lies and self-deceptions that you have grown up with. Recommended for readers who are not yet fed up with coming of age stories and who appreciate classic SF.

  • Manny
    2019-02-26 04:57

    The plot of this rather fine coming-of-age SF novel is described well in several of the other reviews. Oddly enough, no one seems to mention that it is constructed around Shakespeare's Sonnet 94, which appears on the last page. Since the poem isn't nearly as well-known as it deserves to be, and it's one of my favorites, let me reproduce it here:They that have power to hurt and will do none,That do not do the thing they most do show,Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,They rightly do inherit heaven's gracesAnd husband nature's riches from expense;They are the lords and owners of their faces,Others but stewards of their excellence.The summer's flower is to the summer sweet,Though to itself it only live and die,But if that flower with base infection meet,The basest weed outbraves his dignity:For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

  • David
    2019-03-11 09:21

    I'm not sure why this book has stuck with me so long -- I read it over 20 years ago. But it was one of the most memorable early-Heinlein-era sci-fi stories I ever read. The story is somewhat reminiscent of Heinlein, though the writing is not. The social issues raised in this novel are still compelling, though rather dated now, but I imagine it was even more relevant when it was first published.I really liked the main character, who was quite believable as a rather privileged teenage girl suddenly forced to grow up. One thing to note: the covers all depict her as a white girl, but in the book, she's described as having dark skin. Not surprising for when it was published (1968), but you'd think at some point someone would have gotten a clue and released a more contemporary cover.Reread: August 2012If I was reading this for the first time, I'd probably only give it 4 stars, as it's quite good but probably wouldn't have made my list of "favorites." However, the story has stuck with me all these years, enough that it did become one of those rare books I reread, so it keeps its 5 stars.Notable to me on this reread is that it's aged pretty well. As with most classic SF, the 21st century reader is likely to notice that this 22nd century starship has less advanced information and communications technology than we have today, but hardly any sci-fi authors wrote futuristic technology 40 years ago that looks plausible today. Other than that, though, it's a work of thoughtful science fiction that's more about the people and the consequences of a society split into people living on Ships and "Colons" (or "Mudeaters" as the Ship people call them) spread across the stars. Most of all, it's a bildungsroman about Mia Havero, who is a spunky, intelligent, and basically decent but very prejudiced and sometimes pig-headed adolescent. She grows throughout the book, and the planetary adventure at the end is indeed a suitable rite of passage for her. The ending still disturbs me in the same way it did years ago, which I think was Panshin's intent.This is a great classic which really should be better known. If you have ever enjoyed Heinlein's juveniles, or you like what usually gets marketed as "Young Adult" today if it's not some stupid girl-in-a-prom-dress paranormal romance but an actual YA protagonist who thinks meaningful thoughts and makes meaningful choices, I highly recommend it. I am resisting the temptation to shelve this as Young Adult because it wasn't written as a YA novel, but really, it's got a voice and a writing style that should appeal equally to YA and adult readers.

  • Steven
    2019-02-20 09:17

    "That's something you don't see in stories. Who buys the food and cooks it, washes the dishes, minds the baby, rubs down the horses, swabs out the guns, buries the bodies, mends the clothes, ties that rope in place so the hero can conveniently find it there to swing from, blows fanfares, polishes medals, and dies beautifully, all so that the hero can BE a hero? Who finances him? I'm not saying I don't believe in heroes--I'm just saying that they are either parasites or they spend the bulk of their time in making their little adventures possible, not in enjoying them."I love this book dearly. To me, it's everything I liked about Downbelow Station and Ender's Game, but without the tedium of Cherryh's book, and without the fearful national security mentality of Card's. This story is exciting and hopeful to anyone who has been moved to improve the times they live in, and true to the experience of growing up.It seems everyone's read Ender's Game, but how many have actually read Rite of Passage? Because I think the comparisons scream to be made, I wanna say this about two stories about young kids in extraordinary SF circumstances, just trying to survive: I'd pick Mia Havero and Jimmy Dentremont over Ender to be on my soccer team; I'd take the advice of Mister Mbele over that of Graff's any day; I learned more from Mia's universal education than from anything they taught in battle school, and I'm sure I'd take Shakespeare's Sonnet XCIV over the whole Yancy Street gang.Sometimes it's not about being the one who survives--it's about being the one who's humane. And sometimes it's not about saving the human race--it's about preserving the race's humanity."It is harder to assess critically the insanities of your own time, especially if you have accepted them unquestionably for as long as you can remember, for as long as you have been alive. If you never make the attempt, whatever else you are, you are not mature...I knew long ago that the ability to do something doesn't necessarily give you the right to do it--that's the old power philosophy, and I never liked it. We might be able to discipline Tintera but who appointed us to the job? We were doing it anyway and there was no one to stop us, but we were wrong."

  • Özgür
    2019-02-26 08:19

    "Olgunluk, içinde büyüdüğünüz, kabul edilmiş yalanlar ve kendini kandırmalardan ortaya çıkan gerçeğin parçalarını sınıflandırma yeteneğidir.""Her zaman başka birinin hikâyesinde mızrakçı olmanın ne demek olduğunu düşündüm. Bir mızrakçı, koridorda durup Sezar geçerken hazırola geçip mızrağını yere vuran kişidir. Mızrakçı tehdit altındaki dişi kahramanı kurtarmak için ilerleyen kahramanın doğradığı isimsiz karakterdir. Mızrakçı, hikâyeye atılabilecek bir kâğıt mendil gibi kullanılmak için konmuş bir karakterdir. Bir hikâyede bir mızrakçı, asla birden mızrağını bir kenara atıp, "İstifa ettim. Kullanılmak istemiyorum," demez. Onlar ya atmosfer ya da kahramanın yolundaki ufak engel olarak kullanılmak için oradadırlar, işin kötüsü herkes bir mızrakçılar dünyasında yaşayan kendi kahramanıdır. Biz kullanılıp atılmaktan hiçbir zevk almayız.""Elimde olsaydı, yalnızca birbirini iyi tanıyan insanlar birbirlerini öldürebilmeli diye bir öneri getirirdim. Hiçbir ölüm burun silmek gibi olmamalı. Ölüm ona neden olanı etkilemesi gerekecek kadar önemli bir şey."

  • Catie
    2019-03-19 04:27

    This is a very thought provoking book about a young girl's mental awakening. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic society existing on a ship that has been hollowed out of an asteroid. In this universe, Earth has been destroyed and humans are either existing on these ships or eking out a living on dangerous and mostly uninhabitable planets. The ship dwellers, faced with high population pressure, devise a test for every fourteen year old. Each adolescent is sent to one of these planets for a month with limited supplies and is challenged to survive. As the story progresses, the main character approaches her 14th birthday and must face this life or death challenge.I really enjoyed this book. There are great lessons here about prejudice and coming of age. Highly recommend!

  • Stephen
    2019-02-21 04:25

    3.5 stars. This is an really good novel (and, amazingly enough, this was Panshin's first novel). It is a classic coming of age story that is very well written, thought-provoking and has very good world-building (I really liked the interplay between the "Ships" and the "colonies"). Unlike some "SF classics" I was never bored with this one and it held my interest throughout. RECOMMENDED!!Winner: Nebula Award Best Science Fiction NovelNominee: Hugo Award Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Bryan Alexander
    2019-03-18 07:24

    A very pleasant young adult novel wrapped in science fiction critique.Like a classic YA story, we follow a protagonist (Mia Havero) as she moves through adolescence towards adulthood. She meets various challenges, struggles with family and love, then grows up.It's also a recognizable science fiction world. We have a generation ship filled with advanced humans who ply the starways. The setting also includes a space opera framework, with a destroyed Earth and low-technology colony planets.It's a rich text to think about in terms of science fiction history, especially given the period of its composition. The novel is definitely a response to Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky, a 1960s liberal revision with progressive attitudes towards child-reading, pedagogy, sexuality, and family structure. The devastating finale echoes another Heinlein book, Have Spacesuit Will Travel.About the ending: (view spoiler)[the climax is nearly dystopian, as the Ship agrees to destroy a planet of humans. Mia contributes to this process, and fails to stop it. She ends with no power, and her father triumphant. Maybe Mia and her boyfriend will be able to change society later on, but not in this book. (hide spoiler)]

  • Timothy Mayer
    2019-02-24 06:17

    Alexi and Cory Panshin wrote one of the best histories of early science fiction, The World Beyond the Hill, in 1989. I found the book at a bookstore in Wichita, Ks when I lived there in the early 90's and read it cover-to-cover in one sitting. So it was a surprise to me when I found this neat little book at Indian Path Books a few weeks ago. Needless to say, it ended up in my "To read" pile.Winner of the 1968 Nebula award, Rite of Passage shows the influence of the dean of American science fiction, Robert Heinlein. I note that Mr. Panshin lives nearby in Quakertown, PA. He also lists Harper Lee as an influence on the novel, which anyone familiar with To Kill a Mockingbird will understand.The novel follows several years in the life of Mia Havero, who lives on a massive interstellar star ship nearly two hundred years in the future. Obviously there was a huge advancement in technology from the present since the first of the interstellar ships was completed in 2041. Sometime afterwards, a series of wars, brought on by overpopulation, led to the destruction of Earth. Fortunately, a number of other planets outside our solar system had been colonized, so humanity was able to survive. The ship in which Mia lives was made by hollowing out an asteroid. It was built to haul colonists across the galaxy, but the scientists and engineers piloting the ship decided to stay on board after the last colonists were delivered.Told from the viewpoint an older Mia, the story begins with her moving out of one quadrant of the ship into another at the age of twelve. Her parents having split up, Mia is raised by her father, who has a prominent position in the ship's society. She yearns to be a "synthesist", a person who has accumulated a general, but expansive, amount of knowledge. Her best friend Jimmy, also twelve, wants to be a ordinologist, or classifier of information.There is one small hurdle they with both have to overcome: The Trial. At age fourteen, after extensive survival training, all children are dropped off the ship at the nearest inhabitable planet. They are expected to survive on their own for one month. At the end of a month, they are picked up. If they manage to survive on their own, the child is now considered an adult and welcomed in the ship's community with all rights and responsibilities. There are no exceptions.Much of the book leading up to The Trial consists of Mia's recollections of her interactions with other kids and daily life on the ship. She spends a lot of time reading up on ethics at the encouragement of her tutor, Mr. Mbele. She also learns how to ride a horse, since the kids are dropped on primitive planets with them for transportation.Because of resource limitations, the population of the ship is strictly controlled. Families seldom have more than one or two children. One of the source of disgust is the colonial planets, whom the ship trades information and knowledge with to get needed raw materials. The ship people refer to the colonists as "mudeaters" who practice primitive "free birth". The ship itself has a eugenicists who approves and encourages birthing based on genetic records.The final test of Mia's class before undergoing The Trial is a tiger hunt. A group of kids are sent out into a wilderness park with their adult survival instructor in pursuit of a full grown tiger. When they do encounter the tiger, they have to kill it using only the knives they carry and whatever rocks can be found. Amazingly, they do it with few injuries. It's Panshin's credit as a writer that he can make this passage so believable.Mia is finally dropped with her class on a planet known as Tintera. There has been little contact with the planet since it was colonized a 150 years previously. The kids split-up, Mia deciding to spend her month on Trial exploring the planet.What she encounters is a society similar in technology and organization to what the United States knew at the Civil War. She manages to confront a band of ruffians on horseback before getting bushwhacked. Mia's nursed back to health by an old man named Kutsov who lives alone. She learns enough about the society where she's been dropped to rescue her best friend Jimmy from a territorial prison. They both manage to hide out in the woods until the month has passed and the pick-up ship arrives.Half of her trial class never make it back to the ship. After hearings are held in the ship's assembly, the citizens decide to punish the inhabitants of Tintera in the worst way possible. I won't spoil the ending of the book for those who want to read it. But I will say the over riding message is how the worst deeds can be justified by the best intentions. Consider Crime and Punishment: it's remarkably simple to justify killing an old woman.Rite of Passage shows the mark of the time in which it was written. Panshin assumes it would be easy to organize a self-contained society with few internal problems. But this is a minor point. It's a landmark book which needs to be read.

  • Matt
    2019-03-02 09:20

    'Rite of Passage' is one of science fiction's more overlooked and lesser known masterpeices. Really, they did know what they were doing when they gave this book a Nebula award. I think one of the reasons it hasn't maintained the enduring audience of some of other classics from the golden era is that it is a book that suffers from having an uncomfortable relationship with any of its potential readers. On the one hand, adult readers may be put off by a book which appears at first in both its language and ambitions to be little more than reutine young adult fiction in an exotic setting. On the other hand, younger readers may find the book ultimately dark, disturbing, unsettling, and at times too graphic. (Adult readers who have finished the book are probably similarly unwilling to put the book in the hands of their children.)For my part, I think pretty much everyone is rewarded for pushing through the difficulties. This is a great book that I find myself chewing over in my head time and time again, and repeatedly drawing on for insight. Having become a parent has only deepened my appreciation for the subtleties of the book.To begin with, it is a great coming of age story. Refreshingly it has a young complex female protagonist - far different from the sort of simple boy-men that typically populate SF coming of age stories. Likewise, this a character that truly comes of age in every way that it is possible to come of age, which I find incredibly appealing compared to the typical 'how I learned calculus and 20 other ways to kill' of more boyish SF. Not that our heroine doesn't learn calculus or... but that might be giving too much away. On that level alone, 'Rite of Passage' has much to recommend itself. But I'm also repeatedly struck by the insight Panshin shows into humanity and human social structure. Ultimately, this is book about the value of life, about the value of living well, and about what really makes an adult.I highly recommend this novel. Especially in a time when adults are embrassing young adult fiction, its time to reexamine this little gem.

  • Kiwi Begs2Differ✎
    2019-03-11 09:07

    I enjoyed the first two parts of this book, especially the discussions on population and power ethics and the bartering of technology, however the third part - The trial – was a disappointment(view spoiler)[: the adventure resembled a Western rather than Sci-fi and I didn’t like the fact that sex between kids just turned 14 was treated so casually (hide spoiler)]. 2 ½ stars

  • Althea Ann
    2019-03-14 10:06

    This brings me up to 89% done with Reading The Nebula Award Winners.I'm really sorry I somehow missed reading this book when I was a kid. I would have loved it when I was a pre-teen. As it was, I liked it, but it's very definitely a coming of age story with an Introduction to Ethics woven in.

  • Paul Baker
    2019-03-15 07:19

    Spoiler Alert!Rite of Passage is an easy book to pigeon-hole as a "coming of age" novel, but to do so would be a mistake and a disservice to this excellent little science fiction novel that steps beyond the genre.The book is written first person past through the eyes of the central character, Mia Havero, looking back at herself from the ages of twelve through fourteen. She is the daughter of the elected leader of a group of scientists and engineers who live on a spaceship at the end of the twenty-second century.Through internal strife, Earth has essentially destroyed itself. The ships were created to ferry passengers from Earth to new worlds that they might colonize to continue the existence of humanity. But the ships' leaders have made a conscious decision to separate themselves - and their knowledge and expertise - from the farmers who are actually carving out the new worlds. These elitists decided that the knowledge they possess would be useless on worlds barely hanging on for survival, that the knowledge would be lost if they joined in that fight for survival, so they stay on their ships and merely trade bits of knowledge to the farmers ("Mudeaters" they are called) for supplies.Mia herself, after being separated from her parents for years, recently left the common dormitories to live with her father. She is a precarious character at the beginning, having suffered from her separation, nervous to a fault around others, and easily frightened. At the beginning of the novel, her father is moving them to a different part of the ship and she is losing her tenuous hold on security.But she begins her new existence by being teamed with a boy named Jimmy Dermently, precocious and just a few months older. They are assigned a tutor who is very old and who has been an opponent of Mia's father. He teaches them to think outside the box and they both jump at the chance. Their major line of study becomes ethics and that leads to the central crisis of the novel.How nice it is to have an entire novel based around a major ethical crisis.During the next two years Mia and Jimmy educate themselves and prepare for the Trial that they must endure when they turn fourteen years old. The Trial is a survival ordeal that all juveniles on the ship must undergo to reach adulthood. They are dropped individually onto a planet's surface, supplied with a horse, a gun, a knife and a tent and they must survive for thirty days until they are picked up. Many do not survive the "savagery" of the Mudeaters.As Mia gains confidence through her survival training, she also studies the great philosophies of Earth’s past, picking each one apart, finding things that she can relate to and ideas that she must outright reject. She is forced to think and to make a major decision that will separate her from her family permanently. It is this part of the novel that it seems many critics completely ignore. But Panshin had some big ideas when he wrote this book and I think it is important that I share at least some of Mia’s thoughts:“I’ve always resented the word maturity, primarily, I think, because it is most often used as a club. If you do something that someone doesn’t like, you lack maturity, regardless of the actual merits of your action. Too, it seems to me that what is most often called maturity is nothing more than disengagement from life [my emphasis]. If you meet life squarely, you are likely to make mistakes, do things you wish you hadn’t, say things you wish you could retract or phrase more felicitously, and, in short, fumble your way along. Those “mature” people whose lives are even without a single sour note or a single mistake, who never fumble, manage only at the cost of original thought and original action.”To readers more accustomed to slam-bang action (which is, I think, a major pitfall in the writing of science fiction), this book may appear slow and way too thoughtful for them. What is mature deliberation is mistaken for plodding and a reader can miss all of the salient points that the novel is meticulously honing.When a novel wins the coveted Nebula Award and is nominated for the Hugo, it usually means there is something very, very good about the book. I have now had the opportunity to read many reviews of this novel and most of them are frankly superficial and miss the point of the novel. But this is a fine little book, filled with the inner life of a fully realized character struggling to attain confidence and finding it at the point of a knife called ethics.(As a side note, I read the Timscape paperback by Pocket Books, March 1982, with a terrific cover painting by acclaimed illustrator Rowena Morrill. It captures the absolute essence of Miva Havero, especially in the eyes and the wary set of her face. Great cover art can really help a book to come alive!)As I said at the beginning of this review, it is a mistake to pigeon-hole this book. It is a much larger and more challenging novel. I strongly recommend Rite of Passage, not just to science fiction readers, but to the general reading audience.

  • Jan Priddy
    2019-03-10 08:02

    Panshin's novel is a coming of age science fiction novel which won the Nebula and was a close second for the Hugo. It is one of my all-time favorites and I have read it many times, including reading it aloud to my sons when they were children. I just read it again and find it highly relevant. Here is a tiny slice of why I love this book, and why I grieve each time I read it: "I've always wondered what it would be like to be a spear carrier in somebody else's story. A spear carrier is somebody who stand in the hall when Caesar passes, comes to attention and thumps his spear. A spear carrier is the anonymous characters cut down by the hero as he advances to save the menaced heroine. A spear carrier is a character put in a story to be used like a piece of disposable tissue. . . . The trouble is that each of us is his own hero, existing in a world of spear carriers. We take no joy in being used and discarded. . . . No death should be like nose blowing. Death is important enough that it should affect the person who causes it." At the beginning, Mia Havero is 12, smart, curious, but afraid of change, and in fear she is hostile to difference. She lives on a former generation ship that has been converted to use by the descendants of the scientists and other intellectual elites who escaped Earth and carried people to populates planets. Generations later, the Ship society requires all children to pass a literal rite of passage—at age 14 all children, including Mia are dumped on a strange planet, alone, and with limited resources. If she survives 30 days to set off her beacon, she's a citizen. If not, no one will come looking for her. That's the plot. But she's studying ethics, reasoning through her prejudices, and trying to understand what matters in life. Initially, Mia is narrow in her thinking, but gradually she comes to understand to care about and respect other people. (Roger Zelazny's blurb calls the main character "at that age when girls are most beautiful and pathetic." His words say nothing useful about the novel, but perhaps something unpleasant about Zelazny. Despite the author's unfortunate lack of notable female characters, Mia herself is never pathetic and is a fully *human* being.) I recognized myself in this story when I first read it as a teenager between terms at the UW. Since then I've read it 8 or 10 times, maybe, and even taught it. Despite minor errors and flaws, I still love it. Overpopulation is a major issue and the trigger for Mia’s circumstances, but social justice and fear of the"other" make it an excellent study as we grow beyond 8 billion people on this planet, more than double what it was when I read it the first time, and nearly the number Panshin cites as the trigger of our planet's destruction. There are many covers. The one above is my favorite. It should be obvious from her name, not to mention her description on the first page, that Mia Havero is dark-skinned with black hair and eyes, but most illustrations give her green or blue eyes and often blond hair. I used the various editions as a dramatic demonstration of the inaccuracy of cover illustrations. At one time I owned 30 copies of the novel and I have taught it. At least two of my former students now teach this novel themselves and I wonder if they are rediscovering the wisdom of this story as we face a world increasingly divided between those who have and those they fear..

  • Cindywho
    2019-02-22 11:19

    Dated SF published in 1968. It's one of those books that's entertaining in how it reflects its own time more than the future it's describing, though with a few surprises, including a disturbing ending. It's a bit over-explanatory and preachy, but a good adventure most of the time. (November 19, 2006)

  • Kit
    2019-03-11 09:12

    If I had read this book when I was growing up, it would have ended up shelved next to Julie of the Wolves, A Wrinkle in Time, Call of the Wild, and Robot Dreams and fully earned its place.I must begin this review with the honest disclosure that my curiosity regarding reading it was entirely spurred by my unfortunate association with one Tobiah Panshin, mutant Russian gremlin and general beard-carrying spawn of the author. This may have colored my perception slightly, but more than this, I wanted to read his work because of his associations of being (seemingly) one of the only people that thinks it is okay to not accept everything Heinlein writes as gospel and look at how he writes with a critical eye, which is something that I deeply respect, for reasons apparent in many of my RAH reviews. Bully for you, Mr. Panshin. And on to the book...Rite of Passage is a rather unique book in my experience with SF in that Mr. Panshin has seemed to figure out the seemingly impossible puzzle male authors almost always struggle with: writing female characters. Lord knows how many SF books I have read that seem to see the so-called fairer sex as nothing more than a goal or plot device, substituting physical power for actual agency and fully rounded, developed characterization. When Mr. Panshin seems to write this so effortlessly, why is it so hard for everyone else? (Hint: There is no "writing women" so much as "writing CHARACTERS.")Mia is an interesting character in that she doesn't seem to care much about your approval of her as a narrator. She is telling these events from her own mind for her own purposes and doesn't seem to care at all whether or not you agree with her, which is unspeakably refreshing. The ranks of people that dislike this are, nine times out of ten, the ones who praise books like A Clockwork Orange for the exact same behavior in a male. Curious. I also find it terribly entertaining that Mia isn't so quick to rush to correct people over misgendering her. Seems to me like she is fully aware of the implications of doing so in a dangerous situation. Good for her. This makes it even more upsetting to me when I see how readily the various covers I have found of this book seem to actively ignore not only this basic aspect of her character, making her seem more traditionally glamorous, but also whitewashing her in the process. With a last name like Havero, people might be able to take a hint, but I suppose an argument could be made for future changes in the genetic pool......if the book didn't explicitly describe her as being darker skinned. I have taken the liberty of pulling up the three editions I purchased, entirely out of amusement with this serial whitewashing... those are the less glaring ones. The conversations of shoulder-peeking coworkers in regard to this book were something like this:"What are you reading? Looks *squints at cover, wincing*...kinda old.""Well, so's the Bible, but I can't help but notice people keep picking that one up."Great book, bad covers. I really enjoyed the fact that Mia's "Mudeaters" issue is something that is always socially relevant and that she was not written as a perfect example of a Strong Female Character™ and thus without any moral failings. Classism is at play all over our lives no matter what country we come from, and Mia is a product of a culture that, not unlike our own, has many convenient justifications for their monopoly over life-improving tools for less advantaged people. Someone is always lording some kind of power over someone else and, in the case of the Ship people and the Mudeaters, it is a kind of power that is particularly chilling to me in my line of work in libraries. Keeping knowledge from others is one of the most effective tactics of control and stifles ideas and opportunity. I wonder if Panshin's own past in libraries informed this at all, or if it was entirely coincidental. Anyhow, the story is, admittedly, a bit on the slow side in terms of pacing. It seems to take a long time to get to the Trial and, once it gets there, the book is kind of over in a sneeze, which was a small disappointment for me. I would have liked to see more of Mia's struggles in her new environment, but it was just as refreshing to know and actually /see/ that Mia was a problem solver and hero in her own right, rescuing Jimmy, outwitting much larger, stronger gangs of men, and allowing her some failures in the process. All in all, a solid SF title for those who like a little terra in their SF.

  • Julian
    2019-03-23 11:00

    At its core Rite of Passage is a classic coming of age tale. Alex Panshin writes with warmth and pace, and he crafts a story with depth that sets this book apart from many other young adult SFs. It is no surprise that Rite of Passage took home the Nebula. 4/5I couldn’t help but write down some thoughts I had while reading Rite of Passage.Trial, the practice of marooning 14 year olds on alien and unfamiliar worlds for 30 days came off as absurd to me. The ritual just doesn’t mix with the sophisticated nature in which shipboard society was portrayed. Every adult’s adolescence would have been traumatized by the loss of several classmates or friends. Too many parents would suffer the ultimate loss. A ship governed democratically by citizens who were also parents would never allow such a practice to continue. Panshin should have made deaths seem like an uncommon occurrence. This additionally would have added weight to Mia’s Trial group’s disastrous experiences.A safer version of the Trial ritual is practiced right here in the wealthy and powerful space ship called the United States. For decades, possibly starting around the late 60’s when this book was written, a common Rite of Passage for American youth has been travelling to foreign lands. The travellers are looking for adventures, fun times, new perspectives, new faces and perhaps a touch of danger and the unknown. Collectively, these experiences probably do our society a lot of good.This allegory of Developed Society as the ship and Developing societies as the colonists becomes more interesting still when it is carried through to Rite of Passage’s conclusion. At the end of the book two political factions disagree about how the colonist’s unprovoked violence against Mia’s trial group should be addressed. One side argues that the total destruction of the planet is the only way to contain dangerous ideas that have festered there such as uncontrolled population growth, slavery and possible plots to attack the ship directly. They warn that this path is what ended Earth and pushed human civilization to the brink. The opposing coalition argues that every attempt should be made to reeducate and inform the colonists and that the carefully guarded knowledge and technology in the ship should be freely distributed for the good of all.In my opinion, Mia’s father seemed much too reasonable early in the book to become Darth Vader at its end. I can only explain the drastic approach in two ways. Either this was to spice up the conclusion in the minds of young readers, or Panshin had a similar allegory in mind and really wanted to drive home how much evil occurs on our behalf in the developing world – we might as well be piloting the Death Star ourselves.Drastic approaches aside, the exposition of the ship’s moral dilemma at the conclusion of the book was excellent. It tied up everything from Mia’s morality essay to her move across the ship to her experiences on Trial. Is the protection of what we deem to be sophisticated knowledge worth the blood and suffering of the masses? As someone who is paid to study physics in a gleaming white tower, this is a question worth grappling with on a personal level.There were so many other things I liked in this book. The spear carrier and the storytelling. Mia’s Hell on Wheels attitude, her self awareness, and the development of her character. I was impressed by how well this book has aged since the late 60’s (I assumed it was from the late 80’s while reading it, for no particular reason). I liked that the ship’s government reminded me of Alastair Reynold’s Demarchists (Reynolds of course doesn’t claim to have invented this idea, but his books introduced it to me).Overall, a Rite of Passage is a wonderful coming of age story that is worth your time and thoughts. If you know any young teens who like reading, get them a copy of this and assign them the task of writing a comparison between this and The Hunger Games or Divergent. At least, that’s what I’m planning to do to my 13 year old sister!

  • Kate
    2019-03-20 07:07

    I read Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage again. For some reason, this story is very close to my heart. It's a story of a young girl, Mia, living in a floating spaceship, facing the Trial of her society. This Trial is the mark of adulthood in their community of thirty thousand, their 'Rite of Passage'.The story began with Mia's little joys and frustrations. And behind that, she had her fears and prejudices. I always love 'coming of age' stories. Usually I just enjoy reading about the growing potential of a young man. But as the story goes on, Rite of Passage becomes much broader than an ordinary coming of age story. I mean broader in the intellectual sense rather than things like epic action with is usually expected of sci-fi stories.Mia's growth is a course of continuing discarding her own previous convictions and embracing new. At first She had plenty of reasons to dispise other kids. She gradually came to having peace with this sort of unpleasantness. Likewise, she and other Ship people had plenty of reasons to dispise Planet people. But obviously people as a group comes to a change much slower than an individual does. As an individual, Mia came to her own conclusion of how to deal with planet people. I read with enormous joy about how she became more and more open-minded. All that was required is that she had a vigorous spirit and was naturally compassionate.I have to say that this change of previous beliefs and gradually opening up the mind is the center of growing up, at least that's how I have felt. I can't think of any other fiction that deals with this theme so well. Appearing in sci-fi form gives the story a sense of neutrality, not siding up with anything now in this world. That's one of the advantages sci-fi as a form can provide, which writers should utilize more.I even love one of the minor implications of the story. It is implied that living self-content like those in the Ship do, without feeling attatched to their primitive Planet people, the society seems to be going nowhere. Creative activities such as writing a novel, or creating art ceases to happen.The author Alexei Panshin has put his 'making of' this novel on his website Abyss of Wonder. It largely concerns with how he was fancinated by sci-fi because of Robert Heinlein's early work. And later Panshin had serious problems with them. Panshin says in 'Robert Heinlein and Rite of Passage' that as a child he read Heinlein and was led to the question, 'can it be that the present human culture is still in its adolescence phase? do the grown-ups still need to grow up?'. Later he found the answer to those questions is yes as he encountered the problems with Heinlein's work.The problems Panshin met was that though the West has plenty of reasons to dispise and feel threatened by the Communists, do they have the right o distroy them by atomic bombs? It's very like Ship and Planet relationship in Rite of Passage. And in RoP, Panshin made his points more eloquently than I can put here in a review.Maturity consists of the ability to sort out portions of truth from accepted lies and self-deceptions that you are grown up with. If you never made the effort, whatever you are, you are not mature.

  • Eva
    2019-03-16 12:27

    I've loved this book ever since my father read it to me when I was little. I loved how Mia wasn't always perfect- she fought with her father, was mean to her friends, and didn't always what she was told. When she was scared, she was direct about it, "Call me a cautious tiger". She made her own decisions and accepted the consequences, was loyal to herself and her friends. And she survived to became an adult. By far one of my favorite coming of age stories ever.

  • Alan
    2019-03-19 06:14

    This is the fourth, and the best book, that I have read that was written by Alexei Panshin. In almost all ways this novel is a 180 degrees from the humorous Anthony Villiers' books. I personally find it a shame that Panshin has apparently retired from writing. My research shows one critical book and a couple of fantasy novels in his bibliography in addition to what I have read.Enough dithering. Rite of Passage was not what I expected. Panshin takes us through about two years of Mia's life. Mia lives on one of the Ships, the arks that Earth used in the 21st century to establish colonies. With Earth's self-destruction the Ships go from colony to colony trading knowledge for the goods the ships cannot manufacture for themselves.Every child in their 14th year must go on a 30 day trial on one of the colonies. If the child survives, and is picked up and returns to the ship, they become an adult. We, the reader, follow Mia's maturation as she readies herself for trial, her trial, and the aftermath of her trial.I expected the majority of the book to deal with her trial, and it doesn't. I think what worked much better for me was Panshin's world building, his character development, and keeping trial to a much smaller piece of the book.This is also a novel that raises some moral and ethical questions. I know they're making Ender's Game into a movie, but this would also make for a good movie.Personal note: With tweens/YA running to books such as Twilight and The Hunger Games (which I think is overrated) I wish more YA/tweens did read Ender's Game and especially girls Rite of Passage. Why? These books raise ethical and moral issue, and Mia is a stronger female character than Katniss (caveat the first book bored me enough not to read the next two-the love triangle and Katniss' survival was so obvious).

  • LauraW
    2019-03-23 11:21

    This book has most of the things I really enjoy in a book - good story, interesting characters, and things that keep me thinking afterwards. While ship society isn't as richly imagined as I might have hoped, the build up to the Trial, the Trial itself, and the aftermath are carefully orchestrated to leave the reader with much to ponder and discuss. I would love to read this book with a group of adolescents. SPOILER ALERT!!!....................It is interesting to me that, in the final debate about the fate of Tintera, NO ONE mentioned the fate of the Losels. I am presuming that anything done to destroy the human inhabitants of Tintera would also destroy any other living being on the planet. I don't see how they could wipe out thousands or millions of humans without also wiping out other living things, including the possibly sentient Losels. This book is one reason why I enjoy science fiction - it takes an aspect of our society, distorts it in some way, and explores the consequences and therefore the implications of it. It doesn't quite rank up there with Ender's Game for me, but I really enjoyed it.

  • Peter
    2019-03-03 10:03

    This was simply on my list of Hugo (Nebula?) winners to read. I'd never heard of the book or the author. It was quite a fascinating read, and I really enjoyed the young person first person perspective. I think this would have been powerful to read as a teenager, a lot of thought about growing up and finding your purpose. The titular rite of passage at first I thought would be the Trial that all young people in the Ship society are to make, to survive 30 days being dropped off on a wild colonial planet, but the actual rite of passage was something that calls into question the whole reason for being of the Ship people. Interesting.As another interesting aside, the copy of this I have I had picked up at a used book store. The couple of blank pages at the end of the book at been written in by a previous owner who had a little essay contrasting this book with the movie "The Roadwarrior." I don't remember the movie well, although my superficial figuring of the film seemed to mesh with what was written. I don't think I saw the comparisons being drawn, but it was interesting to see someone's thoughts written out as processed by this book.

  • Eva Rieder
    2019-03-11 04:00

    I remembered reading this book in high school, but when I picked it up again and started reading I realized I never had. This book is one I'd like to read in my English classes this year, both because it features a female protagonist and it's a good introduction to science fiction. Mia, the main character, is a teen going through the same relatable issues as all teens face—but she's facing them in a futuristic world with a twist. Her family lives on a spaceship, and the looming Rite of Passage is in her near future. This Rite will drop her to a colony so she can prove her adulthood by surviving for a month on her own (or die in the process). The entire book is essentially about survival: in another world, in a world of adults, in a world of complete structure and order, and in the capacity of a teenager. Her issues are identifiable for most—the ways we blundered through the world, slowly gaining awareness of the people around us as teens—and for that I think it is a good read. I give it 3.5 stars.

  • William March
    2019-03-15 12:27

    I thought that this book was brilliant for the amount of themes and subjects it touched upon in such a short number of pages. I'm surprised that I have not heard of this book before reading it, as I can see it being very popular as recommended reading for young adults. It is an intelligent coming of age story that explores the oldest ethical issues with which humanity continues to grapple, such as the proper way to distribute power and the dilemma of stable passivity versus dynamic action. It draws striking parallels between the coming of age of a single girl (Mia Havero) and the evolution of the entirety of human society. I thought that the author didn't go into enough description when dealing with some of the technologies being used but it did not degrade the overall story, as it is mostly an exploration of ethics, but I am a Science Fiction neophyte for the most part. It was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to pretty much anyone.

  • Marmaduke45
    2019-03-08 08:13

    Rite of Passage is one of my favorite books. I love a coming of age story and this one set in a society aboard an interstellar spaceship hits all the right notes for me. The heroine is very smart and competent. She lives in an interesting environment aboard the ship where responcibilities are taken seriously. We get to see how the society works and how the young members are tested by dropping them off on alien worlds to see if they can survive and then become full citizens of the ship. The story is told by Mia herself which helps draw us into her world. She is just a kid like we all were, but by the end she has matured and accepted her place in society, but has had to face and think about some very serious questions. Responcibility, life and death, right and wrong. This is an exciting story well told that will make you think afterward about what it means to be a citizen in any society. Highly recommended.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-02-28 10:19

    A science fiction novel about deontological ethics--imagine that! How could I not love it?Science fiction is justified as something more than mere escapist entertainment by its inherent capacity to radically challenge its readers' presuppositions and worldviews. In this the genre serves the same salutory function available to the disciplines of cultural anthropology, abnormal psychology and comparative sociology. Unfortunately, most SF literature does no such thing. Indeed, Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream, a space opera composed in an alternative past by a mediocre SF writer, Adolf Hitler, represents how bad novels in the field can even reinforce the prejudices of their readers. Opposed to that exaggerated example, however, are such books as Panshin's Rite of Passage and many of the novels of Theodore Sturgeon and Ursula K. LeGuin.

  • Ann aka Iftcan
    2019-02-22 05:00

    I just finished re-reading this. It's been many years since I read it the first time, and I have to admit--the story is STILL great. It deals with a great many concerns we all have as we grow up. While the main characters in this book are older children/young teens by our standards, in their own world they are very nearly adults--becoming adults at the age of 14, with all that that implies. While largely an adventure novel set in the far (200 years) future, it is also a study on what makes something "right" and moral. The last quarter of the book deals with that question, and how the protagenists deal with that question.There is a reason that this book won the Nebula Award and that is because of the strength of the writing and the story.Excellent job, Alexi.

  • Scott
    2019-03-20 11:14

    The first half of this novel is almost unreadable, the narrator a stultifying caricature barely recognizable as a young human, let alone a young human woman. Panshin flinches from even the mildest boundaries in imagining the life of a girl at puberty; his one-sentence glossing over the subject of menstruation brought eye-rolling and disappointed laughs from all the real live women I asked for an opinion. The second half of the novel is far more interesting and sensitively wrought, a tale of first love and hard adventure that leads into profound moral discussion and a staggering injustice. I found the ending unforgettable, and am damned glad I didn't give in to the impulse to throw the book across the room while still mired in its early chapters.

  • Elvie Doll
    2019-03-08 05:07

    Here's a link to my review of Rite of Passage on Paperback Dolls.This is one of those books that you read and never forget. It can change how you think about yourself, your life, and the world around you. If you haven't read this book, the only excuse I can think of for you is that you might not have heard of it. It was first published in 1968, and didn't get reprinted until relatively recently. So you might not have heard of it. But now you have, and you have no more excuses. Go. Read.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-14 10:22

    Mia on the Ship as she prepares for her Trial. I liked this a lot, but the main reason I liked it, I didn't figure out til the end. It reminded me almost viscerally of To Kill a Mockingbird - these two girls, with their fathers, detailing little bits of their life, in that brilliantly sketched matter-of-fact child-adult tone, towards a great boom at the end that was important and nuanced and a true transition in their young lives because of what had come before. It was a pleasure to read, and it's a book that I think I will come to view with ever more pleasure on re-read, just like To Kill a Mockingbird.