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Rite of Passage (1968)

av Alexei Panshin

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,0532819,544 (3.72)57
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 world.… (mer)

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engelska (26)  spanska (1)  franska (1)  Alla språk (28)
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Un impresionante relato de las consecuencias psicológicas y morales de la adolescencia en una joven, cuya educación y ambiente pertenecen ciertamente a nuestro futuro aunque con unos problemas siempre actuales.
  Natt90 | Apr 18, 2023 |
This book would have been great when I was 12 years old. It helps you wrestle with moral dilemmas. But reading it at the age I am, it seemed plodding. I did enjoy the moral lesson given on Free Birthers; the author's disgust was palpable. Our own planet would have been destroyed, if there existed Overlords for us, as it did in the story. As it is, we take the slow suicide, yea? ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Great book by Panshin. I thoroughly enjoy this SF juvenile classic. It won a HOGO and deserved it. One SF writer noted that Panshin used to complain about Robert Heinlein's success with juvenille SF books. Then Panshin wrote this charming SF book that could be easily be mistaken for a Heinlein novel and won awards. I agree, it does read like a Heinlein juvenile but this one is better then some of Heinlein's. ( )
  ikeman100 | Sep 24, 2022 |
review of
Alexei Panshin's Rite of Passage
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 24, 2014

Time to read yet-another SF author whose work I haven't previously read. This one was the winner of a Nebula Award, an award I respect since I usually agree about the merit of the work so honored. In this case, I, perhaps, agree a little less - there are some aspects of the work that are remarkable but it mostly strikes me as a novel-w/-SF-trappings.

It seems that I've been reading a fair amt of dire-predictions-of-population-explosion SF bks lately, the most recently reviewed of wch is John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar (see my review here: full version: "Being Eaten By Sharks Off The Coast Of Zanzibar": https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/380819-being-eaten-by-sharks-off-the-coast-... ). Stand on Zanzibar's set in 2010 & its population predictions (made 42 yrs in advance of the novel's time setting) is close. As I write in my review: "according to Geohive, 2009's world population was "6,834,721,933". / "["]What we can't cope with is seven billion competing members of our own species.["]" (p 424) Hence, Stand on Zanzibar's prediction for 2009 population is only 165,000,000 shy. Not bad."

Rite of Passage is set in a further future where humanity's migrated off-planet. Earth was destroyed on March 9th (yr unstated).

"From what I learned in school population pressure is the ultimate cause of every war. In 2041, there were eight billion people on Earth alone, and nobody even had free room to sneeze. There were not enuf houses, not enuf schools or teachers, inadequate roads and impossible traffic, natural resources were going or gone, and everybody was a little bit hungry all the time, although nobody was actually starving. Nobody dared to raise his voice because if he did he might disturb a hundred other people, and they had laws and ordinances to bring the point home" - p 9

Now, granted that this is told in the voice of a 12 yr old living in a hollowed-out asteroid spaceship who's just recounting what she remembers from her schooling the author is, therefore, not presenting this as (fictionalized) 'facts of the future'. I'm writing this review at the end of 2014, a population of 8 billion by 27 yrs from now isn't improbable. At this rate of human growth conditions such as those described above might also be probable but I don't think that even 8 billion will get us there. As it is now I live in an uncrowded area w/ enuf to go around & plenty of 'untapped' nature. Then again, I'm considerably more fortunate than other people in the world & my 'good fortune' can at least partially be ascribed to the warlike nature of this country's politicians & other ruling elites.

Maybe 200 yrs ago when people had many children it was w/ the likelihood that a high percentage wd die young. Not so these days. In the case of this story, the "rite of passage" of the title is a part of the 'weeding out' process:

"We won't become overpopulated, either. We have a safety valve. Within three months of the day you turn fourteen, they take you from the ship and drop you on one of the colony planets to survive as best you can for thirty days. There are no exceptions and a reasonably high percentage of deaths. if you are stupid, foolish, immature, or simply unlucky, you won't live through the month. If you do come home, you are an adult. My problem was that at twelve I wasn't afraid to die, but I was afraid to leave the Ship. I couldn't even face leaving the quad we lived in." - p 10

That's an interesting enuf premise & Panshin fulfills it believably (at least to this reader). He also writes from the 1st person perspective of a young girl believably (again, to this reader) - although it probably helps that she's a bit 'tom-boyish'. Whether there's a girl in the world who wd agree w/ me on that latter I don't know.

The girl describes her spaceship environment
thusly: "The quad itself, and they're all this way, was a maze of blank walls, blind alleys, endless corridors, and staircases leading in odd directions. This was done on purpose—it keeps people from getting either bored or lazy, and that's important on a Ship like ours." - p 14

I'm reminded of the "Winchester House":

"There were countless staircases which led nowhere; a blind chimney that stops short of the ceiling; closets that opened to blank walls; trap doors; double-back hallways; skylights that were located one above another; doors that opened to steep drops to the lawn below; and dozens of other oddities. Even all of the stair posts were installed upside-down and many of the bathrooms had glass doors on them."


"While all of this seems like madness to us, it all made sense to Sarah. In this way, she could control the spirits who came to the house for evil purposes, or who were outlaws or vengeful people in their past life. These bad men, killed by Winchester rifles, could wreak havoc on Sarah’s life. The house had been designed into a maze to confuse and discourage the bad spirits." - http://www.prairieghosts.com/winchester.html

Architecturally, this seems like my kind of place!

That tangent aside, tho, the most important relevant reference in connection w/ Panshin's spaceship design wd be the NASA research that I was fortunate enuf to participate in around 1973 (5 yrs after this novel came out). I was a research volunteer for simulated space-station living at the Phipps Clinic, wch was part of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, us@. For 15 days I lived in confined circumstances following procedures that were clearly designed to be Behavioral Modification tests meant to keep the mind & body in good health. While the space was too small for labyrinths the general guiding principle in Panshin's novel is still sound.

"There is a constant problem of stimulation in living in the Ship—if life were too easy, we would all become vegetables. The response has been to make some things more difficult than they might be. This means that shopping is something you do in person and not by vid." - p 168

Panshin has the main character wanting to be a "synthesist". I've been saturated w/ reading bks by John Brunner for the last 2 yrs so it's possible that I'm overemphasizing Brunner here but, nonetheless, it's probably worth mentioning that I'd already encountered the notion of "synthesist" in Brunner's "The Fourth Power" story (1960) in Out of my Mind - from the Past, Present and Future & in the afore-mentioned Stand on Zanzibar (1968). I'm not saying that Panshin took the idea from Brunner (& if he did it's ok w/ me), & I imagine that the idea predated both of their uses of it, I'm saying that there's some zeitgeist at work here: the idea of a "synthesist" was probably budding in importance in the mid-20th century (in fact, it still seems important to me NOW in the early 21st c). Panshin does go off on a development that I don't remember in Brunner:

"A synthesist, which is what I wanted to be, is a person who comes in and admires the neatened room, and recognizes how nice a copy of a certain piece of furniture would loon in the next room over and how useful it would be there, and points the fact out. Without the ordinologists, a synthesist wouldn't be able to begin work. Of course, without the synthesists, there wouldn't be much reason for the ordinologists to set to work in the first place, because nobody would have any use for what they do." - p 29

The synthesist, in the above description, seems precariously close to an aesthetician, a highly suspect pseudo-profession in my opinion. That said, the symbiosis of the ordinologist & the synthesist is interesting.

[reviewer's note: every time I turn a page & flatten it for easier reading in this bk it comes unglued & I have to tape it together - that's getting very distracting - shame on whoever Ace used for this printing]

In Science Fiction there might
be a higher percentage of collective creation than in other fictional genres. EG: Heinlein's "waldo":

"This story has been largely forgotten (even though it still makes great reading). The notion of a waldo, however, has not. The word itself has come into common usage; the American Heritage Dictionary describes it as follows: "A mechanical agent, such as a gripper arm, controlled by a human limb." Real-life waldoes were developed for the nuclear industry during WWII; they were named after the invention described by Heinlein.

"This technology is known today by the more generic term "telefactoring"; it is used in a variety of industries." - http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=23

Another less direct instance occurs in Rite of Passage:

""I've got one," Riggy said, after some moments of concentration during which he wouldn't show anybody what he was doing. Triumphantly he held up a sheet with a drawing of locks on it. " 'More-lock,' " he said. "Get it?"

"We got it but we didn't like it. He had covered the whole sheet with his drawings, which is hardly what you'd call concise.

"I'd been working on the same name myself. I came up with a fair-to-middling troglodyte.

""What's that?" Atilla asked.

""It's Morlock again."

"Venie didn't look pleased, and Riggy immediately challenged, "How do you get Morlock out of that thing>"

""It's from an old novel called The Time Machine. There's a group of underground monsters in it called Morlocks."" - p 122

One of the nicer touches in Rite of Passage is the taking of horses to the colonized planets:

"When the colonies were settled, they took horses to work and ride, because tractors and heli-pacs have such a low reproductive rate." [They'd reproduce better if reproduction were as pleasurable for them as it is for humans.] "There weren't any opportunities to set up industries on the colonies, simply time enough to drop people and enough supplies to give them a fair chance to survive. Then the ships would head back to Earth for another load and another destination. Those supplies included very little in the way of machines because machines wear out in a few years. They did include horses." - p 60

Panshin's protagonist is female. He has her give this herstory:

"Like the girl who first found out how to make fire, like the girl who invented the principle of the lever, like the girl who first had the courage to eat moldy goat cheese and found Roquefort, I had discovered something absolutely new in the world. Self-confidence, perhaps." - p 93

I reckon we have no way of knowing who figured out "how to make fire" so it might've been a girl. Wikipedia tells this story "Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a youth, eating his lunch of bread and ewes' milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the mold (Penicillium roqueforti) had transformed his plain cheese into Roquefort." ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roquefort ) - but that's only a legend. Finally, there's no conclusive evidence regarding the origin of levers either:

"Levers have been used since prehistoric times for cultivation, excavation, and moving large objects. Such implements as hoes, slings, and oars were conceived and constructed to enhance human effort.

"As early as 5000 B.C.E., a simple balance scale employing a lever was used to weigh gold and other items. A Greek device called a steelyard improved on these simple scales by adding a sliding weight to enhance precision. Around 1500 B.C.E., the shaduf, a forerunner of the crane, made its appearance in Egypt and India as a device for lifting containers of water.[1]

"The earliest extant writings regarding levers date from the third century B.C.E. and were provided by Archimedes—behind his famous remark Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth stands a correct mathematical principle of levers (quoted by Pappus of Alexandria) and of the various methods possibly used by builders." - http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Lever

Ergo, the protagonist might be correct. Personally, I prefer sentences such as 'Like the person who first found out how to make fire' but I think Panshin's way of putting thoughts in his protagonist's head is an effective challenge to POVs such as the legend recounted above.

Panshin also manages to squeeze in Ethics:

"Ethics is the branch of philosophy that concerns itself with conduct, questions of good and evil, right and wrong."


"Skipping the history and development of utilitarianism, the most popular expression of the doctrine is "the greatest good for the greatest number," which makes it sound like its relative, the economic philosophy communism which, in a sense, is what we live with in the Ship. The common expression of utilitarian good is "the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain."

"Speaking descriptively, utilitarianism doesn't hold true, though the utilitarian claims that it does. People do act self-destructively at times—they know the pleasureful and choose the painful instead." - p 148

"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 that is a philosophy infinitely more attractive to the king than the slave." - p 152

I find these 'youthful' philosophical musings interesting. It seems to me that any system, philosophical or otherwise, isn't going to be apropos for ever situation it's applied to. As such, a flexible philosophy that helps a person decide what an appropriate response is in the time best-suited for the degree of urgency is desirable.

& then there's the politics:

"Mr. Persson said, "As you know, our past policy has been to hand only as little technical information out to the planets as possible, and then only in return for material considerations." - p 246

Ah, yes, well that particular philosophy turned out to be pretty Draconian.. but I won't spoil it. A good read, I enjoyed it, I don't much care, I'll forget it in a wk or 2. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin (My latest book review)

Mia Havero was born on one of the seven great starships constructed from hollowed-out asteroids, originally intended to transport colonists from Earth to more than one hundred colony worlds. But then the people of Earth destroyed their own planet, and the survivors among mankind are now scattered among these colonies, with the Ships continuously traveling between them, trading technical knowledge for raw materials. When teenage inhabitants of these vessels reach the age of fourteen, they undergo Trial, which involves being abandoned on one of the colony worlds to fend for themselves for a month without any contact with their respective Ships. They are given comprehensive training in the months before they leave and are provided with a small amount of survival gear. But since the colony worlds can be dangerous, a small percentage of these young people do not survive. This loss helps to keep the strictly-controlled population within safe limits while weeding out those who may be less fit for survival. Those who do return are granted full rights as adults, hence the title Rite of Passage.

The first half of the book does not contain much in the way of adventure. It is a description of the everyday life of Mia, a young girl living on one of the Ships, told from her perspective and replete with her opinions and musings. Mia tells us about the culture and prejudices of those who live alongside her, and she shares the views of her influential father on most issues. Many of Mia’s experiences are common to all young people everywhere. The only hints of adventure in this part of the book are a dangerous exploration of the ventilation system in an unfamiliar part of the Ship, and the ‘borrowing’ of spacesuits to conduct a potentially fatal spacewalk on the exterior of the asteroid which encases the Ship.

Although Mia seems to make up her mind very easily about the relative values of philosophical systems, she really only has a very superficial grasp of the complexities of these ideas, and many obvious questions do not even occur to her until during and after her period of Trial. In this way, the book realistically portrays the confidence and the folly of youth. The second half of the book is much more action-packed, and describes Mia’s period of Trial on a particularly unfriendly colony planet.

Moral and ethical questions which seemed clear-cut to Mia before Trial, now appear much more complicated, and when some of these issues are discussed openly by a Ship’s Assembly in the final part of the story, Mia is forced by her newly-acquired convictions to take a stand diametrically opposite to that of her father.

Some of most thought-provoking content consists of Mia’s musings on the nature of things. Here are some direct quotes from the book:

"I don't like the idea of people who don't sing to themselves when they're all alone. They're too sober for me. At least hum-- anybody can do that."

"The truth is, I guess, I just find it easier to cope with things than with people."

"It doesn’t hurt to like the inevitable."

"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, 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."

"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 that is a philosophy infinitely more attractive to the king than the slave."

"Whether or not your actions are determined, you have to act on the assumption that you have free will. If you are determined, your attempt at free will loses you nothing. However, if you are not determined and you act on the assumption that you are, you will never attempt anything. You will simply be a passive blob that things happen to."

"I believe in judging people by their faces, myself. A man can’t help the face he owns, but he can help the expression he wears on it. If a man looks mean, I generally believe he is unless I have reason to change my mind."

"Maturity is the ability to sort the portions of truth from the accepted lies and self-deceptions that you have grown up with. "

"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. . . . 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. "

"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."

"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. They do without the successes as well as the failures."

I think this book would have been viewed as considerably unconventional when it was first published in 1968, and that is partly why it won a Nebula Award for Best Novel and was nominated for a Hugo. It is a very well-written and structured piece of work which still contains much of relevance for readers today, and it clearly has a unique place among science fiction coming-of-age stories.

( )
  Hoppy500 | Dec 1, 2021 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Panshin, Alexeiprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Christensen, HarroÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Dillon, DianeOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Dillon, LeoOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Krásný, Jan PatrikOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Morrill, RowenaOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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They that have pow'r 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 graces

And husband nature's riches from expense;

They are the lords and owners of their faces,

Others but stewards of their excellence.

The summer's flow'r is to the summer sweet

Though to itself it only live and die,

But if that flow'r 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.

Information från den engelska sidan med allmänna fakta. Redigera om du vill anpassa till ditt språk.
This book is for Charles and Marsha Brown
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To be honest, I haven't been able to remember clearly everything that happened to me before and during Trial, so where necessary I've filled in with possibilities--lies, if you want.
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(Klicka för att visa. Varning: Kan innehålla spoilers.)
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Please DO NOT combine this with the roleplaying game supplement for Werewolf: The Apocalypse called Rite of Passage http://www.librarything.com/work/2476...
There are several works with this title. Please do not combine with any of them. If your book is listed here, you can edit your author to make it clear, then separate and combine.
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

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 world.

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