I would have read that story or had it read to me maybe several times by about 1961.

I remember it was in a large format book, which had soft covers or maybe had lost its hard covers. I think there were other stories in the book that I don't remember anything about, but I am not certain.

At least one illustration showed the family had a spaceship which might have looked like a flying saucer or a rocket ship, and it had a large transparent hemisphere covering the control room. And I remember an illustration of them seeing an asteroid with a human like face carved into it, presumably from the surface of a planet which had been shattered, producing the asteroids.

But I am not certain that I remember the story correctly.

Can anyone identify such a story?

Added 11-09-2021

It has been suggested I might remember scenes from Robert A. Heinlein's The Rolling Stones 1952. It was written years before I would have read that story or had it read to me, and it did feature a family traveling thorugh the asteroid belt. So I can believe that possibly a chapter from it or something might have been in some anthology of stories.

I note that The Rolling Stones was serialized in Boy's Life in Sept. to Dec. 1952 as "Tramp Space Ship", and there may have been illustrations.

And I might have read The Rolling Stones in the 1960s. I read all the Heinlein books in my local public library and the high school library. So possibly my memory might mix up a children's story and scenes from The Rolling Stones.

But so far nobody has mentioned a scene where a carving of a face is found on an asteroid.

I note that the idea that the asteroids were an exploded planet which once had a civilization is found in other Heinlein stories.

In Between Planets, 1951, it is mentioned that the "first" interplanetary empire in the solar system many millions of years ago was ruled by the fifth planet until it was destroyed.

In Space Cadet, 1948, it is discovered that a civilzation existed on the lost planet and the planet was desctroyed in an artificial explosion.

But I don't remember any Heinlein story where an asteroid was found with a carving of a human like face.

Added Nov. 15, 2021.

Another answer mentions the comic book Space Family Robinson starting in 1962. I bought them starting with the 2nd issue and later got a second hand copy of the first issue. The Robinsons were in the asteroid belt in the first few issues and later they were in interstellar space with no explanation. And I don't rmember them ever seeing a face on an asteroid.

Anyway, my memory of the story is that it was in a large format book, larger than a comic book, with soft covers or missing its covers. It was mostly text though it had at least one illustration.


1 Answer 1


There's some possibility this is The Rolling Stones -- one of Robert A. Heinlein's earlier juvenile novels. It's a short novel, in which Castor and Pollux Stone (twins, as you might guess) get the idea to buy themselves a used spaceship and take to the Solar System as business owners.

Their father, however, takes the idea and runs with it, and soon the father, Roger, and their grandmother Hazel are owners of a ship much more suited to a family than two boys barely old enough to get their licenses -- and the entire family leave the Moon, where they all grew up, initially for Mars.

The boys have done their research (they think) and purchased a bunch of bicycles suitable for the Lunar (or Mars) surface, with the rider in a space suit, which they intend to sell to prospectors (which is why they're on the Moon to begin with). They'll refurbish the bikes while on their transfer orbit to Mars, and make a killing selling them at their destination.

Along the way, however, the Rolling Stones (the name the family gave their ship, more than ten years before Jagger and company formed a band) turns out to be the only ship that can provide a critically needed doctor (the mother of the boys) to a passenger liner on a similar orbit, and the bicycles are jettisoned to save mass for the maneuver that will leave them with nearly dry tanks before they reach Mars orbit.

Later in the book, their little brother picks up a "flat cat", a Martian native animal that's a better pet than any cat ever was (no claws, among other things) and takes it with them as they head further out into the Asteroid Belt -- but they find (fifteen years before Kirk and company) that if you feed a flat cat enough, you'll wind up with a bunch of little flat cats.

Also on that leg of the journey, Grandma Hazel takes over writing a 3V serial from Roger, then brings younger brother Buster in as a collaborator -- and then they both get lost on their way to visit a nearby asteroid because of an unrepaired "scooter" rocket flivver, and the twins have to figure out where they've wound up based on what was wrong with the scooter, then break their grounding to rescue the lost because everyone else is looking in very much the wrong place.

The cover art for some editions, and some of the internal illustrations as well, show the bridge of the ship with a huge viewport, though externally it's a classic Heinlein rocket ship, with fins and nozzles and a needle nose.

I don't recall any scene in which an asteroid was found with a face carved into it, but it's tempting to suggest this was conflated with another source.

  • 2
    Yeah, I've read it a couple times...
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:33
  • "that's a better pet than any cat ever was" Pistols at dawn, sir!
    – Lexible
    Nov 9, 2021 at 16:56
  • @Lexible I've had cats for more than five decades, and I love them to death -- but no flat cat ever scratched up the sofa, and they weren't prone to knocking stuff off shelves. Eating any food left out, and reproducing in a way that makes rabbits look like they're barely viable, yes, but not scratching stuff that doesn't need scratched.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Nov 9, 2021 at 17:34
  • You say that like it's a bad thing! ;P
    – Lexible
    Nov 9, 2021 at 19:26
  • See my addition to my question. Nov 9, 2021 at 21:02

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