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I would love to identify a sci-fi novel I read in the late 60s or 70s. It followed a group of young space cadets through their training in the Space Academy. The training culminated in small groups of cadets being sent through a gateway in the space station, into different worlds where they had to survive whatever conditions they met beyond the gateway, as part of their training. One such trip went wrong and the group ended up stranded in a hostile world for days, hoping to be rescued by their trainers. I can't remember much about the story or protagonists so this may be too vague, but I remember descriptions of a vast space station hall and these young cadets bringing whatever kit they hoped they might need - some brought breathing apparatus and full survival gear, but others came with very little as they believed they would not be sent into conditions where they could die without the right equipment. They hadn't bargained for the power surge or whatever it was that misdirected them as they passed through the gateway! I also remember rivalry between the cadets - I think the hero was male and quietly heading for top cadet of the year award... and I think at least one of the group died in the unknown planet before they were rescued.

Does this ring a bell with anyone? I remember the mood and tension more than the details but it was a long time ago! I have a 10-year old son who I think would love this kind of story. If anyone can help you have my thanks!

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Tunnel In the Sky by Robert Heinlein!

A Malthusian catastrophe on Earth has been averted by the invention of teleportation, called the "Ramsbotham jump", which is used to send Earth's excess population to colonize other planets. However, the costs of operating the device mean that the colonies are isolated from Earth until they can produce something to justify two-way trade. Because modern technology requires a supporting infrastructure, more primitive methods are employed — for example, horses instead of tractors.

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    An episode from the end of Tunnel in the Sky (which was also my guess) that might stick in the mind was that the cadets had formally qualified as an established colony and the protagonist considered--for a while--staying on. – dmckee Dec 7 '12 at 22:25
  • Brilliant, that's it! Description on Wiki and an Amazon preview confirm it - thank you so much! I hope to pass the same sense of excitement on to my own 10-year-old son. Thanks for your help. – user11205 Dec 9 '12 at 20:46
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Also reminds me of Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein. Heinlein wrote about a dozen novels intended for 10 year old sons, including Have Space Suit, Will Travel; The Rolling Stones; Rocket Ship Galileo; and Citizen of the Galaxy.

  • Yeah, the description sounds mostly like Tunnel in the Sky, but with a bit of Space Cadet mixed in. – Ward Dec 8 '12 at 7:55
  • Really helpful, thank you so much, that's definitely the one. – user11205 Dec 9 '12 at 20:48

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