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This was the first science fiction novel I completed reading on my own some 36 years ago. Unfortunately the details are very sketchy indeed, but here's what I think I remember:

  • It was a hard back library book
  • The book was 100 pages long (perhaps exactly or just over)
  • I read it some time pre-1980, possibly in 1979 but it may not have been new then
  • It would've been classified as a "Children's Book" back then, but would be YA or Middle Grade now
  • The POV character was a young boy of about 10-12 years of age
  • It was set on the Moon
  • The boy is rescued by some space gypsies
  • He is befriended by a young space gypsy girl with dark hair
  • When he is returned to his family, his parents are very prejudiced against the gypsies.
  • A scene fragment of transferring from a lunar rover to the entrance tunnel to a lunar base
  • A scene fragment of the boy looking at a computer screen and seeing someone who reminds him of the girl

Like so many here, this is a long term unscratchable itch that I'd love to soothe. Many thanks in advance for any clues or pointers.

  • 1
    There are a number of elements there which sound like Citizen of the Galaxy, but Heinlein's book definitely doesn't use the moon as a setting for any significant length of time. – dmckee Nov 3 '13 at 4:48
  • There are at least three Heinlein books that are set on the moon for significant amounts of time, but neither one could possibly be what the asker is looking for: The Rolling Stones, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, and of course The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. – Donald.McLean Nov 3 '13 at 5:19
  • Despite considering myself a Heinlein fan, I haven't read any of those, so I'll fix that for starters. Either way I'll post back on whether any of these are a fit. Many Thanks! – h3rne Nov 3 '13 at 17:54
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    @dmckee So I finished Citizen of the Galaxy, which was a fun read BTW so thanks, and I can see that how it fits a large number of the criteria set. However, I'm pretty sure that wasn't it. Mainly the length and "Adultness" of the plot and the language don't "feel" right, but I was close to thinking that it might've been it at about the 3/4 mark, so thanks! Also, I think I might have noticed that it was written by Heinlein, but maybe not... – h3rne Nov 10 '13 at 17:00
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Except for "set on the Moon", every plot detail mentioned is a good match for Nicholas Fisk's "Flamers" (a.k.a "Escape from Splatterbang"). The novel was set on Splatterbang, a planet with an atmosphere unbreathable to humans, a dying ecosystem, and some very dangerous native life forms: the titular "Flamers", which resembled living fireballs that were attracted to and consumed metal. The boy and the girl were named Mykl and Amina respectively. The base in which Mykl takes refuge after being marooned on Splatterbang is operated by an AI named "Ego". After learning Mykl's name, Ego says that it's a very old name that used to be spelled "Michael". The scene with the image of the girl on the monitor occurs in the base, before he meets Amina. Ego says that the image is old data that shouldn't be there, but offers to give her a voice and personality as a companion for Mykl. The first attempt to rescue Mykl and Amina failed because the cable used to lower the rescue pod was made of metal and was attacked and consumed by the Flamers. Another detail that I remember is that spacesuits were usually equipped with a device called a "strong right arm" that provided enhanced strength; in one scene, Mykl uses it to break a mechanical lock with his thumb.

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    There are a whole load of details here that tickle my memory - particularly the girl's name "Amina". Nicholas Fisk is pretty likely as the library had loads of them (I remember reading Antigrav and Trillions shortly after). The page count is perfect too. I'm now hunting down a copy, but I'm confident you've nailed it. Many Thanks! – h3rne Dec 23 '13 at 1:13
  • Yup, that's the one. Thank you so much for helping me recover a key factor in my childhood that I thought was lost forever. – h3rne Jan 12 '14 at 0:31

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