Misfit (short story)

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Author Robert A. Heinlein
Country United States
Language English
Series Future History
Genre(s) Science fiction
Published in Astounding Science Fiction
Publication type Magazine
Media type Print
Publication date November 1939

"Misfit" is a science fiction short story by American writer Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally titled "Cosmic Construction Corps" before being renamed by the editor John W. Campbell.[1] and published in the November 1939 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. One of the earliest of Heinlein's Future History stories, it was later included in the collections Revolt in 2100 and The Past Through Tomorrow.

Plot summary[edit]

The story concerns Andrew Jackson Libby (here nicknamed Pinky, for his red hair, but later nicknamed Slipstick), a boy from Earth with extraordinary mathematical ability[2] but meager education. Finding few opportunities on Earth, he joins the Cosmic Construction Corps, a future military-led version of the Civilian Conservation Corps employing out-of-work youth to colonize the Solar System. With a group of other inexperienced young men he is assigned to a ship traveling to the asteroid belt where their task is to move an asteroid into a more convenient orbit between Mars and Earth. Pinky comes to the Captain's attention during the process of blasting holes in the asteroid for rocket engines when Pinky realizes that a mistake has been made in calculating the size of the charge, preventing a catastrophic blast. He is assigned to the ship's astrogation computer. During the trip back to Earth the computer malfunctions and Libby takes over, performing all the complex calculations in his head. The asteroid is settled successfully into its final orbit.

"Slipstick" Libby became one of Heinlein's recurring characters, and would later appear in several works associated with Lazarus Long, among them Methuselah's Children and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

The short story includes one of the first examples of the phrase "space marine".


  1. ^ Patterson, William H., Jr. (2010), Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Macmillan, pp. 236–237, ISBN 1429964855. 
  2. ^ Slusser, George Edgar (1977), "The Classic Years of Robert A. Heinlein", Popular Writers of Today, Wildside Press LLC, 11, p. 5, ISBN 0893702161. 

External links[edit]