Misfit

Publication date:1939.11
Genre:Science fiction short story
Series:Future History
Preceded by:Life‐Line
Followed by:Requiem
Wikipedia page

“Misfit” is a science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein. It was originally titled “Cosmic Construction Corps” before being renamed by the editor John W. Campbell, Jr.. The short was first published in “Astounding Science‐Fiction” November 1939.

Main protagonist—“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.”

Exposition

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 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…