Farmer in the Sky

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Author: Robert A. Heinlein Published: late 1950 I read: Late June/early July 2006. Originally serialized in Boy's Life magazine, which explains the frequent references to Scouting. Retro Hugo Award winning novel for 1951. Non-spoilery short description:
Decent "future 1950s" book giving a first-hand account of early colonists to Jupiter's moon of Ganymede. People can get a few acres and try to farm it, not unlike the 1800s, except you've got to turn boulders and lava rock into farmable land.
Totally spoilery summary:

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|<td>Youngster Bill and father George (widow of Anne) live on an overpopulated, food-rationing future Earth. George announces he's emigrating to the young Ganymede colony on the Mayflower, and Bill convinces him that he should be brought along too. What is a surprise to Bill, though, is that George was doing so to start anew with his new wife Molly and stepdaughter Peggy. Bill is irked, but slowly gets over it. They all head to Ganymede on the Mayflower. Bill adjusts to boring life in a space ship by starting a group of Boy Scouts, and at one point helps the people in his room Not Die by plugging a small hole in the ship with his uniform and pillow until professionals can arrive. On Ganymede things are pretty bad as they're not ready for such a large number if immigrants and the waiting list for equipment and materials to make land farmable is long. George works as an engineer for the colony and they stay in a small place there. Peggy hasn't adjusted well to the lower pressure and spends most of her time in a special room. When he can, Bill begins converting their chunk of land with the help of their experienced neighbors the Schultzes. Slowly and steadily they get some crops going and a basic stone house up so the rest of the family can move in, including a pressured room for Peggy. Eventually a combination of the planetary changes due to terraforming and a push over the edge from an alignment of Jupiter's moons causes a great quake, destroying most people's houses and harming the equipment that helps the moon trap heat. Most of those who don't quickly get to town freeze: ~13K of ~37K survive. Peggy is injured. The Schultzes didn't make it to town, but since they are Well-Prepared, their structure was intact and they had some wood to burn for warmth. George and Molly plan to go back to Earth for Peggy's health, but Peggy dies so that gets scrapped. Eventually George and Molly have twin boys. Bill takes a job as a cook on an expedition to pick a few more sites for Ganymedian communities, and while out on a hike with his buddy Hank they run across some old alien equipment and get stuck in a cave. This is the first sign of other life found on Ganymede, though there are evidently non-spacefaring cultures on Mars and Venus. Bill is in a bad way as his appendix has burst, but Hank manages to figure out how to drive a mechanical centipede walker thing to get him to safety. Bill heals, and George talks to him about why he should go back to Earth for a college education before returning. Bill, though, realizes that by now he loves Ganymede so much he doesn't want to leave.</td></tr>

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