Read it as it came out in serialized form. It’s definitely a YA – most notably in its One Essential Young Man theme (we need more YA SF with female leads, everyone) and the eventual Enhanced Animal Companion – but his solution to how to build an interplanetary culture is definitely a Big New Idea, replacing the need for an unreasonably fast spacecraft drive with several large-but-not-as-unlikely breakthroughs and a not-wholly-unreasonable semi-accidental social change. Worth reading.
(Schroeder’s Cat is neither alive nor dead – it’s hibernating.)
Now, I know for a fact that the only reason he’s still on that cat tree is because he’s nailed there!
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