My horoscope promised mind zapping and what happens, I step into a wad of chewing gum. - The floor marquetry indicates Ouija board magic. Why use a Foucault pendulum when you can roll knucklebones just as easily. The fox-trotting fugleman has just flunked his Romberg's test. Big Vishna nod of approval: son, it ain't easy but you can do it. As for the actual script, there is always a superior sheep dip (much ado about tapeworms). Synoptic reading: the Homeric scriptures mention metempsychosis and a drove of pigs. The alternative is fire exorcism (Hal Clement, Needle). Whatever will look good or less bad in the eye of a wayward incubus. All clear, no more killer tomatoes, no more zombie check ups from the nape of the neck downwards.
Le roi est mort, vive le roi (the show must go on). Any association with Greek tradegies (use of character masks) is incidental and even misleading. The required task will shape the character in due time.
The cover shows one of the best known episodes of the book. Posit, you can survive a bitter cold Martian night if you bivouac inside a century plant (the text has 'desert cabbage'). Once it was hollow trees and hay stacks and the gutted carcasses of giant herbivores. The tricky part is oxygen. To the best of my understanding: the face masks and breathing apparatus (cover interpretations vary) only serve to humidify the dry, Martian air. There is possibly some compression but no oxygen is added. Jim has to play his flashlight across the leaves of the makeshift pup tent in order to stimulate photosynthesis and hence oxygen production. Problem: the number of photons striking the walls of any vessel which is completely enclosed - no Klein Bottle loophole - will be independent of the particular shape of this vessel (be it a wrinkled tesserate, a smooth beachball or an acute angled pentagram). Without the dimensional ramifications, there will be no incentive for the plant to adopt a particular shape (spherical in the occurance) to optimize photon interception. There might be ways to make it fitting. - Candela differentials are also ignored. Prosaically, the cone of light emitted from a flashlight will not illuminate the interior surface of a sphere evenly. - Lifestyle issues: Scribner's proofreader did object to firearms. Heinlein did make amends (proper licensing is grudgingly mentioned). The lobster blasting is now legal > (Lobster blasting). Innocently, the skullduggeries of the corrupt headmaster are in a different league. A self defense plea would not stand. (Gun control is discussed in some length in 'Grumbles from the Grave'. Slingshots are used in 'Orphans in the Sky'.)
I do not understand the bonsai tree but the backdrop shows a cryogenic tank. You can wangle a free ride for a cat from the purser in charge (it will just cost a little extra). The novel is notable in at least one respect, two completely independent methods for time traveling are used concurrently. Sardonically, upstream, downstream our two millennia pass covers all. - The crystal ball views of the 21st century are flawed. The novel introduces work saving gadgets which strongly resemble glorified pantograph machines.