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Stranger in a Strange Land (original 1961; edition 1991)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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5,96387701 (3.84)183
Member:herzogbr
Title:Stranger in a Strange Land
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Ace Trade (1991), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Stranger in a Strange Land (uncut edition) by Robert A. Heinlein (1961)

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Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Stranger in a Strange Land is one of those must-read-if-you-want-to-be-considered-a-lover-of-science-fiction kinda books.

I enjoy a lot of Heinlein’s novels, including his juvenile novels of the 50’s such as Starship Troopers and Space Cadet, as well as his more modern Friday and Methuselah’s Children.

But ‘Stranger’ didn’t hit out of the park.

‘Stranger starts out pretty well, with a ship full of explorers landing on Mars and certain crew members were messing around and there was Valentine Michael Smith. His parents died and he was raised by the local Martians (in some ways reminds me of ‘Tarzan’ origins, but I digress.).

Mike finds his way to Earth and is looked at as an odd addition to the media-crazy government and people out for power – both the religious and the political kind.

Douglas and his wife (who pulls the strings) were great characters. He the most powerful man on Earth and she, manipulating him, create all kinds of trouble for Mike and a rogue reporter called Ben Caxton. And finally Jill, a nurse who happens to run into the ‘Man from Mars’, not knowing that he is not supposed to see women yet.

Heinlein’s characters do tend to be opinionated as I slog through several sarcastic chapters of what his thoughts are on politics, religion and certain mavericks that buck the trend, such as Jubal Hershaw, local curmudgeon.

And the book would not have been half bad if Heinlein didn’t just drop all these great characters once Mike came on the scene and came into his own.

The last half became a long argument about Mike’s new socialist mentality, his use of making people go away and his new religion, of which we have a familiar ending.

We learn words like the Nest, how to Grok and new uses of telepathy and mind over matter. We also learn the true intent of the Old Ones of Mars.

But Robert, why did you leave so many plot holes? What about Douglas? What happened to his wife? The police state government completely backs off, now what?

Bottom Line:

Good book from a historical perspective, and the book is important in how it influenced Heinlein and future dystopia stories, but frankly it was not that great.

The Kindle edition had a few misspellings here and there, but nothing to worry about.


( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
Not sure why I put this on my shelf...
  Moem | Mar 11, 2014 |
First off, the only thing I really knew about this book was that it was mentioned in Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire", so that is to say, I didn't really know anything. I was even surprised to discover that it was sci-fi when my sci-fi/fantasy book club was discussing possible selections. It is indeed sci-fi, but more than that, it is 60s, but I was only able to really get that after I switched from the paperback to the audio book. I liked it better as audio, but I still only liked the parts Jubal was in - didn't really care for any of the other characters. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Nov 22, 2013 |



This is the story of the Man from Mars, Valentine Michael Smith. Michael is all human, the off spring of the first humans to land on Mars. They never made it back home and Michael was raised a Martian. Michael is brought to earth for the first time ever where he encounters a culture and language foreign to him. It is a futuristic novel, looking at the earth in the future. Some things are very futuristic but mostly the novel is the author's excuse for a drawn out social commentary on love (free love) and religion. The story itself had some interesting parts and some of the commentary was also interesting, but enough already. This story could have been a 100 pages less. I thought I was going to give in 4 stars but because it just took tooooo long to finish, it ended up a three star. This book is suppose to be the author's masterpiece. It is suppose to be the father of all sci fi. It supposedly was an incredibly popular novel though I never read it before. It is quite dated. You have to remember that it was published in 1961 so the author was probably working on it in 1960 or even earlier. It is considered a look at the hippie generation; free love, communal living etc. It treats women as pets and servants to men. The book made a good discussion book however, if curious to know more, stop over at 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and read the discussion questions. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
I read the uncut version which is supposed to be different and better than the original published edition.

I can see the vision of this book and while I believe it is noble, it's hard to suspend my own internalized moral code to accept Heinlein's philosophy of what it means to be fully human. Of course, being science fiction, the ultimate potential for the third planet from "Sol" is taken to a higher level of solving problems. For me, there was just a bit too much conscious idolizing, casual sex, manipulation, sexism, and exclusivity among the "good guys".

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot. Lots of interesting/fun ideas. It went downhill from there. I was disappointed in the excesses of the conclusion. Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had read this when I was younger, more flexible and idealistic in my thinking... in the 60's... the make love, not war era. Don't get too excited about a lot of sex though. It is more implied than described. (3.8 stars) ( )
  -Cee- | Oct 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heinlein, VirginiaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Once upon a time when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith.
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Please distinguish this "original, uncut" version of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1991) from its edited first publication (1961). Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441788386, Paperback)

Stranger in a Strange Land, winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars. Michael is raised by Martians, and he arrives on Earth as a true innocent: he has never seen a woman and has no knowledge of Earth's cultures or religions. But he brings turmoil with him, as he is the legal heir to an enormous financial empire, not to mention de facto owner of the planet Mars. With the irascible popular author Jubal Harshaw to protect him, Michael explores human morality and the meanings of love. He founds his own church, preaching free love and disseminating the psychic talents taught him by the Martians. Ultimately, he confronts the fate reserved for all messiahs.

The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leading many children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael's water-brother nests. Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths of his characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook the occasional sour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault."). That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the master's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be. Can you grok it? --Brooks Peck

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young man from Mars comes to Earth & must learn our strange ways. Annotation. One of the greatest science fiction novels ever published, Stranger in a Strange Land's original manuscript had 50,000 words cut. Now they have been reinstated for this special 30th anniversary trade edition. A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons. "A brilliant mind-bender".--Kurt Vonnegut… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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