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Stranger in a Strange Land (original 1961; edition 1963)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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8,115109391 (3.93)318
Member:cjahnke
Title:Stranger in a Strange Land
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Putnam Adult (1963), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 408 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Mars, religion

Work details

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein (1961)

  1. 30
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (persky)
    persky: An earlier book with a lot of parallels to this one, particularly in terms of the "Mike" protagonists.
  2. 10
    Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Near-future SF centered on a Christian-type messiah from an unforeseen quarter. Both books combine satire with sentimentality, and neither caters to conventional piety.
  3. 00
    Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (hyper7)
  4. 00
    The Book from the Sky by Robert Kelly (bertilak)
  5. 00
    Steel Beach by John Varley (lesvrolyk)
  6. 01
    Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (kelliente)
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» See also 318 mentions

English (103)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  All (109)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Set in the distant future, a man raised by Martians comes home to Earth and must learn what it means to be human. This book was first published in 1961, and while the story is beautifully crafted and very thoughtful, it has not aged well.

In its time, it was probably very socially progressive. The women in the story are all well educated and sexually liberated, and there is racial diversity (to a point) among the mission crew that brings "the man from Mars" back to Earth. But there's where the progressiveness ends.

One of the main characters is a retired-lawyer-turned-writer who lives in a luxurious home tended by three "secretaries," all women, in a set up that would make Mad Men's Don Draper proud. One of the three women is fully qualified lawyer and a professional "fair witness" yet she has chucked in her own career to work as a secretary-housekeeper. None of these women -- one blond, one red-head, and one brunette -- have any life outside of their boss' compound. When 2 of the women turn up pregnant, there are only 3 possible suspects: all of whom work and live at the house. These women seem to have no relationships outside of their boss-father's home and approval.

When the man from Mars is beginning to learn about sexuality (Martians are sexless), his friends are careful to not teach him shame about sex (at least when it comes to relationships with women), However, it is openly discussed that he should be "kept away" from homosexuals and not be permitted to learn about homosexuality or bisexuality. Conveniently, the man from Mars himself turns out to be straight. There are clearly no LGBTQ rights in 1961's "distant future."
1 vote Gayle_C._Bull | May 7, 2017 |
A thought provoking read, I reflected upon the author's meaning for several days before writing this. There appear to be several themes: free love, individualism and the tendency of human government to dominate. So, in addition to a science fiction theme, there are political and social messages also. The impact of religion upon the human condition is also evident. Could this book also be precursor to integration with others in the galaxy? More Heinlein.... ( )
  buffalogr | Mar 4, 2017 |
I didn't grok this ( )
  Baku-X | Jan 10, 2017 |
Loved it. The development of the main character is very well done, and his strangeness is very well described. I would have given it 5 stars, but I really have to subtract 1 star for the absolutely disgusting remark of one of the women (!) who states that in most cases, if a woman gets raped, it is partially her fault. Really?!? Eugh... It's such a shame, because I really liked almost everything else. ( )
  zjakkelien | Jan 2, 2017 |
I just re-read this book after 45 years. Its still a great thought-provoking read. While few of the concepts are a little stale, most of the book is still very fresh and resonating. One aspect I didn't pick up during my first reading is that the patriarchal character of Jubal is the voice of Heinlein -- an elderly, somewhat chauvinistic author who is very self-confident and obsessed with employing young women to help him. America was a much more religious country when Stranger was written, yet the books observations of religion -- especially fundamentalist ones -- still hold true. ( )
  exfed | Nov 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert A. Heinleinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boyle, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gällmo, GunnarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santos, Domingo,Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warhola, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Robert Cornog
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Once upon a time there was a Martian by the name of Valentine Michael Smith.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish this edited first publication of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) from the "original, uncut" version (1991). This would be ISBN #s 0-399-13586-3, 0-450-54267-X and 0-441-78838-6 and Science Fiction Book Club editions of 1991 (#17697 and a leather bound edition). There is a 60,000 word difference between the two. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441790348, Mass Market 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:51 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The epic saga of an earthling, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with superhuman powers and a total ignorance of the mores of man.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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