Title: Stranger in a Strange Land
Author: Robert Heinlein
Publisher: Ace 1991
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Reading Challenges: Science Fiction; A to Z – H; My Years – 1991; Mount TBR
How I Got It: I own it!
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.
Overall this book was amazing. I can see why J and others have been hounding me to read it. Usually, I can speed through a book, getting lost in the world. With this one, I found myself having to go back and reread passages to grasp what was transpiring. Heinlein has overlaid so many stories and so many messages into one book. There’s passages about religion, philosophy, psychology, science, political science, gender and sex, and many more topics. I loved the variety of each chapter. It’s taken me some time to get through it (and I don’t understand it all yet) and really come away with a couple of new perspectives and confirmations on some others. My only caution to others is that it is a dense book. I encourage others to read it, but it probably isn’t the best introduction to science fiction and Heinlein. You might want to start with Have Spacesuit-Will Travel or Ender’s Game. Either one is a bit lighter on the science and philosophy.
“Jubal, are you telling me that I ought not to criticize the administration> When they’re wrong? When I know they’re wrong?” “Nope. Gadflies such as yourself are utterly necessary. Nor am I opposed to ‘turning the rascals out’ — it’s usually the soundest rule of politics. But it’s well to take a look at what new rascals you are going to get before you jump at any chance to turn your present rascals out. Democracy is a poor system of government at best; the only thing that can honestly be said in its favor is that it is about eight times as good as any other method the human race ever tried. Democracy’s worst fault is that its leaders are likely to reflect the faults and virtues of their constituents–a depressingly low level, but what else can you expect? So take a look at Douglas and ponder that, in his ignorance, stupidity, and self-seeking, he much resembles his fellow Americans, including you and me… and that in fact he is a notch or two above the average. Then take a look at the man who will replace him if his government topples.” (page 232)