Stranger in a Strange Land

Thoughts siaslbyrh by Robert Heinlein, Blackstone Audio 2009 (orig 1961), 16 hours 21 minutes

Narrated by Christopher Hurt.

FOR CLASSIC CLUB – might fit the humor category of the the Classics Challenge, too?  (or maybe not)

What is this ABOUT:  A child had been born to a Mars Exploration team and was eventually brought back to Earth – he really does not have any idea of his Earthly human heritage but once secured into a place with humans who allow him to thrive and learn, he manages to REALLY get carried away with combining his Mars knowledge with what it means to be human.

It’s a wild ride and after reading Atlas Shrugged immediately prior, it was especially philosophically wild.

I am still trying to wrestle with the concepts and ideas between the two books AND the idea that the books were written a few years apart. Honestly, Atlas Shrugged holds up better. Stranger definitely had a 60s feel to it.

How lucky for our Martian friend that he met Jubal Harshaw! Otherwise, the story would be vastly different. In fact, this book is more a book about Jubal than Michael from Mars.

Finally, a science fiction book about space travel and aliens! I listened to this on a trip from North Carolina to Rhode Island. I didn’t quite have enough road to finish the book, but walking the pups around Newport afforded me the opportunity to finish the book without too much delay.

The first third is rollicking fun!

The next third was rather tedious when it gets bogged down in religion – though very cleverly explained.

The last third was the eye-rolling WTH!? free-love craziness and to be totally honest, I don’t even remember how it ends. Happy ever after? Golly, I really do not recall.

I expect a lit class on this text would be enlightening and hot with discussion. I almost stopped the car on one tiny but powerful little hiccup about rape but I had to just power through and though not forgive – I am just trying (and obviously failing) to pretend he really didn’t say that. Ugh. Heinlein seems to say that women can be smart and do whatever they want; of course, they are quite capable but they really only want to be loved, be pretty and have babies. Despite that…

RATING:  I rate it 4 stars. I don’t think this book would appeal to many of my friends but it was fascinating and it is one more title I am glad to say that I finally ‘know’ and can say, “Yep, read it.”




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17 thoughts on “Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. Wait, the author, Heinlein, is not making generalizations about women. Jubal Harshaw pretends to be an old curmudgeon and spouts some of those ideas, which his “secretaries” reveal to be nonsense. The novel is very much of its era, the sixties, and the “free love” is part of empowering women of the time, who were boxed in (think of the snake girl from the circus) by antiquated ideas of what it meant to be female. Some of those are coming back today. Think of what a female Heinlein character would say about “slut shaming”!

    1. Thank you! I was hoping you would see my review because I KNEW you would have an interesting comment.
      I don’t recall who was having the conversation when that rape comment was dropped – probably Jubal and the reporter guy and that certainly could have slut-shaming edges to it, but I don’t think any of the secretaries were in the room. You are right, – they probably would have had a succinct rebuttal to contribute. But it still felt dropped in and I didn’t like it. I don’t recall how the snake woman was ‘boxed’ in. But they (female characters) all seemed to be in service to men in every ‘scene’, given perhaps that all made their choice to be so. PERHAPS, it was also because I had just read about one of the strongest females with ambition in literature: Dagny Taggart.

  2. I was not a fan of Stranger in a Strange Land. But I didn’t think about how the first third of the book was actually really good! If you feel like trying Heinlein again some other time, I would suggest Starship Troopers. It’s like the anti-Stranger, being very much about patriotism to your nation and what it means to be a citizen and stuff. It’s kinda crazy that the same guy wrote both books!

  3. How did this and Atlas Shrugged compared? I read some where that their politics are similar. I’ve read Stranger, but too many year ago to remember anything but a vague scene about the arrangement of a negotiation table (does it ring a bell?).

    1. well, certainly, there are similar themes of Individualism and freedom from Govt Intervention. The only negotiation table I remember is how Jubal pulled the rug out from under the competitive forces by inviting everyone to the table and then rigging it to seem like those who wanted something actually GOT what they wanted, but he had all loose ends tied up to be advantageous to the Martian ultimately. It was a strategic negotiation with much planning. Very much the lesson on how disarm someone with the win-win where the competition must give to get and has to lump it or like it. Where in Atlas Shrugged, there was little negotiation – the ones with the toys just left and let the losers try to figure it out without the brains and resources.

  4. You’ve definitely left me intrigued. And then more so after after reading Jeanne’s comment. The only book of his I’ve read it The Moon Is a Strange Mistress, which I enjoyed quite a bit (even though I can’t remember many details at this point). I think I really might have to give this one a go soon.

  5. I haven’t read this one, but I read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by the same author. I had a similar reaction. Some of the book was fun, some was thought-provoking, but there was also an overwhelming tone about women that didn’t quite sit well with me. I do think I’ll still read this one and I might like it better now that I know what to expect from him.

  6. I really need to read this one again. The details aren’t coming back to me. I seriously need to keep blogging just so I can remember what I thought about a book. LOL. Actually, I can remember liking it jut not the details.

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