Stranger in a Strange Land

The first book I am going to review is “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert A. Heinlein.  In my early days of reading science fiction, I tended to steer away from the classic Sci-Fi writers.  Not because I did not appreciate their contribution to the genre, but because their stories were often dated by the time I came around to reading them.

Robert A. Heinlein was one of those authors.  Until a few years ago, I had not read a single word of any of his works.  Not even a short story.  Then I discovered he was the genius behind “Starship Troopers”, which I will review at a later date.

“Stranger in a Strange Land” was one of the hardest books I ever read.  In fact, I put it down for a while, and it was in danger of becoming the second book I started, and never finished.  Not because the writing was poor.  After all, Heinlein is a legend.  It was the gumshoe style it was written in that made it difficult.  It started out as one of those fifties, investigative reporter, private detective books.  It was also a platform for Heinlein to espouse his view on everything from politics, to religion, and socioeconomics, among others.  Because of that, there were times where a character went off on a tangent, and for a moment, the flow of the story was interrupted.

There was also the technology issue.  Autonomous air cars are not the norm yet, but back in the sixties, no one even considered something as pervasive as the Internet.  Hell, the book I wrote back in the early nineties had no consideration for wearable technology or tablets.  However, Heinlein’s references to technology are not crux of the story, so they are easy to ignore.

For those of you who do not know, “Stranger in a Strange Land” is about a man who is human, but was born on Mars, and raised by Martians.  Valentine Michael Smith (the Mars born human) returns to earth as a very young adult, and goes through a transition as he tries to learn and adapt to human society.  Early in this transformation, he is rescued from the government by a nurse who works in the hospital holding Michael, and comes under protection of a lawyer/doctor/writer.  It is this character that Heinlein uses to illustrate his views on many facets of society.  Eventually Mike finds his own way and becomes a force in his own right.

What he does, once he becomes fully aware, you will have to read it and find out.  Even though I didn’t enjoy reading the book, I like the book’s message.  As I read through the final chapters, I thought, “Wow, what a great message.  Why did it take so long to get there?”

If you like classic literature, and want to get a different viewpoint on a lot of topics, but this book and start reading.

Hell you might like it.