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Stranger in a Strange Land Hardcover – January 3, 1991
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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Since I was required to red the uncut version, I did some research to ensure this kindle version was right, and it definitely is not. I had to drive all over town to find what I needed, but. Am now reading them side by side to make notes in my kindle version for reference later, and I can assure you of two things: the kindle version is not uncut, and the uncut version is far richer in language and content and just a better read. Many of the deep philosophical concepts Heinlein included in his novel are simply missing - or abbreviated to the point of near-invisibility - in the edited version. I had been wondering what all the fuss was about, until I retread the first five or six chapters in the uncut copy. This is truly a marvelous novel - if you read the right one.
"SISL was never censored by anyone in any fashion. The first draft was nearly twice as long as the published version. I cut it myself to bring it down to a commercial length. But I did not leave out anything of any importance; I simply trimmed all possible excess verbiage. Perhaps you have noticed that it reads “fast” despite its length; that is why. I WILL FEAR NO EVIL does not read as “fast” because it never received its final trimming; I became extremely ill and could not do it, and would not allow an editor to do it because my stories are fitted together like jigsaw puzzles and it is awfully easy, in trimming, to leave out an essential piece. So I WILL FEAR NO EVIL is not as good a story as SISL, in my opinion--too slow--even though, again in my opinion, what I have said in it is just as important. But I’m pleased enough that I was able to finish it at all; it just missed being posthumous. (Mrs. Heinlein signed the contract; I was too far gone even to write my signature.)
"The original, longest version of SISL is in a fireproof vault of the library of UCSC and can be seen there by any scholar who convinces the special collection librarian that he has a legitimate interest. But it is really not worth your trouble, as it is the same story throughout--simply not as well told. With it is the brushpenned version which shows exactly what was cut out--nothing worth reading, that is. I learned to write for pulp magazines, in which one was paid by the yard rather than by the package; it was not until I started writing for the Saturday Evening Post that I learned the virtue of brevity. (And I am still too wordy in a private communication such as this, or in conversation.)"
(--Robert A. Heinlein to Oberon (Tim) Zell, 2/28/1972, personal correspondence)
It does seem to have an agenda in promoting free love and pantheism, but it wasn't preachy or heavy-handed so it's hard to be too annoyed by that. Indeed, a huge effort was made to portray the protagonists as innocent victims.
While I doubt people would be too bothered by the free love message, the bigger issue is undoubtedly the lack of a robust science fiction atmosphere. And it's not a matter of hard vs. soft science fiction. It's just lack of science fiction content in general. Yes, there is the magic Martian man and his abilities, which are impressive though rarely used. But beyond that there really isn't much going on. It's focused more on dialogue and a sort of anthropological perspective with associated musings on society.
If you've never read this story you should but make sure you keep in context when it was written. Better appreciated if you do.