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Stranger in a Strange Land
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Showing 1-10 of 178 reviews(3 star). See all 1,500 reviews
on December 19, 2015
I love this book, which is quickly becoming one of my all time favorites. But this is definitely not the uncut version.

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.
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on October 2, 2014
As Heinlein himself has said, this is a departure from classic science fiction into grand social commentary. The author definitely attempts to tweak as many 1961 noses as he can. The book is more of an investigation of Heinlein's perspectives on the future and structure of religion than science fiction. As with so many good science fiction authors who's predictions of future technology come true, unfortunately the predictions of the direction of future religion in this book are coming true as well. The cult whose focus is "happiness" as the ultimate goal of the church in the book, rivals some gigantic congregations today focused on the same thing. The erotic part is taking a bit longer to develop. The technology aspects of the book are not inspiring, but the perspective on religion leaves you thinking.
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on October 31, 2016
I first read "Stranger in a Strange Land" while on a college trip with a bus full of hippies, and that's probably the right time in life to devour this book. I do think it is worth the read for contrarian-minded young people, along with Vonnegut et al. But re-reading "Stranger" some 20 years later, I was disappointed.

It's not fair to assess a 1961 novel by the cultural standards of 2016, but even so, the overt sexism of "Stranger" is vastly over the top. Jubal Harshaw essentially keeps a harem, and regularly harasses and fondles his employees. He threatens to spank them and lock them in the basement, and they giggle. Jill Boardman, a professional nurse, is referred to as a "little girl". All the women in the book are merely instruments of the men.

There's also some racism here in descriptions of characters like Assemblyman Kung and most evidently in the case of Mahmoud, a Muslim called "Stinky" for reasons never made clear. Jubal thinks of Mahmoud as a fraud because he dresses and talks like an upper-class Englishman -- which is what he is -- rather than like some cartoon Arab.

Jubal himself is far more annoying than I'd remembered, and takes up much more of the book than I'd remembered. He is another example of Heinlein's dubious libertarian hero, a Manic Pixie Dream Individualist who has multiple degrees and who is renowned in several fields, but who prides himself on being lazy and on alienating almost everyone. Large swaths of the book are taken up with his orations, many of which go unchallenged despite being full of holes. Jubal is an infallible oracle in Heinlein's mind.

Past all that, there is still the wonderful creation of Valentine Michael Smith, Heinlein's Martian world and ethos, and the notion of grokking. These are worthy of a read and of contemplation. But much more of this book is chaff than I had remembered.
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on April 4, 2015
As some have noted here, this science fiction novel is more philosophy than "space yarn." If that interests you, this book may appeal to you more than it did for me.

Like references to "onion skin" paper in other novels set in the future, some of the ideas in this book seem to be stuck in the 1950's. Although set in the future, women are still subservient to male authorities and tent shows with tattooed strippers are an attraction.

I did grasp the larger themes but I struggled to finish the book as it failed to hold my attention. Your mileage may vary.
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on May 2, 2012
Nobody probably read the previous version so I have no problem to modify it a lot. I truly enjoyed the first segment of the book (with Jubal the main protagonist) - probably because I am now in his age group.

Being old and an agnostic (more or less like Jubal), I was unable to read the sex stuff (of no interest at my age) and the religious stuff (deadly boring).

So, I am reducing the original 5 stars to three - this is still a 'classic' that introduced the verb 'to grok' into English language outside science fiction but I would probably enjoy contemporary standard police stories from California more. Too much philosophy by Heinlein can get bit tiresome. Educational, though, for people about 40 -50 years younger than I.
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on December 25, 2016
A very strong start that sort of goes boring and obvious in the resolution.
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on September 5, 2016
Very unusual book. I loved the beginning. The characters were well developed and you could feel the story through their eyes. I did not like how the book progressed and didn't like the end very much at all. Very profound....did make you think.
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VINE VOICEon June 2, 2017
I hate to write a so-so review for an acknowledged classic, but this SF novel shows signs of age, primarily in the use of slang from the time of the writing. For a timeless novel that is supposed to be set in the future, I think it would be safer to avoid slang. Heinlein uses words that used to be popular, but are no more commonly used, which makes it dated. As for the story, I can sort of see why it appealed to the hippie culture. I was in high school in the 60's so I understand the times: communes, alternative religions, free-love, mind-expanding experiences, openness to new ideas. Heinlein makes the reader think, and that is a sign of a good story. I found Jubal more intrieging than the "man-from-Mars." I wonder if this will ever be made into a movie?
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on November 20, 2003
Heinlein's "masterpiece" Stranger in a Strange Land starts off brilliantly. The first 100 pages or so comprise a well-paced absorbing thriller, and even up through the 200-page mark the story remains strong. And then the protagonist Valentine Michael Smith grows up and takes charge of his own life. And the whole novel falls flat on its face and remains thus for the remaining 250 pages.
You see, in the beginning Michael is innocent and somewhat helpless. So he's powerless against his enemies and I naturally rooted for him. Then he slowly began to use his superhuman powers and I became even more absorbed and thrilled, watching him shake off his foes and emerge unscathed. Then he took asylum in a large secured residence with the evil government of the U.S. bent on capturing him and using him for their own ends. Could it get any better, I asked? This was five-star material.
Unfortunately, that's the climax of the story and it comes less than halfway through. The rest is supremely mediocre. Mike becomes a god on earth due to his invulnerability and wealth. What does he do with this status? He basically uses his powers to establish a large harem and teaches others how to do the same thing. The only interesting character in this whole charade is Jubal Harshaw, who probably represents Heinlein himself and his opinions on various matters of philosophy, sex, religion, etc. Two stars here.
Average: three and a half stars but I'm knocking it down to an even three due to the unsatisfying ending.
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on September 30, 2017
I first read this book a looooong time ago, when I was young and impressionable. Unfortunately, I have to say the years have not improved it. I know a little more than I did 50 years ago and no longer admire characters that are thinly disguised versions of the author, complete with misogyny and homophobia. There are pages and pages of preachiness that don't add anything to the book, and actively take away from the story. There is Heinlein's deliberate misunderstanding and misinterpretation of chosen Bible verses to discredit the Bible.

I could go on, but the only redeeming portions of this book are Jubal's interpretation of Rodin's sculptures. Those I could read and reread. The rest of it—meh.
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