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Stranger in a Strange Land [Paperback]

Robert A. Heinlein
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Mar 2005

Epic, entertaining, Stranger in a Strange Land caused controversy and uproar when it was first published.

Still topical and challenging today, the story of Valentine Michael Smith, the first man from Mars to visit Earth, is in the great tradition of stories that endure through the power of the author's imagination that stretches from Gulliver's Travels to 1984

Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New edition edition (14 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340837950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340837955
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 11.1 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,055,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'The best of his many books and the best in the genre' (Washington Post ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Now stunningly repackaged the original uncut edition of Stranger in a Strange Land by Hugo Award winner Robert A Heinlein: the most generally celebrated science-fiction novel of all time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest dreadful book you'll ever read 26 Oct 2008
By Simon Brooke VINE VOICE
I'm not for a moment going to try to defend the literary merit of Heinlein's work. This is, truly, a dreadfully badly written book, a book which cries out for harsh editing. And yet I felt it necessary to write a review to counterbalance those which precede me here, because, although this is a bad book, it's a truly great bad book. It's a book that anyone interested in twentieth century popular culture should read, and a book which will remain the subject of serious literary debate long after all the Booker Prize winners are forgotten.

The reviewers who say this book is too long are right. The reviewers who say it's badly written are right. The reviewers who say it is sexist are... missing the point. Yes, one of the protagonists, who seems to be Heinlein's alter ego, is astonishingly misogynist.

But that's part of why this novel is interesting. It's a visceral satire on the values and mores of Middle America of its day - and, given that Middle America changes only slowly, it still reads true of Middle America today. Sarah Palin might burn it - and has good reason to fear it.

It's a book stuffed with ideas, many of which are very funny; and it's a book with, despite its surface misogyny, a very interesting exploration of gender relations and gender politics which still bears reading. Overall, I strongly recommend that - if you've any interest in a literature of ideas, in the tradition of satire in English letters - you read this book. It's the very best dreadful book you will ever read.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Upsetting the Apple-carts 28 Dec 2003
This book is Heinlein's most famous effort, still selling very well today in both its original (1961) 'cut' version, and in the 'uncut' version (about 60,000 words longer), released after his death by his wife, Virginia Heinlein. It is an extremely complex satirical book, with multiple literary and philosophical allusions and referents, and with attacks and comments on many of the basic tenents of American life and social structure, including sex, love, marriage, politics, government, religion(s), economics, tattoos, art, writing, astrology, journalism, TV, military, inheritance laws, cannibalism, prejudice, prisons, and carnival life. Heinlein's aim was for this book to create questions about all of a reader's basic assumptions, to gore every sacred cow, to upset all the apple-carts. In some ways, he succeeded beyond his dreams, as the book was 'adopted' as their bible by many of the '60s counter-culture movement, even to the point that several churches were established with this book as their basis (most notably the Church of All Worlds). Heinlein himself was rather terrified by this use, as he never intended the book to provide answers, only to force questions.

The plot line is fairly simple: A child born to the first Martian expedition, Valentine Michael Smith ("Mike"), is raised by the Martians and brought back to Earth as a young man, where he receives a rather eccentric education into the ways of man by those who befriend him. Once he feels that he understands humanity, Mike undertakes to educate humans in the philosophy of "Thou art God" in such a way that the truth of that statement is a provable tautology. As such, he becomes a self-proclaimed messiah, with the usual fate of messiahs that upset everyone's idea of what is 'right'.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction's greatest achievement 4 Dec 2002
Reviewing Stranger in a Strange Land is quite a challenge. Is it the best science fiction novel ever published? I would say yes. Is it my favorite? No; it's not even my favorite Heinlein novel. To add a little more irony to the pot, Heinlein himself insisted that the book is not really science fiction to begin with. Stranger really marks a huge turning point in Heinlein's career. Unhappy with the brand of "juvenile" writer and the editing that position constantly entailed, Heinlein was determined to write a truly adult novel, one with no taboos, no limits, and no restrictions of any kind. With Stranger in a Strange Land he accomplished that in spades, basically taking on the heretofore sacrosanct subjects of sexuality and religion. Heinlein was not sure that anyone would even publish this story that took him 12 years to write; what was published was a mere figment of the original manuscript, 60,000 words having been cut out. Even though Heinlein did the editing himself, it had to have felt like jabbing an ice pick into his own heart to do it. Thankfully, we can now read the complete, original manuscript the way Heinlein intended the story to be told.
The plot is deceptively simple. The first manned mission to Mars never made it home to Earth. The second mission, twenty years later, found Valentine Michael Smith, an infant born on Mars and the only surviving member of the ill-fated first mission. Having been raised by Martians, Smith is literally a stranger in a strange land when he is brought back to earth with "miraculous" abilities and a Martian philosophy of life. The Federation government basically hides him away from prying eyes, partly in fear of the legal and political dangers posed by his unique status.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A wonderful book I love it
Published 2 days ago by davidjoker
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Disappointing compared to, say, 'The Green Hills of Earth' and 'Space Cadet"
Published 10 days ago by Barrie W Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a must read
Published 22 days ago by phil ashman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Heinlein writes like no other, a brilliant concept well delivered
Published 26 days ago by Mark&Tina
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
classic tale
Published 1 month ago by richard surch
5.0 out of 5 stars as expected a good nay essential read
mighty fine book and a classic of radial thinkingwhich made hippys the world over... some great provoctive things to say about religionof course
Published 1 month ago by kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Meaty, but worth the glut.
Took me a good few years to come back around to this book after putting it down in my teens. Glad I revisited it as the story and subject both light then layered, characters deep... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lewis Bullock
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, they don't make them like this anymore
Amazing, such a cutting commentary on humanity. When he describes what laughter really means, I still think about that when I hear people laughing now... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Book wyrm
5.0 out of 5 stars good
I have read this book once before and I am very please with this form of the book. The one book I am looking for is TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE by Heinlein, can you help.
Published 6 months ago by myers207
3.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking if a little dated
Time has overtaken this as Mars is now barren. But the concept is good and the lack of sci-fi technology makes it easy to absorb. A decent read!
Published 6 months ago by L
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