Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. HeinleinStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land

byRobert A. Heinlein

Paperback | October 1, 1991

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The complete, uncut version of Robert A. Heinlein’s all-time masterpiece, the brilliant novel that grew from a cult favorite to a bestseller to a science fiction classic.

Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever...
Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Missouri in 1907, and was raised there. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929, but was forced by illness to retire from the Navy in 1934. He settled in California and over the next five years held a variety of jobs while doing post-graduate work in mathematics and physics at the University o...
Title:Stranger in a Strange LandFormat:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 8.2 × 5.4 × 1.1 inPublished:October 1, 1991Publisher:Berkley Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0441788386

ISBN - 13:9780441788385

Appropriate for ages: 18 - 18


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay This book was really bizarre but still fun to read, although treatments of some topics in the book felt horribly outdate.
Date published: 2018-06-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Weird I guess I should've known better than to dabble in sci-fi, but it was a classic so I figured it should be good. It definitely presents some interesting ideas and things to give thought to, but it got weird. I was not expecting orgies and religion, and I definitely didn't like the way Jubal spoke to his "secretaries" - very demeaning. I get that it was written several decades ago, but the way women was portrayed was ridiculous. And at the end of it all - big surprise - you can still be an old, lecherous dude and still get beautiful women to have sex with you. I only finished it because I was hoping there was some reason it's considered a classic. I still don't know...
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very dated A classic, but very dated. Much of the book just doesn't hold up (especially the treatments of male homosexuality and women). Heinlein has a lot of great ideas, but then lets his personal biases cage them in. I can see why people who read this around when it came out, or as teenagers several decades ago might love it, but there are so many better options on the market now.
Date published: 2018-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not the best option, but good non-the-less Most people focus on the controversy of Heinlein’s approach to sex and women, but the book has different problems (and positive traits) than that focal point. First, readers should consider whether if they are ready to read an old-school science fiction book. The language, the setting, the characters are all portrayals of the era, and it may be a hard read for today’s eyes. Another thing to consider is; if you are new to science fiction, neither Stranger in a Strange Land, nor Heinlein are the best names to start. That said, the book has some solid takes on religion, and relationships. It is a must read for avid science fiction readers, but it is not a masterpiece like Herbert’s Dune, or Asimov’s Foundation. If you are just starting your science fiction career, then starting with Dune, Rendezvous with Rama, or Foundation may be better. Also, Starship Troopers may be a better choice from Heinlein. Just make sure you are ready to be depressed.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from sci-fi and free love I read this for the first time as a teen and read it again recently as an adult. When I first read it, I didn't know what to expect as this was the first Heinlein novel. Now having gone through a few more of his books I am less puzzled now by how the story started vs how it ended.
Date published: 2017-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting challenges to religion and social norms “I was not giving answers. I was trying to shake the reader loose from some preconceptions and induce him to think for himself, along new and fresh lines. In consequence, each reader gets something different out of that book because he himself supplies the answers... It is an invitation to think -- not to believe.” - Robert Heinlein - The idea of the Man from Mars is such a compelling one. In the novel we see that Valentine Michael Smith has the same basic emotions as the rest of the characters, but, having been brought up by aliens, his language and his understanding of reality, his views on life, relationships and death, and even his mental and physical abilities are radically different. This is interesting enough, and I really enjoyed the conversations with and about Mike that seemed to suggest that he had unlocked abilities that were in the potential of all humans. While mostly fantasy, it is possible that we can think in radically different ways due to different upbringings, different languages and understandings of reality. I found this quite interesting. But Heinlein's true purpose is to use Mike's ignorance as a device to challenge the social norms of his time. I originally thought he was expounding his own views on the themes of religion and sexuality, which I found myself in disagreement with and a little ridiculous, but from reading the quote above I now think he was simply putting forth a challenge. This is why I still found the book very thought-provoking, because, really, it didn't matter in what way the man from mars changed society, all that mattered was how he did. Mike is totally convinced by his beliefs and lives his life in total acceptance of them, which is unlike many of the other main characters in the book. This is because he has this ability to "grok" things. To be one with things. An ability that humans don't truly possess or understand, but one that perhaps we are all intrigued by and might wish to live by. To me, the fundamental task of the book was to show that our customs and even some of our morals, and much of our way of life that we take for granted, do not necessarily exist for a logical reason. There is much variability in our belief systems due to our different backgrounds. We are not programmed for one way of life. Much of what we think of as taboo, can be a totally "normal" practice in other cultures. Mike is described as being almost psychopathic by normal standards and insane. And yet eventually the characters attempt to understand him and follow him into a new way of life. In doing so, the author also explores our capacity to change and our resistance to change as well. I suppose in the end to book is questioning what differences can be stripped away from us and what will remain the same. We are given a totally strange character in the man from mars. But we are urged to think if he is all that strange. Is he really alien? His way of life is really only as delusional as some earthlings after all. I remember thinking about the strange character Becky who was into astrology, who was equally as deluded as Mike but somehow much more accepted in society and even looked to for guidance by the Secretary General and his wife. Aren't we perhaps alien to each other in some ways then? Are we capable of changing our beliefs when challenged? Or tolerating others? What are the reasons we would change or hold on to our beliefs? The book is an exploration of these themes, and really what it is to be human. I don't really think the book comes to any conclusion, it is left for the reader to wonder. Perhaps one conclusion that is made by the book is that people can only transition from one way of life into another, they can never be totally free of beliefs and customs. Mike really isn't supposed to be some saviour leading people into the "correct" way to live, because he challenges religions and then simply creates a new one that would not satisfy its followers any more than the ones he's challenged. He transitions people from their belief systems into a radically different one, but the important thing to notice is that at the heart of this way of life remains the same search for meaning as before. People depend on their beliefs for the meaning in their lives, and meaning can be found in many different ways, and its usually through the metaphor and ceremony of religion, not by directly obtaining it. We can really see this clearly in the book because we are presented with something totally new and "alien". The characters follow Mike's way of life only to understand him more, and to be one with each other. After all, he has promised only closeness and oneness, but not real answers. It is funny to think that all these ceremonies are really just attempts at sharing experience, or "grokking" if you will, and this is true of all religions perhaps. Perhaps that is what Heinlein is trying to get at. Our cultures are relative, but our fundamental search of meaning underlies all of them and our need to share experience is what drives them. It isn't the customs in themselves that matter, it is the basic emotions that they appeal to, and we forget that. - One thing that bothered me, and certainly others as well, was the blatant sexism. I am not sure why it needed to be in there, maybe just a sign of its age. It wasn't unbearable enough to ruin the story for me, but it did taint it a bit. If it wasn't present the book would be a lot better.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Owning this book is like knowing a secret knock. There are moments when books, like people, start to reveal their age. This book has its moments. Some of the attitudes towards sex feel like they were very much tied to earlier cultural constraints, for instance. Watch for them--they are interesting to find. But apart from that, this book is solid. Stranger in a Strange Land is one of those books that functions as a mirror, reflecting our strange presumptions and cultural quirks. Yes, it was written in the sixties, and yes, some of the ideas that were groundbreaking at the time are no longer burning issues, but this is still one of those books that creates a foundation. It is not sleek; the characterization is bumpy at times, and the story arc is what it is. But, like most books that are more about the idea than the entertainment, it remains worth reading even 50+ years after it was first conceived. More so if you think of it as a cultural icon. Don't knock it. Grok it?
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book I remember reading the original story and enjoying it. But I enjoyed the book written in the 1990s a bit more. Among one of the better books by this author.
Date published: 2016-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stranger in a Strange Land Forget science fiction, this is one of the finest pieces of literature written in the English language during the last century. This examination of the human condition and utterly inane attitudes towards God, sex, morality and ethical behavior is thought provoking, insightful and highly entertaining. It is a book I revisit every few years and get something new out of it every time.
Date published: 2015-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply the best. This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. Although it's science fiction it still gives you food for thought when it comes to real life and what's happening in the world today.
Date published: 2014-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pretty good story. I very much appreciate the author's good work. Outstanding sci-fi book!
Date published: 2014-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorites... Every time I read this book I discover something new that makes me enjoy it that much more
Date published: 2013-09-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Okay but not Great! I grokked the premise of the Man from Mars and appreciate that when Heinlein wrote this book in 1961 that it was groundbreaking sexual taboos and religious sensibilities. However, I found the book tedious, long and couldn't wait for it to be over. Not a bad story but definitely in need of a editor. Plus, the characters seem one dimensional and cardboardish. It may be a classic but for me it was okay - definitely not a revelation.
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stranger on a Strange Land Remarkably will written. A man so ahead of his times. This is a must read classic. Must read! Until you grok it fully!
Date published: 2013-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Waiting for Fullness Twelve years separated my two readings of Stranger in a Strange Land. The first time I absorbed it in an odd environment, an environment that came close Valentine Michael Smith's Church of All Worlds in conception (well...a summer camp is pushing the point, but it was similar in communalism and sexuality), and I just finished the book again. Now I am married to one of the girls from that camp and we have children. I grok that my personal philosophy was influenced unwittingly by Heinlein's book all those years ago, and now I grok there is much in me that comes in line with Valentine Michael Smith's grokking of life and ethics. What is odd is that I barely remembered Stranger in a Strange Land coming into this second reading. I remember most books I have read before much better. The details were missing in my re-reading, but my grokking of Stranger in a Strange Land's emotional world was deep. I don't use "grok" to be silly either. I use it because it is appropriate. The book often talks about "waiting for fullness" and I imagine I will have to wait for that to come. I will read this again, sooner than I did last time.
Date published: 2008-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A continuing classic This book is an amazing novel, not just for the storyline and writing, but for a political commentary that still challenges notions to this day, and calls into question many of the accepted "norms". A Brilliant read.
Date published: 2006-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A martian named Smith This, hands down, is the literary masterpiece of Heinleins collection. Separated into five parts, and justly so, to some, like myself, it stars off and sustains a slow note. But it isn’t the pace of the book that keeps you wanting to read it through. Like many fine lyrical curiosities it is the development of characters intertwined with the steadily increasing social, political, religious and philosophical epidemic bases it touches, that we all face on a daily bases. But more than that, the farther you purge your intellect unto the pages, and the farther you lose your self in smorgasbord of wit and insight, it is the steady build up to the climax that is not seen until the last twenty-five pages, if that (you have to get through the first five-hundred yourself). Although don’t get me wrong the book, like any other, has it’s up and down moments but it isn’t until the first of five parts of the book is finished that you really get into it. To be more precise it isn’t until the character Jubal Harshaw is introduced, that it gets really intellectually stimulating. I have marked, high lighted, and written foot notes on countless pages regarding the insight and many mind boggling explanations Heinlein has portrayed through this character. Jubal’s depth and unique, but humble, insight into issues large and small is unparalleled throughout any of the literary classics I’ve read of Robert’s work. And for his character alone the book is worth reading. But thankfully it is not the only reason. It is mostly the development of Smith, which many of Jubals explanations are expressed (or situations surrounding Mike), that is intriguing. And his expectance and adjustments to some, sorry, the many subconscious taboo’s of our culture and society and taking that and our only other largest thing we all have in common, aside from descending from cannibals, religion. But it’s the way he converts it, entangled with his experience on this planet, and the endless knowledge of his birth home that makes the last twenty five pages that, I find, almost overwhelming. In conclusions I recommend this book to all. But only those with an open mind and better yet the eagerness, unhurried, but eagerness to GROK. Waiting is……….
Date published: 2005-02-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from 40 Years Later Heinlein's most popular book. Decided to reread it to see how it stands up after 40 years. The book has a great concept -- a human raised by Martians -- which affords good opportunity for satire. (Tennessee passes legislation to make pi equal to 3.) Unfortunately, the core of the book is a collection of tedious Socratic dialogues about sex, religion and politics, peppered with Heinlein's cornball expressions (golly, shucks, durn, hmmpphh, piffle, tut tut, skedaddle, etc). The nest Michael builds is no different than a Playboy mansion -- the women are beautiful, willing, and subservient -- all they need are bunny ears. Conclusion: his juvenile books are better.
Date published: 2004-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book ever Well, judging by the reviews I have read on this site, nobody really understands exactly what was expressed in this book. It is not blunt, nor is it confusing or preachy, but it is an honest look at society through the eyes of not only Michaal, the main character, but also through the eyes of those around him as they realise just how foolish the world is and try to extricate themselves from the very same. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest books I have read, having both humour, satire and a message to everyone. And there's a twist at the end, too. The person who couldn't figure out who Michael was (i.e. Jesus or whomever) obviously didn't finish the book as it is made very clear.
Date published: 2004-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding. An intriguing book. I was a little aprehensive about reading it but am thankfull that I did. The concepts and themes the author explores are still relevant today. It is a book that should be savoured slowly, so that one can Grok or drink in all it has to say. As an agnostic I found its discussion about religion quite frank and honest. Heinlein's writing can be dull at times but his dialogue is second to none. Excellent book, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys thinking.
Date published: 2003-07-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Why did the future look like the 70’s? First published in the early 70’s, this novel was the beginning of the end for Robert Heinlein. It is an excessively long, tedious, very, very preachy advocacy of that obsessive theme of that decade: sexual liberation. By the time Heinlein wrote this he was well into middle age and should have know to his prurient imagination himself – filthy old man! A pity he didn’t keep on writing the likes of ‘Starship Troopers’: short, action-packed, fun – and, yes, with much less flesh that the recent movie version.
Date published: 2000-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Ever Sci-Fi This is an incredible book. I have read it several times, and still find it enjoyable. The book is easy-reading, and explores social issues in a very blunt fashion. Whether you agree with some of the philosophical viewpoints within, or not, the concepts are intriguing. I would recommend this book to anyone. which is why it is listed on my personal site as my favourite book. :)
Date published: 2000-07-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining, if a little preachy Heinlein does not pull punches. He tells you exactly what he thinks about a number of things up to and including evangelists in this entertaining book. It is not really science fiction, but rather a fish out of water observing the human comedy as an outsider. The fact that Valentine Michael Smith was raised by Martians is a quaint notion today, but it doesn't matter if he's a Martian or an orphan raised by wolves. It allows Heinlein to step outside humanity. Some of his points you'll find infuriating, some of them will ring a positive chord. But mostly it's presented in a way to make you think rather than to influence you (the end goes a little overboard in preachiness, but it's not too irritating). Most importantly, it is not dated. The issues it comments on are still relevant today. And it is presented as a highly entertaining story! So kick back and enjoy this book.
Date published: 2000-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What-if and why-not Heralded as one of the most controversial novels of all time, Stranger will definitely turn your 9 to 5 clockwork lifestyle inside out. The 80,000 words that were cut from the original edition shook too many taboos at the time. Even after 38 years, its underlying social commentary still aggravates the mores of a culture that isn't quite as liberal as it thinks it is. Here in Heinlein's greatest work are all the questions about things you always wanted to ask but were too afraid to. Not the answers, because that was never Heinlein's intention. Just what-ifs and why-nots. Take a human, raise him on Mars by Martians, bring him back and insert him into society. You get a classic in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan of the Apes) and Jersey Kozinsky (Being There). If you haven't read Stranger, you should. You will either love it or hate it, but you will never "grok" the world the same again.
Date published: 1999-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Is The Greatest Science Fiction Novel Of All Stranger In A Strange Land to me, is the best science fiction novel I have ever read. It is the story of a man born and raised on Mars who is finally returned to his own race. Humans regard him many different ways. A savior, a freak, etc. You will love the Man from Mars. This is the best sci-fi novel I have ever read.
Date published: 1999-06-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Stranger in a Strange Land a dull read. The hero, Michael, is a man from Mars, and I couldn't decide if he was a bad copy of Jesus, Prometheus or Don Juan. Obviously the author himself was never quite sure. What I detested most about this book is that Michael's naivete and sincerity are obliterated by a writing style that wholly lacks these very qualities, and I mean this in the most disparaging way. On the whole, Heinlein's braggadocio is an absolute bore.
Date published: 1999-03-19

Read from the Book

Part OneHIS MACULATE ORIGINI.ONCE UPON a time there was a Martian named Valentine Michael Smith.The first human expedition to Mars was selected on the theory that the greatest danger to man was man himself. At that time, eight Terran years after the founding of the first human colony on Luna, an interplanetary trip made by humans had to be made in free-fall orbits—from Terra to Mars, two hundred-fifty-eight Terran days, the same for return, plus four hundred fifty-five days waiting at Mars while the planets crawled back into positions for the return orbit.Only by refueling at a space station could the Envoy make the trip. Once at Mars she might return—if she did not crash, if water could be found to fill her reaction tanks, if a thousand things did not go wrong.Eight humans, crowded together for almost three Terran years, had better get along much better than humans usually did. An all-male crew was vetoed as unhealthy and unstable. Four married couples was considered optimum, if necessary specialties could be found in such combination.The University of Edinburgh, prime contractor, sub-contracted crew selection to the Institute for Social Studies. After discarding volunteers useless through age, health, mentality, training, or temperament, the Institute had nine thousand likely candidates. The skills needed were astrogator, medical doctor, cook, machinist, ship’s commander, semantician, chemical engineer, electronics engineer, physicist, geologist, biochemist, biologist, atomics engineer, photographer, hydroponicist, rocketry engineer. There were hundreds of combinations of eight volunteers possessing these skills; there turned up three such combinations of married couples—but in all three cases the psycho-dynamicists who evaluated factors for compatibility threw up their hands in horror. The prime contractor suggested lowering the compatibility figure-of-merit; the Institute offered to return its one dollar fee.The machines continued to review data changing through deaths, withdrawals, new volunteers. Captain Michael Brant, M.S., Cmdr. D. F. Reserve, pilot and veteran at thirty of the Moon run, had an inside track at the Institute, someone who looked up for him names of single female volunteers who might (with him) complete a crew, then paired his name with these to run problems through the machines to determine whether a combination would be acceptable. This resulted in his jetting to Australia and proposing marriage to Doctor Winifred Coburn, a spinster nine years his senior.Lights blinked, cards popped out, a crew had been found:Captain Michael Brant, commanding—pilot, astrogator, relief cook, relief photographer, rocketry engineer;Dr. Winifred Coburn Brant, forty-one, semantician, practical nurse, stores officer, historian;Mr. Francis X. Seeney, twenty-eight, executive officer, second pilot, astrogator, astrophysicist, photographer;Dr. Olga Kovalic Seeney, twenty-nine, cook, biochemist, hydroponicist;Dr. Ward Smith, forty-five, physician and surgeon, biologist;Dr. Mary Jane Lyle Smith, twenty-six, atomics engineer, electronics and power technician;Mr. Sergei Rimsky, thirty-five, electronics engineer, chemical engineer, practical machinist and instrumentation man, cryologist;Mrs. Eleanora Alvarez Rimsky, thirty-two, geologist and selenologist, hydroponicist.The crew had all needed skills, some having been acquired by intensive coaching during the weeks before blast-off. More important, they were mutually compatible.The Envoy departed. During the first weeks her reports were picked up by private listeners. As signals became fainter, they were relayed by Earth’s radio satellites. The crew seemed healthy and happy. Ringworm was the worst that Dr. Smith had to cope with—the crew adapted to free fall, and anti-nausea drugs were not needed after the first week. If Captain Brant had disciplinary problems, he did not report them.The Envoy achieved a parking orbit inside the orbit of Phobos and spent two weeks in photographic survey. Then Captain Brant radioed: “We will land at 1200 tomorrow GST just south of Lacus Soli.”No further message was received.II.A QUARTER of an Earth century passed before Mars was again visited by humans. Six years after the Envoy went silent, the drone probe Zombie, sponsored by La Société Astronautique Internationale, bridged the void and took up an orbit for the waiting period, then returned. Photographs by the robot vehicle showed a land unattractive by human standards; her instruments confirmed the thinness and unsuitability of Arean atmosphere to human life.But the Zombie’s pictures showed that the “canals” were engineering works and other details were interpreted as ruins of cities. A manned expedition would have been mounted had not World War III intervened.But war and delay resulted in a stronger expedition than that of the lost Envoy. Federation Ship Champion, with an all-male crew of eighteen spacemen and carrying twenty-three male pioneers, made the crossing under Lyle Drive in nineteen days. The Champion landed south of Lacus Soli, as Captain van Tromp intended to search for the Envoy. The second expedition reported daily; three despatches were of special interest. The first was:“Rocket Ship Envoy located. No survivors.”The second was: “Mars is inhabited.”The third: “Correction to despatch 23-105: One survivor of Envoy located.”III.CAPTAIN WILLEM VAN TROMP was a man of humanity. He radioed ahead: “My passenger must not be subjected to a public reception. Provide low-gee shuttle, stretcher and ambulance, and armed guard.”He sent his ship’s surgeon to make sure that Valentine Michael Smith was installed in a suite in Bethesda Medical Center, transferred into a hydraulic bed, and protected from outside contact. Van Tromp went to an extraordinary session of the Federation High Council.As Smith was being lifted into bed, the High Minister for Science was saying testily, “Granted, Captain, that your authority as commander of what was nevertheless a scientific expedition gives you the right to order medical service to protect a person temporarily in your charge, I do not see why you now presume to interfere with my department. Why, Smith is a treasure trove of scientific information!”“I suppose he is, sir.”“Then why—” The science minister turned to the High Minister for Peace and Security. “David? Will you issue instructions to your people? After all, one can’t keep Professor Tiergarten and Doctor Okajima, to mention just two, cooling their heels.”The peace minister glanced at Captain van Tromp. The captain shook his head.“Why?” demanded the science minister. “You admit that he isn’t sick.”“Give the Captain a chance, Pierre,” the peace minister advised. “Well, Captain?”“Smith isn’t sick, sir,” Captain van Tromp said, “but he isn’t well. He has never before been in a one-gravity field. He weighs two and a half times what he is used to and his muscles aren’t up to it. He’s not used to Earth-normal pressure. He’s not used to anything and the strain is too much. Hell’s bells, gentleman, I’m dog-tired myself—and I was born on this planet.”The science minister looked contemptuous. “If acceleration fatigue is worrying you, let me assure you, my dear Captain, that we anticipated that. After all, I’ve been out myself. I know how it feels. This man Smith must—”Captain van Tromp decided that it was time to throw a tantrum. He could excuse it by his own very real fatigue, he felt as if he had just landed on Jupiter. So he interrupted. “Hnh! ‘This man Smith—’ This ‘man!’ Can’t you see that he is not?”“Eh?”“Smith . . . is . . . not . . . a . . . man.”“Huh? Explain yourself, Captain.”“Smith is an intelligent creature with the ancestry of a man, but he is more Martian than man. Until we came along he had never laid eyes on a man. He thinks like a Martian, feels like a Martian. He’s been brought up by a race which has nothing in common with us—they don’t even have sex. He’s a man by ancestry, a Martian by environment. If you want to drive him crazy and waste that ‘treasure trove,’ call in your fat-headed professors. Don’t give him a chance to get used to this madhouse planet. It’s no skin off me; I’ve done my job!”The silence was broken by Secretary General Douglas. “And a good job, Captain. If this man, or man-Martian, needs a few days to get adjusted, I’m sure science can wait—so take it easy, Pete. Captain van Tromp is tired.”“One thing won’t wait,” said the Minister for Public Information.“Eh, Jock?”“If we don’t show the Man from Mars in the stereo tanks pretty shortly, you’ll have riots, Mr. Secretary.”“Hmm—You exaggerate, Jock. Mars stuff in the news, of course. Me decorating the Captain and his crew—tomorrow, I think. Captain van Tromp telling his experiences—after a night’s rest, Captain.”The minister shook his head.“No good, Jock?”“The public expected them to bring back a real live Martian. Since they didn’t, we need Smith and need him badly.”“Live Martians?” Secretary General Douglas turned to Captain van Tromp. “You have movies of Martians?”“Thousands of feet.”“There’s your answer, Jock. When the live stuff gets thin, trot on the movies. Now, Captain, about extraterritoriality: you say the Martians were not opposed?”“Well, no, sir—but they were not for it, either.”“I don’t follow you.”Captain van Tromp chewed his lip. “Sir, talking with a Martian is like talking with an echo. You don’t get argument but you don’t get results.”“Perhaps you should have brought what’s-his-name, your semantician. Or is he waiting outside?”“Mahmoud, sir. Doctor Mahmoud is not well. A—A slight nervous breakdown, sir.” Van Tromp reflected that dead drunk was the moral equivalent.“Space happy?”“A little, perhaps.” These damned groundhogs!“Well, fetch him around when he’s feeling himself. I imagine this young man Smith will be of help, too.”“Perhaps,” van Tromp said doubtfully. This young man Smith was busy staying alive. His body, unbearably compressed and weakened by the strange shape of space in this unbelievable place, was at last relieved by the softness of the nest in which these others placed him. He dropped the effort of sustaining it, and turned his third level to his respiration and heart beat.He saw that he was about to consume himself. His lungs were beating as hard as they did at home, his heart was racing to distribute the influx, all in an attempt to cope with the squeezing of space—and this while smothered by a poisonously rich and dangerously hot atmosphere. He took steps.When his heart rate was twenty per minute and respiration almost imperceptible, he watched long enough to be sure that he would not discorporate while his attention was elsewhere. When he was satisfied he set a portion of his second level on guard and withdrew the rest of himself. It was necessary to review the configurations of these many new events in order to fit them to himself, then cherish and praise them—lest they swallow him.Where should he start? When he left home, enfolding these others who were now his nestlings? Or at his arrival in this crushed space? He was suddenly assaulted by lights and sounds of that arrival, feeling it with mind-shaking pain. No, he was not ready to embrace that configuration—back! back! back beyond his first sight of these others who were now his own. Back even before the healing which had followed first grokking that he was not as his nestling brothers . . . back to the nest itself.None of his thinkings were in Earth symbols. Simple English he had freshly learned to speak, less easily than a Hindu used it to trade with a Turk. Smith used English as one might use a code book, with tedious and imperfect translation. Now his thoughts, abstractions from half a million years of wildly alien culture, traveled so far from human experience as to be untranslatable.In the adjoining room Dr. Thaddeus was playing cribbage with Tom Meechum, Smith’s special nurse. Thaddeus had one eye on his dials and meters. When a flickering light changed from ninety-two pulsations per minute to less than twenty, he hurried into Smith’s room with Meechum at his heels.The patient floated in the flexible skin of the hydraulic bed. He appeared to be dead. Thaddeus snapped, “Get Doctor Noel-son!”Meechum said, “Yessir!” and added, “How about shock gear, Doc?”“Get Doctor Nelson!”The nurse rushed out. The interne examined the patient, did not touch him. An older doctor came in, walking with labored awkwardness of a man long in space and not readjusted to high gravity. “Well, Doctor?”“Patient’s respiration, temperature, and pulse dropped suddenly about two minutes ago, sir.”“What have you done?”“Nothing, sir. Your instructions—”“Good.” Nelson looked Smith over, studied instruments back of the bed, twins of those in the watch room. “Let me know if there is any change.” He started to leave.Thaddeus looked startled. “But, Doctor—”Nelson said, “Yes, Doctor? What is your diagnosis?”“Uh, I don’t wish to sound off about your patient, sir.”“I asked for your diagnosis.”“Very well, sir. Shock—atypical, perhaps,” he hedged, “but shock, leading to termination.”Nelson nodded. “Reasonable. But this isn’t a reasonable case. I’ve seen this patient in this condition a dozen times. Watch.” Nelson lifted the patient’s arm, let it go. It stayed where he left it.“Catalepsy?” asked Thaddeus.“Call it that if you like. Just keep him from being bothered and call me if there is any change.” He replaced Smith’s arm.Nelson left. Thaddeus looked at the patient, shook his head and returned to the watch room. Meechum picked up his cards. “Crib?”“No.”Meechum added, “Doc, if you ask me, that one is a case for the basket before morning.”“No one asked you. Go have a cigarette with the guards. I want to think.”Meechum shrugged and joined the guards in the corridor; they straightened up, then saw who it was and relaxed. The taller marine said, “What was the excitement?”“The patient had quintuplets and we were arguing about what to name them. Which one of you monkeys has a butt? And a light?”The other marine dug out a pack of cigarettes. “How’re you fixed for suction?”“Just middlin’.” Meechum stuck the cigarette in his face. “Honest to God, gentlemen, I don’t know anything about this patient.”“What’s the idea of these orders about ‘Absolutely No Women’? Is he a sex maniac?”“All I know is they brought him in from the Champion and said he was to have absolute quiet.”“ ‘The Champion!’ ” the first marine said. “That accounts for it.”“Accounts for what?”“It stands to reason. He ain’t had any, he ain’t seen any, he ain’t touched any—for months. And he’s sick, see? If he was to lay hands on any, they’re afraid he’d kill hisself.” He blinked. “I’ll bet I would.”

From Our Editors

One of the greatest science fiction novels ever published, Stranger in a Strange Land's original manuscript had 50,000 words cut. Now they have been reinstated for this special 30th anniversary trade edition. A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons. "A brilliant mind-bender".--Kurt Vonnegut

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Robert A. Heinlein and Stranger in a Strange Land“One of the grand masters of science fiction.”—Wall Street Journal“A brilliant mind-bender...Wonderfully humanizing......Some 60,000 words that were cut from Heinlein’s manuscript for economy back in 1961 are at last taking their rightful place in the body of world literature.”—Kurt Vonnegut, The New York Times Book Review “Certainly among the most fiction novel[s] of all time.”—The Guardian“This book was destined to become a bestseller, shaping the sensibilities of a generation...The uncut novel more explicitly exhibits the author’s views on human sexuality, women’s issues, and geopolitics.”—The Boston Globe“One of the most popular science fiction novels ever published.”—Library Journal