Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land

byRobert A. Heinlein

Kobo ebook | May 15, 1987

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Robert Heinlein's Hugo Award-winning 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...

Title:Stranger in a Strange LandFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:May 15, 1987Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101208961

ISBN - 13:9781101208960

Reviews

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