Posted in Reviews

Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

stranger in a strange land cover

Title: Stranger in a Strange Land

Author: Robert A. Heinlein

Genre: Science Fiction

This novel tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised from infancy by Martians, who returned to Earth in early adulthood with seemingly magical powers. The novel explores his interaction with—and the eventual transformation of—Earth culture.

2 stars

This started out great and turned into total crap.

I read the original, uncut version of this book. It has five parts:
1. His Maculate Origin
2. His Preposterous Heritage
3. His Eccentric Education
4. His Scandalous Career
5. His Happy Destiny
I loved the first two and I was convinced that the rest would be just as awesome and I’ll write a 5 star review and this will forever be one of my favorite sci-fi books. But no, this is simply yet another book with a good first half and a shitty second half.

Here’s what the story is about: people visit Mars for the first time, everybody dies, twenty years later another group of people visit Mars and they discover that a baby from the first group survived and was raised by Martians. His name is Valentine Michael Smith and he comes back to Earth with them. But it’s obvious that, even though he’s human, he doesn’t act like humans do and he can do plenty of things that humans can’t.

Once upon a time, when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith.
Mike is a fascinating character. He’s very naive; everything is completely different from his perspective (if you give him water, you become his ‘water brother’), he doesn’t know what a woman is. I couldn’t imagine him ever getting used to life on Earth. His conversations with Jubal are my favorite parts of the book. They discuss religion and creation a lot, but the concept of religion is so difficult to explain to somebody who has never heard of it before. It’s the same way with many other things that people try to explain to Mike. It’s quite useless, because he doesn’t think the same way that humans do. The word ‘grok’ is used a lot, it’s probably the most important word in the book, even though nobody seems to completely understand what it means.

The second half of the book has way too much religion for my taste. Pretty much all of the characters go insane. Mike even starts his own church. There’s a big part of the book where characters just talk about how everyone is a god and having sex is a “great goodness”. I got so sick of reading the words “Thou art God”. There were plenty of WTF moments: there’s a lot of sexism and homophobia; “Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it’s a least partly her own fault.” ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS. I though the writing got worse in the second half, too. I understand why the publisher wanted to cut 27% of the book; a lot of it is repetitive, unnecessary and incredibly annoying.

I can’t even express how fucking disappointing this was. How can a book go from being completely awesome to being so horrible and boring. This pisses me of so much. Maybe I should have read the shorter version. I wonder which parts exactly were cut from it. I’ll probably never touch this book again, but at least now I know what people mean when they say ‘grok’.

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