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Stranger in a Strange Land/30th Anniversary, Uncut Version Hardcover – Jan 1991

4.1 out of 5 stars 456 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Jan 1991
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Putnam Pub Group (T); Anv edition (January 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399135863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399135866
  • Product Dimensions: 24.5 x 4.2 x 16.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 456 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #238,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Heinlein conceived STRANGER in 1948, but didn't finish it until
1960. His editor asked him to cut it from 220,000 to 150,000 words; as
published it was 160,087. It was reissued from the original
manuscript in 1991, and I just got around to reading this "uncut"
edition. I first read STRANGER in the early sixties -- it's the only
"major" Heinlein I'd never reread (unless you count _To Sail the
Sunset Sea_ as major).
STRANGER hasn't aged well. Ostensibly set in the 21st century, it
reads like the 1950's. News commentators are "winchells" and
"lippmans" -- I recognize the names, but remember nothing else
about the originals; do you? The bad guys and minor characters are
purest cardboard. Women ("bims") have the "liberty permitted cats
and favorite children"; homosexuals are "poor in-betweeners". The
world beyond the USA is almost invisible.
Jubal Harshaw, the writer, patriarch and "father of all", is a self-
indulgent know-it-all given to long, hectoring speeches. The
women are quick to shed clothing and inhibitions, and couple with
any water-brother. They grow younger, more beautiful -- and more
exhibitionist -- as they learn Martian mind-control. Feh.
And yet, and yet .... STRANGER still works as a novel -- I reread it
pretty much at one go. The idea of a child raised from infancy by an
alien race ... Valentine Michael Smith's journey from innocence to
full humanity to New Messiah ... the cheerfully crass
commercialism of the Church of Foster ... the silly-but-serious
mysticism ... Heinlein, whatever his flaws, was a master story-
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've heard it said that if you haven't read 'Stranger in a Strange Land' you really haven't read Robert Heinlein. I've read a number of his books, and his best in my mind is probably 'Starship Troopers'. But I'd never read this one, so decided to do so. Let me say that I agree with the general reviews I've seen on here. The first 1/2 of the book is a wonderful story about a boy raised among Martians, who develops some extraordinary powers and is then brought to Earth where he struggles to understand the human race. It had so many great things about it. Suspense, Humor, Action, etc. Jubal Harshaw (my favorite character in the book) was also one of the chief reasons to like this story.
The problem is that the book just dissolves after the first 1/2. When Michael Valentine Smith leaves Jubal's home, he goes through a number of incarnations, first as a carnival huckster, then finally ending up as a 'New Age' messiah. The similarities to the life of Jesus are inescapable. My problems with this aren't merely that I strongly disagree with Mr. Heinlein's philosophies that all religions are equally valid and that all of them are 'made up' to one degree or another, but instead my problem is that he spends the better part of the book writing endless philosophical dialogues that have nothing to do with anything other than trying to force his viewpoints down our throat.
I think that everyone has a right to their opinion, and I think that Mr. Heinlein certainly had the right to put his opinions in his own novel. I can further see why this book was so popular in the 60's (especially the 'Thou art God' line). But, for me, this really wasn't a novel as much as it was a philosophy book with a bit of story thrown in as vehicle to let the author tell you what he believed.
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