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Stranger in a Strange Land Paperback – Jan 14 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Trade; Reprint edition (Jan. 14 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441788386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441788385
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.9 x 3.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (454 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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ONCE UPON A TIME when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman on Dec 28 2003
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-
teller.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ritesh Laud on Nov. 20 2003
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "jac348" on Feb. 8 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved the first half of this book, in which plot and character rose to the fore. Great action sequences, terrific dialogue, and tons of suspense tricked me into thinking that this was a five star novel. Jubal Harshaw in particular was--and remains--one of the most richly realized characters in contemporary fiction. Alas, the novel quickly sags beneath the weight of its own socio-political and pseudoreligious philosophies. The plot thins, the action comes to a screeching halt, the characters flatten into cardboard, and the rest of the novel becomes so self-consciously preachy and churchy and utterly unsexy (despite the frequent nudity and bedhopping) that it lost all appeal to me. Less politics, more plot. I could grok that, anyday.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Vuren on Dec 23 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is too light-weight too be a classic. I admire Heinlein for being daring enough to say things in 1961 that are obvious to many of us now, e.g. most people are easily fooled, religion is ridiculous, the Bible has parts which are bizarre, all governments place preserving their power above serving their citizens, there is no absolute moral basis for monogamy, homosexuality is fine, etc. I think Heinlein understood the world fairly well. For the most part he was properly critical about it, without being universally cynical. However his statement, "Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault." is impossible to overlook. You can say, "Well, he was just being cynical about men and saying that any intelligent woman should be able to see how dangerous they can be and plan accordingly.", but I think that's a stretch. The Occam's Razor answer is that Heinlein was something of a misogynist. As we all know, misogynists see things in overly simple terms. This book is light-weight because it makes simplistic observations. For instance, I just don't think sexual jealousy is a major contributor to the troubles of the world. Heinlein makes shallow, impractical, utopian recommendations for how to fix things. Sure we could do without sexual jealousy but Heinlein fails to see that it can't be eradicated because it's genetic(babies get jealous). Did Heinlein really think that having us all sleep with each other would eliminate war? This reminds me of people who say that if we all smoke pot there will be no crime, war, etc. I think Heinlein was impractical about religion too.Read more ›
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