09 January 2010

Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

This is another review I wish I hadn't put off (for months). Oh, well. Here's my review.

Wikipedia efficiently describes the novel, so I'll quote them: "Stranger in a Strange Land is a best-selling 1961 Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human raised by Martians on the planet Mars, upon his return to Earth in early adulthood. The novel explores his interaction with — and eventual transformation of — Earth culture." Here is Mr. Heinlein, looking pretty spiffy:

Robert Heinlein

From the moment I learned the book was about a human "alien" returning to Earth, I was intrigued. Never before had I come across a story-line such as this. The book has an alternate reality: a new government and WWIII has occurred, taxi stations are rooftop and un-manned programmable hover craft have replaced our four-wheeled vehicles.

I think the last alien book I read was Animorphs back in middle school. I may be wrong about that, but nothing else is coming to mind.

Smith, the human "alien" who has returned to our world, has never heard of females, so that was an interesting aspect to the story. Smith was raised in an environment where there was only one gender (male).

Jill was my favorite woman in the story, but my all-time favorite character would be Jubal. He was awesome; the books moral compass and father-figure. Ben is a pretty clever guy. Initially I disliked him because of his trade (reporter types and I are very different), but he grew on me quite a bit. I like to think of him as a spy rather than a reporter; it's more fun that way.

The book's discussion of super-human powers makes me wonder about the untapped portions of the human brain.

I really liked how Heinlein demonstrates thoughts passing through Smith's Martian mind; grokking, translations or not, wanting to keep the peace, going into cataleptic states, controlling his body on different levels.

I enjoyed the Water Brothers concept; it is an important one on Mars. The idea is explained bit by bit as Jill and Smith build their relationship.

I guess that's all I've got given the tardiness of this review. I recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi.


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