Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stranger in a Strange Land

Provocative… After almost 50 years, the 1962 Hugo Winner, Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, is still provocative, withstanding the test of time.

Stranger in a Strange Land tells the story of Mike, who is raised by Martians, after his parents, the first explorers to Mars, are killed. The book chronicles his life on earth after he is brought back by the second group of explorers to Mars. Mike is a human bred, Martian nurtured being. The book explores his escape from the prevailing powers, his nurturing by Jubal—a kind, cynical, and wily man, and his experiences living in the real world. It explores issues of religion, social structure, and our limitations as human beings.

Stranger in a Strange Land is definitely not one of my favorite books, but I am glad that I read it. On one hand, it is sexist, homophobic, and way too long for my tastes. I read the original uncut version, making matters a bit worse. On the other hand, Mike and Jubal are likable characters, the ideas make me think, and I feel richer for having read a book that influenced a lot of the thinking of the 1960’s.  “You Grok?”

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