This book is a groundbreaking novel. I brought Science Fiction literature into the 60s, espousing free love and polygamous marriage years before they were recognized by the main stream.
40 years later the themes seem a little tame but that is because of the contribution this book made to the genre.
A note to other reviewers: Science Fiction is more than rocketships and rayguns. This book is a satirical social commentary.
Very well done. The voice of the reader in conveying Jubal Harshaw was great and added a lot to the story for me. I have read the book many times over the years and it simply doesn't age. This reading of the book was very well done and I enjoyed it very much!
Christopher Hurt did the best job he could with the dull material he had to work with.
I wanted to like this book. It’s been praised as a sci-fi classic for decades, but it fell short for me. This book is not about the man from Mars. It’s about Jubal - - his self-absorbed thoughts, sanctimonious beliefs, slangy insights, and his tedious knowledge of law, medicine, and religion, and sex. I lost interest very early and didn’t care much about any of the characters. Stick figures propped up to carry heavy symbolism. The story really goes nowhere. Michael Valentine Smith is really a serial killer who hasn’t groked that you don’t make people disappear when you want to stop them.
Jill and Ben held some interest for me early on, but in the end, they toppled like stick figures. It’s amazing to me that no cameras captured MVS escaping from his room. There was a camera spying on the old woman, but not on MVS. This is really a pseudo-intellectual romp through terrain that is boring and tedious. The General Assembly nonsense become atrociously dull and trite and the ownership of Mars was pure nonsense. Lots of wasted words on things that were beat to death. What an irony that Jubal uses metaphoric jargon and slangy triteness to express his ideas to MVS - - who only understands the world literally. Pure nonsense.
In the end the book left me empty and unfulfilled. I usually learn something or gain an insight into something when I read or listen to a great book. This book made me questions the millions of people who love this novel. What they could love is beyond me. Jubal is the stranger in a strange land, and MVS is just a dull water brother groking nothingness wherever he appears.
The first 2/3 of the book is a great story. He creates interesting characters and forces you to think much about what it would be like to interact with a truly alien race and way of thought. Then you get the rug pulled. The story essentially stops. For 8 hours of play time, the plot is advanced in tiny increments while chapters are spent with our characters in deep conversation, espousing personal freedom and free love. Pages and pages go by where nothing really happens at all. Conflict and struggle are neutralized by a convenient dues ex machina, and characters wander around eating, drinking, having sex, and patting one another on the back about how great everything is and how happy they are. It's really somewhat nauseating, especially when Heinlein uses the characters he spent the first 2/3 of the book crafting and making you care about to simply parrot his political and social viewpoints. (he does this in his other books as well) It gets stranger and stranger up to the end, where it finishes with a whimper. Really, Heinlein finished the book at about hour 10, but he apparently wasn't through telling us how right he is about the benefits of nudism and orgies. It's akin to listening to a "worldly" college kid scoff and condescendingly tell you, "Dude, I got some stuff you should read." I found myself hoping terrible things would happen to characters I'd previously liked, just so they (the author) would shut up. The sprinkling of wince-inducing, dated viewpoints made it that much worse. For example, and I quote, "whenever a woman gets raped it's at least partially her own fault". Wow. Add to that obvious racism, sexism, and homophobia, and you can really feel the years since publication. It was difficult to finish.
Maybe stop disguising political rants within character conversations?
Hurt's narration is fantastic. He adds life to the story that my own brain could never have equaled. His portrayal of Jubal is especially good, and he makes Heinlein's thick-and-fast dialog really pop. His delivery of Heinlein's staggering vocabulary would do any Tarantino film proud.
For the first two thirds, yes. After that I found myself sighing and rolling my eyes as if listening to an idiot politician speak endlessly on television.
If you are familiar with and share Heinlein's political views, you will enjoy this immensely. But be forewarned that the book is largely an arrogant soapbox, classic Hugo winner or no.
This book has not held up to the test of time. The sexism was especially distracting. I did appreciate the exploration and questioning of human religion and psychology. Watching Valentine Michael Smith's maturation was interesting. The first 1/3 of the book is driven more through action the last 2/3 are weighed down by preaching lectures.
Drama teacher and Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan
I've found that you either love Robert A. Heinlein or you hate him.
I, for one, have enjoyed every book I've read by him. In fact, I get overly depressed when I think about all of the books of his that I have not read.
Is he a perfect author? Absolutely not, but perhaps it is the flawed (and sometimes dated) nature about his books that makes me enjoy his novels so much. It is undeniable that he is The Grandmaster, but none of his books illustrates this title as much as this particular novel. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is a thought provoking story about a human being raised by aliens. The book develops into a messianic story about a man who is stronger - both mentally and physically -- than the humans around him --- a superman with a na??vet?? that makes him both endearing and frightful. Peppered with memorable characters like Jubal Harshaw, Heinlein explores topics from sex to religion.
The audiobook is a great way to revisit this novel. However, having a copy of this book is helpful because there are several passages that are worth re-reading a number of times. I hate to make the comparison, but like a well worn bible, my copy of STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND has become a sort of palimpsest with my notes scribbled in the margins. You can see my thoughts (and weaknesses) from my teens to my twenties and on in to my thirties. You will earn your SECRETARY badge by hitting your BOOKMARK button several times. Make the notes, keep them, re-read the book in ten years. You will see how much you've grown and you'll interepret the novel in new, more mature, ways.
If you are a fan of Science Fiction, I recommend this novel simply because I feel that it holds Heinlein's soul.
At last another way to enjoy my favourite book and number 1 author it was every thing I had hoped for.Once again I can emurse myself in his amazing words and Grok it fully. This story changed me from the moment I read it and I have evolved eversince, A philosophy that blends itself to all who Grok and can see the changes to be made . Thank you Robert for your words and well done Christopher Hurt for you vocal prowes in delivering them as they were written clean clear and intuitively. I have enjoyed this Audio Book and will enjoy evry other one from the same Author . Thank you
An all time classic! I strongly recommend it as one of my "10 most influential books that I could not do without". I have two well-loved hardcopies of the same title; what a joy it is to re-read (hear?) & review this via AudioBook! In the same wide-open perspective as all the other titles that I have read by Heinlein, he has given us a brilliant, intuitive & unique aspect on the "illusion of (American) morality" and all of the most fundamental & sacred cows are sacrificed; it has revolutionized my views on so many aspects of society (specifically American!) that this title in particular is, as the author, one that sparks an ever-increasing desire of my own to question the Establishment and discuss the philosphy of reality as we know it. Outstanding! Indispensible!
I read this book when it ws first released and enjoyed it hugely. With great anticipation I downloaded the audio book, after all these years, to revisit this classic of science fiction. This is a dangerous thing! After all, I had cherished the original text in my memory and personally coloured all the charaters in the story. All too often (like seeing the film of a favourite book on the silver screen) this can be disappointing.
This audio reading does not disappoint! Of course the book itself is wonderful, imaginative and timeless but it is greatly enhanced by the way it is narrated. Highly recommended. In fact I will search out other books by this narrator!