Valentine Michael Smith, an earthling born and educated on Mars, arrives on Earth with superhuman powers and a total ignorance of the mores of man. On his new planet, Smith is destined to become a freak, a media commodity, a scam artist, a searcher, a sexual pioneer, a neon evangelist, a martyr, and, finally, a messiah. Stranger in a Strange Land is the most famous science fiction novel ever written. It became the bible of the "love generation" and transcended the genre to achieve the status of a modern classic.
©1961 by Robert A. Heinlein; (P)1996 by Blackstone Audiobooks
Although written over forty years ago this semi sci-fi still rings true today. While it tells the story of an earthling born on Mars who returns to Earth, it is really a parable on many of our social mores. The author has a sharp knife. He doesn't spare government, religion, the media, sexual proclivities or law enforcement. Our Martian sic earthing is the reluctant "deus ex machina" using his extra terrestrial powers to right wrongs and showing us "Gods" way. While similar plots have been use in numerous Hollywood movies over the last several decades, the book is still interesting and worth listening to.
I'm an Audible Addict.
The narration was excellent. Just excellent.
I particularly enjoyed the personality of the characters.
The narrator did exactly what he was supposed to do: Read the text while adding just the right amount of emotion without becoming annoying. It's not easy to find a voice that you can listen to for 16 hours.
I laughed often at the wit of the characters.
Excellent book, I highly recommend.
As other listeners below experienced, I at first found the sound quality too poor for listening, but I downloaded the book again when Enhanced format became available, and the audio quality problems disappeared.
Smoke me a kipper; I'll be back for breakfast.
There are two things that give me a unique perspective on this book that you might not find much in reviews - I am female and I didn't read this book a long time ago. Many people say they love this book but that's because they read it back in the day and can't see it unbiased.
There are many books that were important in their time because they pushed scientific viewpoints, social norms, and the like. I believe what makes this book so hard to judge is that it really was edgy and challenging during its time. I'm afraid that the shine has really worn off and in current society this book really isn't much to feel excited by.
This book definitely had potential if it would have focused more on the "man from Mars" and maybe delved more into Martian culture. Some of this is definitely present and I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed the religious parts of the book. Nothing like a crazy cult or two and very strange belief systems to poke fun or even provide meaningful commentary.
The reason I wasn't that thrilled with this book is mostly that it was so long and boring. And this is coming from someone who has read a lot of GRR Martin. Think of it this way - during this period, sci-fi authors were mostly legit scientific visionaries that then decided to write. Nowadays we have more authors that can write well and we definitely suffer for the interesting ideas not being there. So you have an author that isn't technically that good of a writer for this book. There is far too much dialogue and little forwards the themes. The author has the annoying habit of making everyone say "huh?" as a device to get the current speaker to get to say more. Another issue is that there are very few types of personalities. There is one type for males, one for females, and then the unique man from Mars.
There are two warnings to give on this book. One is that there is a "healthy" dose of casual sex in this book. It gets very boring to hear about the exact way each person kisses and who all is banging who all. He also puts in a sex cult so then it gets even more annoying. I guess he was trying to be all 60's free-love before it was hip (good use of forward thinking?).
Warning two is that this book is sexist. If you get squeemish by such things you should probably read a different book. The women are mostly useful as cooks, secretaries, nurses, and sex prophetesses (true story!). There are many bottoms smacked. Men talk to women like they are children. Women faint after kissing. You get the idea. Yes, yes, during that time people wouldn't have cared, but let's be honest, now it's annoying.
I just think that if you want to read period sci-fi there's much better choices. I do believe people that it was significant and important during its time but I think it's time to retire this tired book.
I would recommend that you choose a non-audiobook version. It was suggested to me that a better choice might be an e-book or regular book as then you can easily skip the rambling parts.
Will you find this book boring? You may if: you expect all science fiction to be about action, aliens, spaceships, violence, and bizarre sex; if you don't have the patience to listen to a conversation about ideas; if you don't know what the American world-view was like when the book was written.
SIASL was written before the sexual revolution began, before cynicism about our government was popular, when mainstream religious thought was considered above criticism. I don't say this novel was solely responsible for changing the world, but it was part of the spark that began that change. In the post-Watergate, post-Pill, post-Sun-Myung-Moon era, it's hard for some folks to see the stunning impact the book had. Now we've had communes and religions that were formed based on the ideas in this book. We live in the world that this book helped to make; it's hard to be shocked by it anymore.
But the ideas remain, and they're still thought-provoking. Could the religion described in the book actually exist? There now is a real Church of All Worlds; clearly, their members think so.
I admit the book shows its age. Heinlein's attitudes towards homosexuality would change over the next couple of decades; the book's views on that and on drug use are stuck in the 1960's. But all works are products of their times, and this one fine story for those who choose to listen.
A special mention for the reader, Christopher Hurt, who does an excellent job with his voice work.
SiaSL is one of the few books that I grab a copy of whenever I go into a second hand book store to be given away to anyone who shows an interest. It is also the first Audible book I downloaded. It is classified as a Sci-Fi book but it is much harder to easily describe such a fine book. It is a commentary on the human race and our traditions from the perspective of an insightful outsider. Religion is the most obvious and controversial issue. It was actually banned in some states from public libraries and schools because of this fact. It is not a religion bashing book howeever, it just makes you think about things that so many take for granted. I strongly reccommend this book for those that are looking for powerful, likeable characters and insights that only a genius could create. (I have tried to read his other books but am not a big fan of hardcore sci-fi books. Take a chance and learn to Grok your life in a whole new way!
The premise of an earthling born on Mars, raised by Martians and then returned to earth is wonderful. You get some idea of what that unused part of the human brain might be able to do with a little training.
Do not expect ray guns or your usual Space Western. This is, in my opinion, a very dogmatic novel. The views expressed can spur you to think about many aspects of politics, religion, culture and the like in different ways if you lean to being introspective. That is the books greatest strength or weakness.
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!
It was a pleasure to hear, thirty years later, a book I loved to read so much in my teens. A bit dated, perhaps, but not badly so. It stills says a lot about society in general. The narrator was excellent, so much so as to add quite a lot to a story I already knew. I would listen to a book narrated by him just on his talents alone. I suppose you are either a Heinlein fan or you are not...I am.
OK, this book is now a little dated, but it's still a classic; I remember being shocked by the views on religion and sex. Now, not so much. But Christopher Hurt is a wonderful narrator, and brings the characters to life. Great fun.
Unlike the other reviewer I felt that this was extremely thought provoking and it does stand the test of time very well. Clearly from a scientrific perspective some aspects do not hold up today but generally I felt the points being made are as relevant as ever and the story is well told and compelling.
"a clasic SF"
Knowing that the book was written some time ago I accept, but I was not pleased that is sounds as if it was recorded from an old 78 record. This I found detracted from the enjoyment of listening to a book that I had read a long time ago. I hope that this may in some part prepare future buyers of what they are getting.
"Past its sell by date"
Sorry everyone - This book does not hold its age well / plus the production is appalling
Sci Fi written in the 50s can always be hard work. You have to over look the predictions of the authors future which didn't come true. With Sci Fi I'm all about the story and this is a classic. Essentially this is about a modern day Jesus Christ and how society reacts to him.
"A great book and one that’s still relevant today."
I first read this book way back in the early 1970s; in fact, it was my first proper read of any book at the time so there's always going to be a sense of nostalgia associated with it. The story is multifaceted but is told in a simple, straight-forward manner which makes it easy to follow and understand. In this audio version the narrator does a fine job with all the different accents and really helps it all comes to life.
For me it is a classic in its own right and even though it seems not to hold up to more modern novels it nonetheless captures how Science Fiction was approached back in the 60s.
I have really enjoyed this book and unlike some other reviewers, liked the production. A strange echoing recording that added to the story. I found I kept listening, even though I had returned home from dog walk or tube journey.
"Getting used to the voice"
I initially found the narrator's voice most off-putting but slowly the story came through. This book saw me through the first few cold dark months of walking the dog pre-dawn or post-dusk. It is a marathon listen and sounds very dated now but I still enjoyed it.
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