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Publisher's Summary

Epic, entertaining, blasphemous, this is the most influential and controversial of Science Fiction novels.

Stranger in a Strange Land caused uproar when it was first published as it savaged conventional religious, sexual, and social ideals. Many years in the future, Valentine Michael Smith's upbringing is exceptional. Orphan child to two astronauts killed in space, he is raised on Mars. Twenty-five years later he is "rescued" and brought back to Earth. The initial enthusiasm of the administration in Smith's safe return is soon dampened by the realisation that they cannot control him. Possessed with superhuman skills and a unique philosophy he threatens their society - Smith must be contained.

Then a nurse helps him escape his hospital jail. Their flight becomes a journey of discovery, enlightenment and wonder. But danger is following fast behind, and there will be no escape from the final confrontation.

©1961 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2012 Hodder & Stoughton

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Still relevant

Worryingly many of the threads of the book are still relevant today; of course, not all. It is remarkable how many things writers of that time, it was published in 1961, got predictions right - video phoning, mobile phones in cars, etc. But some of his notions are really out of date; his writing of women characters is very much the thinking of the 50s; although I can see him struggle with modern concepts of their place in changing times.

The reader does a good job with a long book. Sometimes the voices lose distinction and it is momentarily hard to work out who is speaking, but that is a minor issue. More difficult is the he uses whispering to indicate some of the "speech" which makes the dialogue un-hearable; good intentions, but doesn't work with an audiobook.

Some parts can drag on ... mainly because their novelty at the time doesn't translate to our modern times, but it's worth persevering. The original draft was 220,000 words, published in 1991, but the editors got him to cut it down to 160,067 words, 1961. I'm not sure which version this is. Received the Hugo Award for Best Novel (Wikipedia).

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  • Simon
  • 08-31-15

A point in time

This is one of those seminal classics which deserves every respect. I understand it was included in a Library of Congress exhibition of "Books That Shaped America" so it's not to be taken lightly by any measure.

It will still divide opinions today in terms of its value and much will depend on your stance on political correctness. Me, I loved the early expressions of some of the free-thinking and libertarian views and the joyous disrespect for a lot of society's norms. I may not agreed with it all but it was good to be free of some of today's shackles on such opinions.

However, after a while it seemed to me that the author was taking it too far to be a genuinely credible attempt at social commentary. Jubal Harshaw, the main instrument for expressing these opinions went from being something of an inspirational character to something of a bore over the course of the piece.

In fact, someone like myself would probably actually benefit from something I normally avoid like the plague . . . an abridged version! (Just don't tell anyone I said that!) This is because the concept and characters are strong and I warmed to them but in an effort to be an epic it just went on too long for me and there was too much of the narrative that didn't move the story forwards in any real way or add much new to the social commentary.

It's probably one of those books you have to read and I always think that a book that divides opinion like this probably has something going for it. Especially as it continues to do so more half a century since its publication.

So, I have genuine admiration for Heinlein and his creation, it was just too long-winded in parts and a bit over the top so overall these things detracted from my enjoyment of it. I'm glad I read it but I won't be hurrying back to go through it again!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr. S. P. Campbell
  • 04-20-17

Stranger in a strange land

This. Is a classic Heinlein , thought provoking with echoes of modern times. His characterisation of the press is amusingly accurate, even if he could not have guessed the technology at this distance in time. I first read the book some 30+ years ago and the authors cynical views on government ring true especially since Trumps election. He also takes a run at religion and the zealots. With a strong plot it is a thoroughly good story that I heartily recommend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jamie Sleeman
  • 08-08-16

Mixed bag

This is not a particularly well-written book, but it has achieved an iconic status for its ability to make people think. It is pretty damn long and some passages are excruciatingly expository, but if you're into anything "New Age" or consider yourself an alternative thinker, you'll enjoy it.
The big downside is Martin McDougall's narrative performance, which is, quite frankly, one of the worst readings I've ever heard. He has roughly the vocal range of an early-career Arnold Schwarzenegger and will pause in mid-sentence for roughly twice as long as you normally would for the end of one before continuing, which gives a very disjointed and sometimes confusing experience for the listener. Can't believe this guy can make a living doing this job.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Anthony
  • 06-17-15

interesting but a bit pointless

The narration feels dated but the overall story is captivating enough. Filled with philosophy and an odd sort of wisdom. maybe we could all learn something from mike

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike M.
  • 12-06-14

From and for a bygone time

It's hard to judge a social commentary of a book that is now 53 years old. Some ideas like free love are now dated, and probably won't shock any listener that has watched television in the last 10 years, while the proposed libertarian ideals might resonate with others.

While religion is touched a few times, I would have preferred a harder stance on either side, pro or con, but the listener is left with a weak (by today's standard perhaps) compromise on it.

Even though I'm a fan of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I can't recommend this book, which I ascribe partially to its age, and partially to my disinterest in the aforementioned topics.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Animar
  • 10-26-14

equal to its fame as a defining novel

A superb and imaginative take on the social, political and legal ramifications of colonisation propelled by a narrow cultural perspective

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy Kokuu McLellan
  • 09-10-17

Classic science-fiction read superbly

I have been meaning to read this book for quite some time but figured it would be dated and rather dull by modern standards. While there is definitely a touch of the 1960s about it, the novel is a classic of science-fiction for a reason and the story plays out wonderfully.

The performance is splendid and Martin McDougall manages to personify a whole range of characters of different genders including the man from Mars himself.

Sci-fi fans have probably already read this but, if not, put it on your Wish List already.

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  • J. Kennedy
  • 06-27-17

Great sci-fi.

Would you consider the audio edition of Stranger in a Strange Land to be better than the print version?

I loved it and feel that it's stood the test of time. Some still biting satire, I found it brilliantly funny.

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  • Michele
  • 08-17-16

how have i not read this yet?

this is a classic piece of work, easy to listen to, well read and most of all insightful. A truly wonderful read.

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  • Paul Hamer
  • 04-25-16

Interesting: gender and sexual mores from 1950's were challenged

Interesting: gender and sexual mores from 1950's were challenged but in the 21st century it is uncomfortable to hear some of what is expressed. Only by assigning it to an alternate reality can one justify some of it.
The jump from the restricted civilisation to the open freedom of the final chapters is somewhat clumsy, the opening chapters maybe being caricature even when written perhaps.
The voice artiste is excellent, pitch and timbre varied for each character to good effect.

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  • mcfrood
  • 11-14-17

Bloated, Self-Indulgent Waffle saved only in part by great narration

I am a Sci-Fi fan, and thought I was a fan of Heinlein, until listening to this audiobook. Perhaps the abridged version (I'm starting to believe abridged = better editing), might have offered a better narrative, because this unabridged version is bloated and full of trivial dialogue (ie excuse for Author to insert his own detailed opinions on everything under the sun - sex, religion, politics, the law - just to name a few). It starts strongly, but then just meanders everywhere and ends with a sputtering weak gasp of a closure. It's internal logic is massively broken - how does the world lose interest so quickly in mars, the martians and the man from mars? The characters seem to be obsessed with teaching Mike about all the things he needs to do to integrate into humanity, rather than bombarding him with the million questions one would expect when offered an insight into a far more powerful alien species. It's almost like it was written by someone having a colonialist wet dream - look how I domesticate this savage I have brought back from the New World. Isn't he quaint with such quaint ways. Even after Mike proves he has telekinetic powers, his mentors seem more interested in making sure his social graces are improved than any deeper scientific understanding.
The only thing that saved this from getting five raspberries from me - was the top narration from Martin McDougall. I am going to keep my eye out for his narration in future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Clyde
  • 12-06-15

Just ..... No !

It's been 35 years since I've last read this story. Being a huge Heinlein fan as a teen, I was keen to rediscover the stories and science fiction of my youth.

Oh how wrong a choice that was. Such a long winded narrative that dragged on and on and missed creative opportunities to just preach over and over the whole sixties free love philosophies. It wouldn't have been so bad if not for the downright dated aspects of sexism that I had to endure throughout. I'm a guy, and I was just appalled at the narrow minded disrespect given to female characters. They were there for just two things. To look good and to have sex. And let's try to forget his outright 'rape' comment in the text saying that women deserved it. My respect of this author has been shattered.

I've just finished reading Arthur Conon Doyle and although written decades before this book, still manages to have more modern intentions than anything in this current book of 'Stranger'.

The narrator does a great job, but it feels as if even he doesn't like reading the misogyny that drips from every page.

Glad it's over.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • fd46
  • 06-10-17

Martin McDougall ruins a good story

Any additional comments?

The reader cannot handle multiple voices, not even for 10 seconds.<br/>This makes it hard to follow conversations. I cannot give the reader a negative or zero rating, so the overall rating is not an average of the others. The story is good.<br/><br/>For Audible, the format of submitting comments ranges from paternalistic (as if <br/>we're children and don't know how to say something) to ridiculous<br/>(imagine playing 'editor' and deleting 'scenes' from a classic like, say, Hardy ---<br/>not to mention the conflict of logic when the work is supposed to be unabridged).

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  • Jeff Northam
  • 11-06-15

So much better than expected.

when every I finish a great peice of work I am always a little sad that it is over..

I feel that this morning, this was am amazing book. The author really took his time to provide a great masterpiece.

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  • Jacqueline
  • 11-13-17

hard going

Struggled to finish. Disliked subordinate female characters. Very dated attitudes. I do not reccomend this book

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sue
  • 03-16-16

As thought provoking today as when it was written,

I found Stranger in a Strange Land challenged me to think about my own beliefs

0 of 1 people found this review helpful