Stranger In A Strange Land
Copyright 1961 by
I first read this in 1970 and most recently on the 11th August 2002
The Envoy was the name of the ship that first went to Mars. It failed, costing the
lives of its members. Now, twenty-five years later, the Federation ship Champion
has ventured to Mars and encountered the powerful and ancient Martian civilisation,
When the mission returns, it brings the sole survivor from the original
mission, a young man, child of the dead crew-members, nursed and educated by Martians,
and who knows nothing about humanity and life on Earth. Since the Martians are a
highly developed and intellectual species, Mike, our Man From Mars, is packed full with
a sophisticated awareness of the basic structure of the universe, jammed tight with
astonishing talents. Of course, he still has a lot to learn when he hits Maryland,
U.S. Of A.
Rescued from the clutches of the government by the lovely Gillian Boardman, and
delivered by her to Jubal Harshaw, doctor and lawyer, a man of power and influence and
the only man who may be able to ensure Mike's liberty. Jubal rapidly understands
that although Mike is a child-like innocent, he's possessed of powerful and deadly
Well it's Heinlein, so it's a great story. It's Heinlein's first big book, so the
ideas were fresh and exciting, whereas in subsequent books the same personalities and
morality resurface ad absurdiam.
Jubal bloody Harshaw, fat, self-indulgent and protected by his wealth, jaded and
cynical. exhibits a complete lack of empathy for his fellow man and leads his adopted son into madness and
death. Alternatively it's a magnificent view on religion, morality and man's place
in the universe. Me, I just can't judge any longer.
I always loathed the verb "to grok", never being able to see it as indicating anything
more than a nonspecific understanding. On the other hand, of course
this blew me away when I first read it, opened my narrow little mind to the wonders of
free-thinking liberalism but tempered me with a tough cynicism against governments, New Age
beliefs and new vocabulary.
Loaded on the 19th August 2002.