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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Stranger In A Strange Land

Copyright 1961 by Robert A. Heinlein

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (4/5)

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 skills.

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.
Cover of Stranger In A Strange Land