Stranger in a Strange Land

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Postby Kensai » 18 Jul 2010 15:25

Anyone ever read Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heliner? I know a lot of people consider Dune to be one of the first true literary science fiction book, but I hear this was one of the first genuine literary non science fiction novels in a time when most of the market was still rather pulp. Sounds really intresting. Aparently there were heavy cuts from the origional draft because it was all too "freaky". Can't find it anywhere so will probably have to get it from the net.

Anyone read it?
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Re: Stranger in a Strange Land

Postby Redstar » 18 Jul 2010 15:40

I read it. My first time through was the "uncut" version. Heinlein is one of those few authors that benefited from having an editor. The book was interesting through the first half, but the second half of the book became almost unbearable. The whole book is a tract singing praise for the social freedom allowed through polyamory and almost seems like a subtle attack on religion by saying it's all "true".

It was never entirely clear to me whether or not the children of the cult members were involved in the group orgy sessions, and that bothered me. It wouldn't surprise me if Heinlein imagined they were considering his rather liberal ideas on sex.

I really enjoy Heinlein's style of writing, but his subject-matter is usually a waste of time. For him I'd say stick to his juveniles, when he was always pushing the envelope on what was printed, but the editors still had a good hold on him. His early non-juveniles are good too, especially Starship Troopers, but Stranger is pretty bad.

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Re: Stranger in a Strange Land

Postby Robspierre » 18 Jul 2010 22:21

Read it and keep in mind the time it was written, it is considered a"bible" for the paloamory movement and I do know that many fans did not like the uncut edition due to the homosexuality thing.

There needs to be a third cut, one that trims a bit of the original text but more than the original publication.

As for his other works, there is the school that anything from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and earlier is worth reading and everything that came after is nothing more than ego wanking.

Then there are those who like all his works, such as myself, and the reasons for liking all of his works is infinite.

My list for new readers

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
Starship Troopers
Puppet Masters
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Time Enough For Love

They cover different times of his career and give you an interesting cross section of his career.


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Re: Stranger in a Strange Land

Postby Aquila ka-Hecate » 18 Jul 2010 23:56

I'm alike to Rob in that I like Heinlein in all his manifestations.

(Have Spacesuit Will Travel is possibly my favourite novel of all time and I agree with Redstar that often the juvenile works are superior from an exploring-new-paradigms angle)

Stranger is not just, to my mind, an exposition of polyamory, but it takes aim at most of the accepted mores of the time when it was written.

I'm particularly fond of his 'religion as hucksterism' theme in this book - for the fun it pokes at established religions alone, I consider this an important work. I'm of the generation who read this in their early teens (I was twelve or thirteen when I first read it and I'm 50 now) and who are still feeling the imprint.

The pantheistic idea upon which the Church of All Worlds was founded ( the book. I know there's a neoPagan group who've taken this name as well) was probably seeded in Heinlein by his wife, Ginny - although I can't prove this. :lol:

For the Thou Art God meme alone, which has influenced so many, many boomers, I think this is an imoprtant work indeed.

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Re: Stranger in a Strange Land

Postby Omphalos » 19 Jul 2010 01:09

Personally I can't stand the sexual wish-fulfillment of later Heinlein, and this is one of the first books where I though he started to lose it. Starship Trooper and Moon are two of my favorite books by this author, and I also like most of the juveniles, including Podkayne. This book went in way too many directions at once. And for my money, the fact that so many people loved it is a check in the negative column.

BTW, when it was written the pulp and golden ages of SF were long past; those motifs and styles had been dead for decades. The New Wave was going in the UK, and in the US we were getting over the "death of SF" in the late 50's, and although this book was heralded as "the new direction," I personally imagine it to be typical of mid-60's literature.

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