Stranger in a Strange Land

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For starters, I want to respond to my friend who said this book was stupid. . . It is – if you’re reading it for the first time as an adult.  But this book became an instant cult classic and is even cited by some to be the “most popular science fiction novel ever written.”  It’s cheesy, philosophically tame, and its moral taboos are nothing shocking – and it’s the perfect story for a 14-year-old science-fiction geek.

Brief synopsis:  A human raised by Martians returns to earth.  He is still “merely an egg,” (akin to a human 3-year old), and his innocence is slightly irritating.  He’s a little too “puppy dog” to be tolerable.  Within a two year period he “grows up,” and becomes a spiritual leader and revolutionary.  He starts a church where he teaches humans the Martian language, telepathy, telekinesis and out of body experiences. 

This book was referred to me by someone who cites it as his first introduction to polyamory.  The poly lifestyle described in this book is in its truest form – pure joy at sharing the beauty of love and sex, with not a stitch of jealousy.  It’s like poly utopia.  For his time, I’m sure Robert Heinlein was really pushing the envelope, and I admire that about him and the story.  He also takes his shot at spiritual philosophy, describing how each of us is connected with other people (or objects) by “grokking,” them (fully knowing and appreciating them), and thereby become one with them.  This concept was so popular, “Grokking” is now in the English Dictionary.         

Having read it for the first time in 2010, this book did not wow me.  There were parts that were utterly nauseating in their sappiness, (“Thou art God, my brother” at every turn, and loosely using the term “grok” to the point of irritation).  It didn’t push my boundaries or stretch my imagination very far, but I can see why so many people have deemed it worthy of being on book lists nationwide.

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