Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Review Tuesday: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert Heinlein

by Robert Heinlein
A human who was raised on Mars since birth is returned to Earth and has to learn HOW to be a human.
This is a book that I have been dragging around the world in my suitcase for vacation reading. Knowing that so many Iron Maiden songs were based on literature, I wanted to give this book a shot (despite having read that the song isn't related to the book at all). Somehow the girthiness of this book has always prevented me from getting started until recently when I got it in Kindle format.

Valentine Michael Smith was the child of two scientists who were part of the crew of the first Mars exploration craft. The crew consisted of all couples and he was NOT a product of any of those couples which was the first controversy. The fact that no others had survived and that his parents died in some strange murder suicide added to the intrigue. Years later when the second Mars expedition landed, Michael was discovered. He was a young man of around 20 years and had been raised by the Martians in their ways. So he was  brought"home" despite knowing nothing of Earth or our ways. The rest of the book was about how Mike is treated by other Terrans and how he learned to interact with humans and how he fulfilled his destiny.

I broke one of my most basic rules with this story and had high expectations based on all the stellar reviews I had read previously. Of course I felt let down because because in my mind it never achieved... What? Greatness? I don't know. It was a very clever tale and quite descriptive and thorough with its nearly 600 page girth. I found myself expecting some insanely provocative and controversial story but didn't get it. 

Keep in mind that this book was originally published in the early 1960s and Heinlein had been working on this story, on and off, since the late 1940s! It was a very different time and things that seem to be ordinary today were very titillating back then. I can imagine how the religious overtones and the sexiness of the tale would've been too much for the time. 

After reading the ending, however, any grumblings I had about the reviews shifted. The story ends with a punch in the mouth that will have you deep in thought about the consequences for quite some time. If not, you did not grok the story in its fullness and cherish it. Start again, there's no hurry. It's worth your time.     

Get it on AMAZON: Stranger in a Strange Land (Remembering Tomorrow)