Stranger in a Strange Land

  • by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Narrated by Christopher Hurt
  • 16 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Valentine Michael Smith, an earthling born and educated on Mars, arrives on Earth with superhuman powers and a total ignorance of the mores of man. On his new planet, Smith is destined to become a freak, a media commodity, a scam artist, a searcher, a sexual pioneer, a neon evangelist, a martyr, and, finally, a messiah. Stranger in a Strange Land is the most famous science fiction novel ever written. It became the bible of the "love generation" and transcended the genre to achieve the status of a modern classic.


What the Critics Say

Hugo Award, 1962


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

We live in the world this book made

Will you find this book boring? You may if: you expect all science fiction to be about action, aliens, spaceships, violence, and bizarre sex; if you don't have the patience to listen to a conversation about ideas; if you don't know what the American world-view was like when the book was written.

SIASL was written before the sexual revolution began, before cynicism about our government was popular, when mainstream religious thought was considered above criticism. I don't say this novel was solely responsible for changing the world, but it was part of the spark that began that change. In the post-Watergate, post-Pill, post-Sun-Myung-Moon era, it's hard for some folks to see the stunning impact the book had. Now we've had communes and religions that were formed based on the ideas in this book. We live in the world that this book helped to make; it's hard to be shocked by it anymore.

But the ideas remain, and they're still thought-provoking. Could the religion described in the book actually exist? There now is a real Church of All Worlds; clearly, their members think so.

I admit the book shows its age. Heinlein's attitudes towards homosexuality would change over the next couple of decades; the book's views on that and on drug use are stuck in the 1960's. But all works are products of their times, and this one fine story for those who choose to listen.

A special mention for the reader, Christopher Hurt, who does an excellent job with his voice work.
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- W. Seligman

Contemporary review not based on fond memories!

There are two things that give me a unique perspective on this book that you might not find much in reviews - I am female and I didn't read this book a long time ago. Many people say they love this book but that's because they read it back in the day and can't see it unbiased.

There are many books that were important in their time because they pushed scientific viewpoints, social norms, and the like. I believe what makes this book so hard to judge is that it really was edgy and challenging during its time. I'm afraid that the shine has really worn off and in current society this book really isn't much to feel excited by.

This book definitely had potential if it would have focused more on the "man from Mars" and maybe delved more into Martian culture. Some of this is definitely present and I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed the religious parts of the book. Nothing like a crazy cult or two and very strange belief systems to poke fun or even provide meaningful commentary.

The reason I wasn't that thrilled with this book is mostly that it was so long and boring. And this is coming from someone who has read a lot of GRR Martin. Think of it this way - during this period, sci-fi authors were mostly legit scientific visionaries that then decided to write. Nowadays we have more authors that can write well and we definitely suffer for the interesting ideas not being there. So you have an author that isn't technically that good of a writer for this book. There is far too much dialogue and little forwards the themes. The author has the annoying habit of making everyone say "huh?" as a device to get the current speaker to get to say more. Another issue is that there are very few types of personalities. There is one type for males, one for females, and then the unique man from Mars.

There are two warnings to give on this book. One is that there is a "healthy" dose of casual sex in this book. It gets very boring to hear about the exact way each person kisses and who all is banging who all. He also puts in a sex cult so then it gets even more annoying. I guess he was trying to be all 60's free-love before it was hip (good use of forward thinking?).

Warning two is that this book is sexist. If you get squeemish by such things you should probably read a different book. The women are mostly useful as cooks, secretaries, nurses, and sex prophetesses (true story!). There are many bottoms smacked. Men talk to women like they are children. Women faint after kissing. You get the idea. Yes, yes, during that time people wouldn't have cared, but let's be honest, now it's annoying.

I just think that if you want to read period sci-fi there's much better choices. I do believe people that it was significant and important during its time but I think it's time to retire this tired book.

I would recommend that you choose a non-audiobook version. It was suggested to me that a better choice might be an e-book or regular book as then you can easily skip the rambling parts.
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- Heather "Smoke me a kipper; I'll be back for breakfast."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-1999
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.