Mar 06, 08
Recommended to Dash by:
Amy, you've gotta read this one & tell me what you think
Read in January, 1989
Can you grok it?
I feel I should preface this review with the following information divulged upfront. This book was pushed on my by my father when I was around 16 years old. For good or bad, these were the circumstances under which I first read it, and this may have contributed to my being predisposed to enjoying the read. Before reading "Stranger" I had read half a dozen or so of Heinlein's so-called "juvenile" or "adolescent" novels, including "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" and "Starship Galileo". It is somewhat difficult for me to review these books since it has been so long since I have read them, but I must say that I enojoyed them thoroughly when I read them as an adolescent. I feel that I am qualified, finaly, to review "Stranger" now as I have read both vesions, having read the originally published severely edited version and the later released "unedited" version, I much prefer the later.
Upon my second reading of this novel, I was somewhat dismayed at the degree of misogyny therein. I was especially surprised at not noticing it the first time around. I would say that the primary reasons that I so loved this book were the way it mocked organized religion, promoted polyamorism & "free love", and was, at its core, just a very well-crafted science fiction tale. I admit that Heinlein does get a bit preachy from time to time, and some of the dialogue is offensive to many from many angles, but where it is abrasive I feel it is so in a likeable way. There are occassional exceptions to this, but I found it to be refreshing in most cases. The book is written largely in a dialogue manner, so most of the opinions and statements contained therein reflect the predjudices and social mores of the characters themselves.
The message that I most empathized with in this novel was his championing of the individual and alternately pointing out the downfalls of becoming a blind follower. Just the idea of pushing yourself beyond the percieved limitations of body and mind is captavating and inspiring.
Now that I am all grown up I would place myself, politically, far from Heinlein, although I do have a bit of a libertarian streak. I am a very "liberal" person generally, and am a pacifist, vegan, mother nature loving hippie sort of fellow. I have always thought back on the Heinlein that I read as a teen as mostly pointing out the absurdity of unbridled militarism and militiristic propaganda. I find it fascinating that some see him as being militiristic in his writings. I have not read all of his books, but from what I have read I got a wholly different impression.
I think it is interesting what the original publishers deemed too controversial and offensive enough to require editing.
Individual freedom and liberty - the negative effects of organized religion on society - sexual freedom for all -
these are the themes I can relate to and endorse contained in "Stranger in a Strange Land"!