Dash's Reviews > Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
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Mar 06, 08

bookshelves: science-fiction-and-or-fantasy
Recommended to Dash by: My father
Recommended for: 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"!
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Quotes Dash Liked

Robert A. Heinlein
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein
“Yes, Boss?'
Dorcas, the last twenty or thirty years I've been a worthless, no-good parasite.'
She yawned again. 'Everybody knows that.'
Nevermind the flattery. There comes a time in every man's life when he has to stop being sensible--a time to stand up and be counted--strike a blow for liberty--smite the wicked.'
Ummm...'
So quit yawning, the time has come.'
She glanced down. 'Maybe I had better get dressed.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein
“If God existed (a question concerning which Jubal maintained a meticulous intellectual neutrality) and if He desired to be worshiped (a proposition which Jubal found inherently improbable but conceivably possible in the dim light of his own ignorance), then (stipulating affirmatively both the above) it nevertheless seemed wildly unlikely to Jubal to the point of reductio ad absurdum that a God potent to shape galaxies would be titillated and swayed by the whoop-te-do nonsense the Fosterites offered Him as "worship.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land


Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Amelia Okay darlin, Fahrenheit 451 has been shelved and I am goign to start Stranger instead... Good Golly Miss Molly, I'm stuck in the middle! Whatever, one of you is deluded, who shall it be???? :)


Amelia Aren't you the one I asked what 'grok' meant the other day and I had to look it up in the dictionary? Damn that Donald!


Dash Grok: in martian tongue = "to drink in"

"Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man."


Amelia I looked it up...last week when Donald used it, and I had no idea what he as on about. I must have been talking to someone else on the phone at the time.

Funny you used it though.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I never `Groked' `Stranger In a Strange Land'.


message 6: by Amelia (last edited Mar 06, 2008 04:45PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Amelia Donald, not Stranger, it was the one of the music threads. I'll go look...


Amelia Donald, three fav music videos, you said:

" Ha Ha Ha! That guy has the Lennon head bob down perfectly! The Twist and shout ending was the best. I have to dig out my `A Hard Day's Night' and grok back with the Liverpool boys.
Thank God I don't own `Song remains the same'"

And I looked up the word Grok...


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

My words come back to haunt me.


Amelia No, Donald, thank you. I am now a couple of chapters in and the dude uses the word Grok or Grokking with great frequency! I was pleased to have already rooted out the definition beforehand!


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