Kate's Reviews > Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
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's review
Mar 07, 2007

Recommended for: NOBODY!
Read in February, 2007

(Note: Original pub date is 1961)

Fuck you, Heinlein!!! That's like 3 or 4 hours of my life I'm NEVER GETTING BACK. This isn't a book, it's a pompous recitation of every one of your pet peeves and pet theories, delivered through the mouths of your utterly two-dimensional "characters" during the course of a nonexistent plot. You can throw all the orgies and kinky sex you want in there, but it doesn't make your book edgy or profound, and it sure doesn't make you a good writer.

Although, bonus hilarity points to Mr. Heinlein for putting tons of lesbian stuff in there, but going out of his way to say that the men don't touch each other AT ALL, because that would totally be GAY, and I'M TOTALLY NOT INTO THAT, OKAY? HEY, HOW 'BOUT THEM NAKED CHICKS? Yeah, whatever Heinlein. Go tend to your masculine insecurities elsewhere.

....Ok, moving on.
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02/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 55) (55 new)

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I Like your review.
I just finished slamming this book down repeatedly on a hard surface, and I'm STILL angry about it.

message 2: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Philip wrote: "I Like your review.
I just finished slamming this book down repeatedly on a hard surface, and I'm STILL angry about it.

Thanks, I had fun writing it :)

Andrew Klem Thank you so much for writing this.

message 4: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Kate, your use of the F Bomb does not make you "edgy or profound" either. It makes you sound ignorant. And you probably are far from it.

message 5: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Maria wrote: "Kate, your use of the F Bomb does not make you "edgy or profound" either. It makes you sound ignorant. And you probably are far from it."

Well, you just re-posted your comment after I deleted it, so I may as well reply.

It appears that my use of the "F bomb" has offended you. I am not aware that swearing is forbidden in Goodreads' rules or terms of service. If that is not the case then please point me to the relevant link describing the profanity rules, and I will remove the word.

I write my reviews for me, to capture my reaction to a book. I'm surprised anyone ever read this review at all, and regardless I don't care whether my language offends. If you don't like it, stop reading. Your assertion that the use of profanity makes me sound ignorant (as well as your assumption that I did it to look cool) is irrelevant and out of touch. I'd be offended, I guess, but I don't care that you think I sound ignorant anymore than you care that I think your objection to swearing is outdated. We clearly disagree on this (which is fine), but it's frankly bizarre that you took the time to try and shame me, a total stranger, into adhering to your linguistic moral code.

I spend almost no time on Goodreads and never bothered to figure out all the functionality. I have no idea how people find this review - if it pops up unbidden in your window, or if you have to actively search for it. If you didn't intend to read my review and were somehow ambushed by the profanity therein through no fault of your own, I suggest you contact the admins at Goodreads to put in a request for an optional profanity filter.

message 6: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Obviously I offended you as well, although I said that it makes you SOUND ignorant, not that you ARE ignorant. If you notice, I said you are probably far from it. As far as finding this review, I stumbled onto it while reading reviews for Stranger in a Strange Land, and I actually agree with you so far in your opinion of it. I know there are no rules per se about profanity on this site, I have just always felt that it is unnecessary to punctuate normal speech with it (vs. saying it in anger or surprise). I was just taken aback by it because I haven't seen too much of it on this site. No offense.

Andrew Klem Umm... I still think this review was awesome.. :) I wish there more reviews like this on NPR.

message 8: by Emily (new)

Emily This review is awesome. That is all.

Lyle Dokken Sorry you couldn't get beyond to see the wonder of this work by a master of scifi.

Harun Perfect!

message 11: by Roman (new) - rated it 1 star

Roman Perfectly put. This book was so bad I had to stop reading 3/4 of the way through and I very rarely quit reading books.

message 12: by King Shit of Turd Mountain (last edited Jan 12, 2015 07:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

King Shit of Turd Mountain Wait a minute ... you finished this 500-odd page book in only 3-4 hours? Thou art god.

message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Liebson Thanks I appreciate the review (and the cursing). Definitely won't read this now :)

David If you took that much of offense to Heinlein's worldview, I'm curious to hear what you think about Chandler's/Lovecraft's perspective on minorities or Wells's positive opinion regarding eugenics. I think you are bringing your personal sociopolitical baggage to the story and guilty of the same sin you place upon Heinlein.

message 15: by Christina (new)

Christina Scrolling through these comments, I have to say, I love how mad people get when someone doesn't like a book they liked.

message 16: by Rafa (new) - rated it 1 star

Rafa Camacho This awesome fucking review accurately describes this piece of shit book! Don't heed the protestations of Heinlein's asshole fans, they're just a bunch of whiny cunts (in the British and Australian sense.)

But seriously, contextualized or not, this book is doltish and uninventive. Take away the painfully redundant and unsophisticated sci-fi component, and you're left with a substandard postwar novel. I think its popularity can be attributed to the fact that it "captures the imagination" of the unimaginative.

message 17: by Agent (new) - rated it 1 star

Agent this is by far the most insightful review on the site

message 18: by Marilyn Maxwell (new)

Marilyn Maxwell I don't think you need to use obscenities to critic a book

message 19: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Neither do I. See Comment #4.

message 20: by Michelle (new)

Michelle I rather reviewers not use profanity mostly b/c my students, middle school age, use this site and it should be a safe place for them.

message 21: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Totally agree, Michelle. It's not that it's not allowed - just in poor taste. It's unnecessary for intelligent people to have to emphasize their thoughts with obscenities.

Cball Thank you for your observations. I could care less that you used the f-bomb--it is right on target. I totes agree and yes--I did just totally use slang!

message 23: by Kate (new) - added it

Kate Haha oh man there was a little kerfuffle months ago about the profanity again, eh? If you want to ban profanity talk to the site admins and change the rules! It's not my responsibility to make this site "a safe place" for middle schoolers (and may I boggle for a moment at the idea that, amidst all the truly frightening things on the internet, a few bad words will make them 'unsafe'?) and believe me they already know the word "fuck."

There is a interesting cultural debate to be had about the place of profanity in public and private discourse, but go have it somewhere else instead of trying to police me. Society as a whole has changed its view towards profanity - look at the increasing permissiveness on TV and radio - and your own views on it will be the product of your own personal background and environment. Profanity carries an undeniable and unique linguistic impact, which is why I choose to use it in certain situations. Everyone is more than welcome to disagree and govern their own behavior accordingly, but it's rather a waste of time to scold strangers on the internet.

The one thing I do take offense to is the idea that "intelligent people don't need to swear." You can certainly comment on whether you think someone has presented their arguments intelligently and appropriately for a given situation, but an "if you swear you must be an idiot" zero-tolerance policy is (heh) unintelligent as well as profoundly classist and elitist. Take some time to question your own assumptions about what language is for, and what it says about a given writer.

...and now on to a more interesting topic that I was tempted to address in the original review, but did not in order to streamline. One reviewer defended the book by accusing me of having a problem with Heinlein's worldview, which actually completely misunderstood my review - my issue was not that he had a particular worldview, but that the book was a thinly veiled way for him to recite that worldview rather than a coherent piece of literature. But, he mentioned my "sociopolitical baggage," which inadvertently got at something I do believe is intriguing: the changing perception of the book's quality over time.

I had a brief exchange with my dad about this book, who had read it when it came out and I think liked it better than I did. It got me to thinking about how a book, no matter how dubious its literary quality, might have an outsize impact in its time period if it presents influential or controversial ideas in a way that grabs people. I would be very interested to hear more about the contemporary reaction to this book, and its role in the larger cultural discourse of the time.

That being said, I feel no compunction about reviewing the book from within my own cultural context, and with an eye to how the book stands the test of time. At the time the fluid attitude towards sexuality was probably progressive and revolutionary; the modern reader, however, cannot help but be struck by the the obvious male wish-fulfillment embodied in the two-dimensional female characters. Combine the tiresome gender roles with the lack of literary quality, and for me it means that this book does not provide anything of value or interest to the modern reader. Without the cultural impact it might have had in the 60s, it's just not worthwhile.

message 24: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria Profanity is the adjective of the unintelligent boor.

message 25: by Roman (new) - rated it 1 star

Roman Interesting points Kate, and well said about the profanity. Meanwhile, look at Maria with the ad hominem attacks, with no real substance behind them. Pathetic.

message 26: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria No, Roman, what is pathetic is when someone as obviously intelligent as Kate who has some really good points to make, feels the need to punctuate her remarks with the F-Bomb on a site where we all know kids are present.

It's like she's saying "I can if I want, no rule against it - can't make me, nyah, nyah...".

So since she can, she does, oblivious to all else.

Oh, and nice use of vocabulary with "ad hominem" - although it doesn't fit the context at all, it's still a cool term.

Kelli Whithorn Fuck. Thou art so very not god.
You just don't grok. Poor little mind.

Master c'mon i'm sure sure heinlein dropped the f bomb a couple times when all he got was denise richards in his shitty movies and l ron hubbard got tom "mother fucking" cruise to pray to his religion.

message 29: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria I'm not offended by the F word. If I stub my toe or drop my phone in the toilet I will say it. It's just not necessary in normal conversation - IN MY OPINION it makes you sound like you're trying to be cool or sophisticated - which it doesn't.

message 30: by Keith (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Amberg Jesus Maria, get off your fucking high horse.

message 31: by Keith (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Amberg Jesus Maria, get off your fucking high horse.

message 32: by Maria (last edited Nov 04, 2014 07:11AM) (new) - added it

Maria Keith wrote: "Jesus Maria, get off your fucking high horse."

Keith you made my point for me. Thank you. BTW, you sound so sophisticated and mature when you use the F word.

message 33: by John (new)

John Dennis I went ahead and read this book despite your negative review and actually quite liked it. I'm sorry that Heinlein (who you have clearly read absolutely nothing about) disappointed you with unevenness in his homosexual eroticism--in 1960. Though I don't necessarily disagree with your inherent (and blatant) feminism I do disagree with your inability to read a novel like this from any other perspective. Congratulations.

message 34: by Keith (new) - rated it 1 star

Keith Amberg Well, I for one only got through half of the book before returning it and it had nothing to do with orgies or homosexuality. I found the book to be really boring and the SF was awful.

spikeINflorida Kate, your user profile is "private". I think it says something like this: I lead when I dance, got lots of cats and plants....

message 36: by Brenda (new)

Brenda I personally take no offense in your use of profanity, I feel sometimes you just need to say a good "fuck" to express how frustrated you are. I guess the only thing I can say about this, is that it was distracting. All I really read was "I fucking hate this book, this fucking guy's a homophobe" which is fine I guess, but I feel like you were trying to say so much more, and I have no idea what that was, mainly because all the cursing made me laugh--I'm like a 12 year old that way--Cursing just makes everything seem funny, instead of serious, and I guess I just want to be able to take a review serious.

Anyhow, I'm still going to read the book, because I got it as a Christmas gift, and it just seems rude not to read it.

message 37: by Glen (new) - added it

Glen More or less because I want to see if there is a connection to the title of this scifi book and the Iron Maiden song of the same name. However after reading this review and the posts that have followed I TOTALLY have to put this on my to read list, you people have entertained me for the past 20 minutes! Thank you.

message 38: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Conrad I understand why people would be offended by some of the opinions of the author that become apparent here. But it just seems like the people who can't appreciate this novel are missing the point. Take the sexism out if you must and try to realize why this book is listed as one of the most highly acclaimed novels of the 20th century. The background of the main character, Michael Valentine Smith, gives the author the perfect tool to delve deeply into a study of human nature. He gives us an outsiders view of what it means to be human. He exposes both the ugliness and the beauty of human beings in an extremely profound way by viewing humans through the eyes of someone who has been socialized in a society that is completely and utterly alien. This book tells us what it means to be human.

Some of the insights Heinlin offers here are genius. He shows us that laughter is a coping mechanism that allows us to accept the ugliness and pain of life. He points out that, in the Japanese language, there are 7 different ways to thank somebody...and each word or phrase that translates into `thank you` also expresses resentment. When we are put into a position where it becomes necessary to show gratitude, we must acknowledge that we are incapable of meeting our own needs and wants. To thank somebody, we must admit to our own shortcomings. The fact that someone else does not share these inadequacies fosters feelings of resentment. We may not consciously think of this, but logic insists on its truth...this is just one example of the priceless gems found in this novel.

Just give it a chance. Don't dismiss the entire book as trash because it contains sexist views. If Socrates expressed sexist views in Platos Republic, would you then deny the importance and genius of the most widely read book in human history? I truly hope not.

message 39: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Conrad Really? This isn't the forum to discuss whether or not profanity is a mark of stupidity or disrespect. Getting wayyyyyy off topic.

message 40: by Maria (new) - added it

Maria This can be the forum for whatever the commenters want it to be.

King Shit of Turd Mountain Well then let's make it about how Kate was able to read this book in only 3-4 hours. Was this only a 3-4 hour read for everybody? Because I'm starting to feel as though there is a chance I might be what we used to refer to as "mentally retarded" or "simple".

message 42: by Roman (new) - rated it 1 star

Roman This is how I picture Maria's "issue":


Master King Shit of Turd Mountain wrote: "Well then let's make it about how Kate was able to read this book in only 3-4 hours. Was this only a 3-4 hour read for everybody? Because I'm starting to feel as though there is a chance I might be..."

Sorry simpleton I finished in 2hrs and 47mins

King Shit of Turd Mountain 2 hours 47? Seriously? How do you guys do it? Are you skimming over it? I literally read at the same pace as speech. I take no offence to being called a simpleton, because quite clearly I am. This is like being born blind and discovering for the first time that everyone else can see.

Jeffrey Schmieder Another review where the book isn't judged by the quality but by how they disagreed with the author's politics. About halfway through the book now and I do find its future dated but don't hold that against the novel. It does have some interesting ideas, especially the half man/half Martian. One of the more intriguing characters Heinlein has created.

message 46: by Roman (new) - rated it 1 star

Roman Jeffrey, I only judged this book on quality and not at all on its politics, and it was terrible.

message 47: by Ace (new)

Ace McGee Great review! I read this book over 40 years ago. The only thing I remember about it, was mind melding and having great sex. This book was required reading in the early 70s, not for any academic reasons, but because ALL the young ladies at university, (well, all the ones who read), thought this story was the cat's pajamas! If you were going to a party, this story was going to come up.
Hope you can grok that.

message 48: by Jeff (new) - added it

Jeff FUCKING awful review! (My apologies 3rd party audience, I just had to respond in kind.) Kate, based on how your review reads, you seem like you have a childish, immature and utterly shallow mind. I suggest you make a pilgrimage to Tierra Del Fuego by motorcycle, and then reread it, as your view frankly seem just as prejudiced as Jubal's.

message 49: by Darrion (new) - added it

Darrion Moore thank you so much Jeff, this book (aside from all of the sexist comments) i will admit there wasnt a really strong direction with the plot but it did indeed have one. The main point or i should say moral of the story is being pulled along by dozens of philosophical meanings and understandings from and entirely different perspective that eventually leads to his actions. Still a great read.

message 50: by Ashley M (new) - added it

Ashley M So... usually I don't waste my time on a book with horrible reviews, but after reading everyone's posts, I think I have to waste it on this one. You have all piqued my curiosity. I'm not sure yet if I should thank you for the book I'll add to my list, or agree with those who didn't like it, so just in case, thank you, and I agree.

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