Cayce asked:

How is Valentine so incredibly different if he's the child of the scientists who crashed only 25 years ago? How does this make sense? What am I missing?

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Nick Valentine is human but was raised by Martians. I think Heinlein is attempting to portray the vastness of human potential as Duane said, as well as our adaptability. Who's to say that being raised by creatures with abilities surpassing humans wouldn't open up new avenues within the human brain. We are more complex than we can ever know. The nature of the brain is largely unknown, what could we be missing due to the constraints of our surroundings?
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) It's the old "child raised by wolves" scenario...except the Venusians have an entirely different culture which they have taught him. Remember that in the fifties and sixties, sci fi was "junkfood" fiction, kind of like the cosy mysteries of today, so huge holes were ignored by the readers with ease.
Duane Alexander Miller Heinlein is, I believe, arguing that human beings have immense untapped potential that can be accessed with the right educational system. People have been noting this for some time, like when they say that humans use only 10 or 20 percent of their brains. What would it be like if we used all of that potential? Heinlein is giving his answer in VMS.
Adhoc It's called science fiction.
Raederle Phoenix I think that most people will have trouble comprehending the profound truths Robert is putting forward in Stranger in a Strange Land. What Mike does is no more profound than what gurus, sages, avatars, monks, prophets, etc, have been doing and saying for millennia. These concepts are further expanded by a book called Illusions which goes into the *why* of it all. It is also in the format of a story, and teaches by showing. It is a short book, and worth the read if you really want to understand what Robert Heinlein is trying to teach us.
Rod Horncastle Good question. I had to think about it as well.

Basically - you take 8 super smart, hard working, healthy, non-religious (I think?), astronauts and send them to colonize a new planet: This is what they come up with and pass on to their children.
Then the ancients eventually have no love or compassion for anything but their altruistic leanings. Great ending eh?
MaryAlice Not many human babies are raised by Martians making Valentine quite different than the rest. One incredible difference is Michael's lack of understanding as to why humans wear clothes other then for protection against the elements. Martians do not feel the need to cover their bodies, thus Michael did not understand why public nakedness was frowned upon on earth.

When he sensed "a wrongness" he could make weapons or humans disappear. Can humans do that? He could speed read and retain knowledge at an amazing pace ~ encyclopedias, dictionaries and books of all kinds. How many humans have that ability?

Those are just a few examples of how different a child raised by Martians on Mars would be from a child raised on earth.
Benjamin W Yea I didn't quite Grok this either. Merely being taught by and growing up with Martians would not be enough to change his physiology. I think it is implied he was not a mere human after all though. John Carter suffers from a similar problem for similar reasons.
Robert 'Rev. Bob' Valentine/Mike/VMS is physically human but mentally Martian. From the uncut version: “Smith is not a man. He is an intelligent creature with the genes and ancestry of a man, but he is not a man. He’s more a Martian than a man. Until we came along he had never laid eyes on a human being. He thinks like a Martian, he feels like a Martian. He’s been brought up by a race which has nothing in common with us.”

In the first chapter, the Envoy goes silent after broadcasting that it is about to attempt a landing on Mars. The implication is that whatever happened in those 25 years, three things are true:

1. A member of the crew (apparently Mrs. Smith) gives birth.
2. The crew does not survive for long afterward.
3. VMS was raised by the Martian natives.

From those three points, I conclude one of two scenarios: either the natives killed the crew of the Envoy (unlikely but possible), or the crew died on their own (starvation or illness, perhaps) and the natives rescued VMS to raise him as one of their own.

Either way, VMS wasn't raised by the Envoy crew. Since he didn't learn English until the 25-years-later mission discovered him, he had to have been orphaned very early.
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