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Stranger in a Strange Land
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November Discussions > Nov 2014 - Stranger in a Strange Land

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I had to go look up the original publication date for this book and it is 53 years old and pre-dates the rise of the hippies, the counter culture in the 60s and the Sexual Revolution but this book helped to influence all three. He's not a Beat Generation author but I think his libertarian ideas were influenced by them - especially as a social libertarian. As far as the ideas in this book go, I think some of them seem almost cute half a century later but in an historical context, they are definitely ahead of their time and definitely caused a stir. I don't agree with all his politics, but I do enjoy how he uses his socio-political ideas to ask questions in his fiction.

My biggest takeaway from the first time I read this books is, of course, the use of the word Grok. I don't use it more than the average geek of my generation, I don't think, but I do use it.

For the book itself, I think it holds up well 53 years later and is still a great story. I love this book and I think it's a must read for any serious science fiction reader. It's good to revisit the classics of the genre occasionally to be reminded where it all came from.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read the book twice. One in the 80s and again in the 90s with "uncut original" version. Either way, I think it is one of the best all time science fiction novels, even, as Geoffrey said, you can't always agree with Heinlien.

I'm still thinking about rereading it, probably on audiobook.


Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 233 comments The whole "Grok" thing was totally overdone in the '70s. It was kind of embarassing, like suburban, white, middle class kids constantly saying "groovy" and "far out" and "right on!"...or admitting you played D&D (Every. Single. Weekend.)

Not that I ever did that. **shifty eyes**

So I can honestly say, I never say that, nor did I back in the day.

Been ages since I've read the book, though. And I'm too busy on other books to join in. I'm such a non-participant in these reads!


Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 231 comments I read the original version when it came out and eventually got the full version (published after Heinlein's death). When I read the full version, I didn't notice any difference in the basic story and I can't tell you where the extra stuff is.

Heinlein didn't like what the editors did to the story, but I think they must have done a good job if I can't tell you the difference between the two versions.


message 5: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 147 comments If you dig down to the bottom of every Heinlein SF novel, there's a kernel of magic there -- pure handwavium. The place where the author said, "I don't care if this cannot happen in real life, I decree it to be so!" In other words, much of Heinlein is not SF but fantasy fiction, as out there as hobbits and a magic ring!
In THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS the handwavium is in the line marriage concept. It has never worked in real life, for good reasons, and not for want of trying. In STRANGER the handwavium is similar. It's in the sex. That sex equals mind-reading sounds super and is something that only Heinlein could invent. But it is not borne out in real life, at all.


Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 231 comments Brenda wrote: "In THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS the handwavium is in the line marriage concept. It has never worked in real life, for good reasons, and not for want of trying...."

But doesn't qualify as "fantasy". It's possible and obeys the laws of physics, etc. that we know.

The rest ... yep. If you want almost pure fantasy from Heinlein, read Glory Road.


Conal (conalo) | 6 comments Brenda wrote: In STRANGER the handwavium is similar. It's in the sex. That sex equals mind-reading sounds super and is something that only Heinlein could invent. But it is not borne out in real life, at all."

I might be remembering the details of this book incorrectly but didn't the mind reading (and other mind powers) come from a full understanding of the Martian language?


Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 231 comments I think that would still count as fantasy?????


message 9: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 147 comments Well, since there is no Martian to learn we can't test it in a lab. But essentially it is magic.


Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 233 comments But so what? Really, I can't see it makes any difference to call anyone out on that. The structure of the work is SF and if you're an ardent "I only read fantasy" reader, the fact that this book has some fantastical elements isn't going to make it any more appealing...it's still about aliens and strange SF-ish things.

I guess that's kind of a pet peeve of mine. Sorry. Move along! ];P


Philip (phenweb) | 49 comments It's been many years since I read it but it remains a core SF book for me. I do prefer some of his other work more. As with other older SF writers they are also a product of their time and their opinions, sexism, racism even if countered in their stories reflect their time. Stranger stands out here because of it's mostly earth based assessment of the social situation.

Don't think I ever used Grok or will for anything


Conal (conalo) | 6 comments Just my opinion but this book was and still is Science Fiction. Mental powers is debunked science these days but that doesn't change the genre of this book. I also do not believe that mental powers (telepathy, telekenis etc...) = magic but that if that is what what works for you...


message 13: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 147 comments There's a couple of concepts -- telepathy is one, FTL another -- that although they have no basis in real life physics get a bye in SF. After all, they -could- be developed any day now.


Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 231 comments Brenda wrote: "There's a couple of concepts -- telepathy is one, FTL another -- that although they have no basis in real life physics get a bye in SF. After all, they -could- be developed any day now."

Saw this recently: "Brain-to-brain communication is finally possible"

http://alphilipson.wordpress.com/2014...


message 15: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Clough (brendaclough) | 147 comments If you sign a book contract these days, there will be a clause that reserves to the publisher all rights for publication modes yet to be invented. So yes, when they put the Kindle Brain on the market, they will have the rights.


Michael | 18 comments I'm a big fan of Heinlein and Stranger is probably my favorite of his "adult" SF books. Like most if not all of his books, it takes a science fictional setting, and uses it to examine moral, ethical and political issues. Whenever I read this one, I finish it wishing there was somewhere I could go to learn Martian. ;-)

Although I didn't end up agreeing with everything he espoused, Heinlein always made me think and I believe a lot of my beliefs and opinions these days can be traced back to something if his I read.


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