Gregorio Roth, November 9, 2010 (view all comments by Gregorio Roth)
Heinlein is a master of the literary craft. Here in Stranger in a Strange Land he interweaves human relations, large ideas (theology), and the art of the story. The story a Stranger in a Strange Land takes place in a New America, that is one world ordered hegemony. The world has made missions to mars and has set up a space colony there. The space colony had been deserted on the planes of Mars. The man from mars is found after many years of exposure to an alien race. The climax resolves whether Michael Valentine Smith will be excepted by the people of Earth. At times this book gets bogged down in Heinlein's philosophy, so it can be a difficult read.
What I liked about the book is its deep analysis of Faith. Heinlein first looks at the cult of the Fosterites. A cult where everyone is happy, and everyone thinks as a one happy unit. (I would like to go deeper into describing the Fosterites, but I am afraid that this would lead you down a rabbit hole and would maybe bore you deeply.)
Then he looks at how Michael Valentine Smith twists the Abrahamic religions to make a cult that combines elements of Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism.
The religion is based on the wisdom of the old ones. (I am only all that I Grok.) The perfect wisdom of the elders is not to be disputed at all. The cult members become entwined by a sharing of water together. They see each other as all Gods. Thou art god and so are my Guinea pigs and Lovebird. The religion replaces God and put man in God’s place, this allows man to worship created things.
When God’s proper place, to be above all, is replaced all is left in Chaos.
Because man is now God like, the divine things are the things that connect man in deeper communication. Sex is seen as sharing deeper with many people. The communal orgasm is sacred, a great religious experience. Cannibalism is the holiest way to die for it is taking the spirit of the other deeply into the body of the collective.
The book raised the question: What does it mean to be both God and man? Why could not Joseph and Mary give birth to the messiah? Why did it need to be a virginal birth? What becomes lost when the Messiah is merely a superman?
(Loved this book and Clucked it Loud)
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mooseaz, January 22, 2010 (view all comments by mooseaz)
If you want an amazing look at what it means to be 'human', this is it. I was a little put off at first with the background chapters as they were a little choppy. PUSH PAST IT!! Cause it's about to get amazing. A human child (Michael) is born on mars and raised my martians, knowing nothing of earth. He returns to earth as an adult and has to 'learn' to be human. To look at human nature through the eyes of not only another culture but a whole other species, is something Heinlein did amazingly well. My favorite scene is when Micheal goes to the zoo. He's watching a little monkey who is about to eat a peanut. A larger monkey takes the peanut and beats up the smaller monkey. The smaller one is frustrated and pounds the ground for a while, then finds an even smaller monkey and beats him up for no good reason and obviously feels much better. The smallest monkey finds his mother. Micheal laughs so hard at this that his friend has to put him in a cab and take him home. When he finally calms down he explains that he learned, the 'key' to being human is laughter. That laughter happens when something is so tragic that you HAVE to laugh just to make it stop hurting. He goes on to explain that if you look at anything you find a "real belly laugh" funny... is probably wrong in some way (someone getting hurt in a comical way, for example). He concludes with "When apes learn to laugh, they'll be people". This has stayed with me for years now. The idea that humOR is what makes us humAN. !jen
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ACE Charter -
by Kurt Vonnegut,
"A brilliant mind-bender."
by Library Journal,
"Stranger in a Strange Land is an international best seller and a landmark in more ways than one....Heinlein has been rightly criticized for presenting as facts his opinions....Yet the book is hard to put down; in its early pages it is a truly masterful sf story."
One of the greatest science fiction novels ever published, Stranger in a Strange Land's original manuscript had 50,000 words cut. Now they have been reinstated for this special 30th anniversary trade edition. A Mars-born earthling arrives on this planet for the first time as an adult, and the sensation he creates teaches Earth some unforgettable lessons.
In the 1960s, Stranger in a Strange Land became the first science-fiction title to appear on The New York Times Book Review's best-seller list.
Valentine Michael Smith is the stranger. A young human, reared by Martians on Mars, he is brought to Earth where he must adapt not only to the planet's social injustices and its population's foibles, but to its strong gravitational field and rich atmosphere.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.