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  • Published: New York : Berkley Publishing Group, 1987, c1961.
  • Year Published: 1961
  • Edition: Ace ed.
  • Description: 438 p. ; 18 cm.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 0441790348
  • 0441788386


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Stranger in a strange land

by Heinlein, Robert A. 1907-1988.

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Where To Find It

Call number: Science Fiction

Additional Details

The epic saga of an earthling, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with superhuman powers and a total ignorance of the mores of man.

Community Reviews

a bit dated, but fun because of that?

This is an example of Heilein being a bit self indulgent--his hero always has all the answers and gets all the girls and so on. But kind of a fun, campy read even so. It started some new words in pop culture--that have since faded away. I won't tell more for fear that they'd be spoiler-ish, but that goes to show the degree that the book captured or (vibrated in harmony with?) a certain aspect of its era's zeitgeist.

Smart, meandering, and dated.

The story of Valentine Michael Smith, a young man raised on Mars--by Martians--and his rocky assimilation into human culture. We get to view humanity through the eyes of a brilliant and disciplined but utterly innocent protagonist.

Stranger reminds me of another Heinlein novel (Friday) in the way the plot keeps jumping lanes. First it's a David-vs-Goliath thriller in which a motley crew of good Samaritans must protect the innocent prodigy from the greedy, dastardly world government. Wait he's safe now, and it's a coming of age tale with a unique perspective. Blink, and it's a quirky essay: On Religion and Human Sexuality. I know this is supposed to be a literary great but the story's lack of "identity" kept throwing me.

The gender politics were...interesting. A weird mix of ahead-of-its-time feminism and throwback chauvinism. On one hand, Heinlein's female characters are capable and independent. On the other they're always looking to get married, and are routinely called by infantilizing pet names like "sweetfeet", "child" and "cherub". One hand: the utopia Smith tries to build provides flawless birth control and STD prevention to women, who have the ability (thanks to Martian psychic discipline) to make rapists and other purveyors of violence just disappear forever; it's a sexual egalitarian paradise. Other hand: one of the three chief protagonists remarks offhandedly that 90% of the time when a woman is raped she's at least a little bit at fault (I looked for some indication that this was stated ironically or in ignorance, but I don't think that was the case). I realize that Stranger was published in '61, but the feminist schizophrenia was still jarring.


I found this book interesting, but very outdated. I had a hard time getting past the gender stereotypes and how women were portrayed. I try to keep perspective and understand that the book was written 50 years ago, but it really affected my enjoyment of the book.

a classic

I first read this book in high school (class of '75), and have read it every few years since. I love the biblical references - I'm sure that they make religious people uncomfortable, as they should...

Lives up to the hype, in a way

Good book, meanders in some places though. It will surprise you in the end. While reading, take particular care to consider that many view Jubal Harshaw as the main character of the book, even though he isn't introduced immediately. His character was possibly the best developed from the book.

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