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Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land Review
Have you ever considered your culture's customs from an outsider's perspective?
Stranger in a Strange Land is about a human (Valentine Micheal Smith) born and raised on Mars who returns to Earth. His knowledge of Earthly customs is limited and he has to rely on explanations from other people for everything, even the concept of swimming. As a human-alien Smith is completely unique and attracts worldwide attention. As the government attempts to determine whether he has the rights to his family's inventions and even whether he in fact owns Mars, Smith finds Earthly friends that help him understand the world and make sense of his new planet.
Stranger in a Strange Land is a very compelling and interesting book. Robert Heinlein uses Valentine Michael Smith's complete tabula rasa state concerning Earth customs and ideas to question everything from religion to government processes to romantic relationships. This is one of Robert Heinlein's most important and influential books.
Mike is utterly civilized. Martian style.
Stranger in a Strange Land describes ostensibly simple subjects to an outsider with no previous knowledge of those concepts. The idea that people should really think about the world around them and truly consider the concepts that they have taken for granted occurs throughout this book. On the face of it this does not seem like a particularly Earth-shattering idea, but people tend to get complacent about how things are. People have a tendency to blindly accept religion and the government because there's a prevalent idea that, because something has been a certain way for hundreds of years, then it must be the best possible way. Today people are better at questioning the status quo than they have been in the past. People travel and experience other cultures more, the vast Internet has a plethora of information about every culture in recorded history for anyone who is interested; the norm seems to be shifting towards being accepting of other cultures (within reason). But, for all that progress, it is still not the norm to take the time to question everything that your culture has taught you.
"Smith is an intelligent creature with the ancestry of a man, but he is more Martian than man. Until we came along he had never laid eyes on a man. He thinks like a Martian, feels like a Martian. He's been brought up by a race which has nothing in common with us - they don't even have sex. He's a man by ancestry, a martian by environment."
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Winner of the Hugo Award
"Discover the strange and wonderful practice of water-sharing; and (if you are ready) learn to grok."
The Heinlein Society
- Heinlein Society
The Heinlein Society website contains biographies of Robert Heinlein and his wife as well as many articles about his works. Take a look around if you are a fan of his or if this review has piqued your interest.