This is a story of an expedition to Mars that uncovers a survivor of a previous expedition ("Mike") who was raised by Martians, and thus thinks like Martians. They bring him back to Earth, where he's locked up by the authorities, until a sympathetic nurse named Gillian helps him to escape to the home of Jubal Harshaw, who appears to be some sort of writer/lawyer/journalist. Jubal, who's about as salty a character as they come, is interesting to watch as he fights off the forces of the world government that's trying to kidnap Mike and lock him up again. Mike can also vaporize people on site, which comes in handy when the government tries to grab him. Overall, the first half of this book is very interesting to watch as we hold our breath to see whether the government gets its hands on Mike.
The second half of the book is a different kettle of fish. Jubal gets the government to leave Mike alone by giving them control of his assets (!), and Mike goes off… to start his own quai-religion where he promotes the concept of polygamy (!). One of the main characters, Ben Caxton, is horrified by this, but then tries it out and finds that he likes it, and it isn't too long before Jubal comes on board as well. Basically, anyone in Mike's religion can, and does, have sex with anyone else at the drop of a hat (assuming they were wearing that much). If the book hadn't shattered enough traditional principals with all that free sex, the book ends with most of the main characters eating a recently deceased main character.
This was the beginning of the "polygameous" strain in Heinlein's books; in later books, he didn't need to establish a religion to have everyone jumping in the sack with each other: most of his later books took place in the future, where people just did that sort of thing naturally. While I could recommend the first half of this book, because of the intrigue/action-adventure elements, the second half is little more than a love-fest.
|Plot Summary of Stranger in a Strange Land|
|"A young man reared by aliens from Mars, tries to understand his new world. Finding the people around him unfocused in respect to their true potential, he tries to teach what he was taught on Mars. Gaining a core of followers he starts a religious movement based on love and Martian ethics. He is rejected by the powers of the establishment, and soon is destroyed in body, but not spirit. He lives on within each member of his 'core'."
Don McDaniel, Resident Scholar
|"This is a story of a boy raised on Mars by Martians who returns to Earth.
The boy, Michael, has unusual powers and is hunted by the authorities
who want to use him for their own ends. Michael reaches an
accomodation with authorities and starts his own religion,
which dictates that everyone hops into bed with everyone else,
and that dead people should be eaten in stew."
Steve, Resident Scholar
|"A young man had been brought up by Martians and brought back to Earth. He posses powers that no other human has and he starts to teach humans the ways of Martians."
irina, Resident Scholar
|"Stranger in a strange land is a book about a boy (Mike) born and raised on Mars, but brought to Earth in his 20s. He is rescued from a hospital by Gillian Boardman, a nurse and is meant to be taught by her and all of the other people in the house where they stayed, to be human.Yet,in the end, Mike starts his own nudist, canibalistic church and instead of learning from them he teaches everyone else to be martians. Not everyone agrees with this way of thinking."
Tabitha, Resident Scholar
|"Michael Smith is he only survivor of the first manned mission to Mars - and yet, he is a native-born Martian. In fact, he is the son of two of the crew, and when all the crew died, Michael was reared by the Martian race - super-intelligent and humane, but utterly alien. No further missions to Mars were attempted for many years.
The story begins with the return of the now-adult Michael to earth - physically a human being, but culturally, emotionally and mentally an alien.
Michael's view of Earth society (this novel is the source of the verb 'to grok') makes the reader look again at all the things usually taken for granted.
Melody Crookes, Resident Scholar
|Review Analysis of Stranger in a Strange Land|
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Ratings are on a 1-10 scale (Low to High)
Composition of Book
planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives - 30%
Feelings, relationships, character bio/development - 30%
Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places - 40%
Tone of book
- very upbeat
FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?
- science fiction story
What is main char. doing?
- rescue mission/escape from confinement
Mental/magical powers focus
- search for identity/new understanding
- coping with mental/magical powers
Is this an adult or child's book?
- Adult or Young Adult Book
Cultural problems, alien culture
- one human from different culture of other humans
Has magical/special powers?
Magical/mental powers of main character:
How sensitive is this character?
- sensitive to others' feelings
Sense of humor
- Strong but gentle sense of humor
- Smarter than most other characters
- very athletic
- Average intelligence
Takes place on Earth?
- mostly 3rd
Accounts of torture and death?
- generic/vague references to death/punishment
scientific jargon? (SF only)
- none/very little science jargon needed
Sex in book?
What kind of sex:
- vague references only
How much dialogue?
- mostly dialog
- roughly even amounts of descript and dialog