Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book review: "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein

I read this for a book group I recently joined. I don't generally read science fiction, and with a few notable exceptions, I usually don't enjoy it a whole lot when I do.

I found myself making notes about items that he referred to as being in use that were not invented yet when he wrote the book: faxes, two-way-TV, microwave ovens.  That was perhaps the most interesting part of the book for me.

Other than that, it left me rather cold. I liked the way it started, there was something dark and creepy underneath all that naivete and innocence. I thought the book could have been much more interesting than it was had he plumbed the depths of the Martians' desire to destroy the earth. That would have been a novel and interesting story.

Instead he gave us an alleged new rendering of the Christ Myth, turning would-be religious leaders into a carnival freakshow, with a gnostic spin.

The version I read was the "unedited" revision in which 60,000 words that had been edited out of the originally published version were added back in for publication in a more open-minded era.  I had the sense that a large chunk of those 60,000 words would have been better left out. The story meandered too much.  It needed tightening up.

It's a classic, so I'm glad I read it. I won't read anything else by this author, however.

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