Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein Review by Doug Gogerty
Heinlein's classic, Stranger in a Strange Land, suffers from some things that it cannot help. For one, it is a bit dated. The women are secretaries or strippers—not exactly, but it seems that way. Thus, Heinlein's treatment of female characters will turn a lot of people off. Secondly, it is obvious that Heinlein is not enamored with religion—this will turn other people off. It will depend upon your own boundaries on whether you can get out of it what is actually there.
So, what is actually there? It is an excellent study on world building, creating a world that is both recognizable and odd. We get an excellent group of characters that grow and change. In that alone, the book succeeds. Heinlein has a number of stunning descriptions, but he doesn't get carried away with them.
The plot is interesting. There are a few twists and turns. You do not know what the author is getting at from chapter to chapter. While the ending is not a complete surprise, it is a satisfactory finish to the story.
Apart from its flaws (from being written when it was) it is a really good book. If you want to see a view of the future from the 1950's, this would be a good study. Naturally, Heinlein's future vision wasn't even close, but that's okay. Predicting the future is hard to do. Little things can make big differences. Writing fiction is a different matter, and I will say that I greatly enjoyed this book.
Doug Gogerty is a writer and Senior Technical Specialist living in Minnesota. He runs a storytelling blog, Around the Campfire, and is a moderator on the ARWZ Writing Forum.