Was Stranger in a Strange Land a science fiction novel or a philosophy book?
I was pleasantly surprised by how this book uses humor to delve into the philosophy of religion, sex, and money. The story is set up to be a typical “man from Mars finds Earth life a curiosity” but becomes so much more than that. What happens when you throw a blank slate into the commotion of Earth life, and they don’t have to abide by anything they deem wrong? It’s discovered that Valentine Michael Smith, the man from Mars, has the ability to make things disappear if he deems there is a “wrongness” about them. “Thou art god, I am god. All that groks is god.” When Mike discovers that money is required to obtain necessary things there’s nothing stopping him from using those powers to hit jackpot on the slots consistently. If a person or police officer means to do harm to Mike or one of his “water brothers” they simply disappear.
There is something incredibly intriguing about reading books from the past about the future. Sometimes that future is bleak, othertimes there is optimism over where humanity is heading. In Stranger in a Strange Land, we see a world that is nearly satirical in how low we will go as a society. Horoscopes are used in a serious manner for consultation, people tend to be mysongynist, and church is a combination of the wildest televangilist, casinos, and sex cults. This world isn’t touted as some sort of utopia, so I tend not to agree with a lot of the criticism this book receives for it’s depiction of women. In reading the book we aren’t reading what a man from the 1960’s believes the way things ought to be, we are reading a well-writen story about what the world could potentially be in the future from the point of view of a handful of ficticious characters.
Stranger in a Strange land is an amazing book and deserves all the praise it gets. Heinlein does a wonderful job of writing clever characters to keep the story engaging while making you laugh at the same time. I can easily recommend this book to everyone, and I grok you’ll enjoy your time reading it.
10 out of 10