Wednesday, July 06, 2005

19. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land book pictureIt's obviously a science fiction classic and one that I've been meaning to read for a long time. I have to say that I really didn't like it very much. I'm sure there is a lot of contextual information of which I'm ignorant that would help me appreciate the book more and I'm also sure that it hasn't aged well (which is not necessarily a valid criticism of a work of art). I found it to be inconsistently structured, with long passages of conversation that were basically philosophical musings interspersed with short narrative steps forward. The philosophy was very annoying for me because most of it was relayed through the voice of Jubal Harshaw who talked like Travis McGhee. He had that early 60s american hip style where nobody can seem to say anything in a straightforward manner. There always has to be some clever little joke, exaggeration or sarcasm. And since all the philosophy was about human sexual relations, it didn't help that it was totally sexist. This free love perfect world seemed based on the idea that all the women were young and beautiful, playful and willing to do anything the men asked. They still cook the dinner even though all you have to do is push a button! And Michael's perfect world of free love, which all the characters in the book perfectly accept, had absolutely no room for homosexuality. Very convenient, indeed.

Perhaps this book was a real wake-up call to audiences of the late '50s. But today, it seemed like unsophisticated and self-indulgent rambings about north american sexual mores.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I've never been a huge fan of Heinlein. As an author, though, he demands respect as the originator of many SF tropes. I find his work dates much more than his contemporaries.