Sunday, March 18, 2012

Book Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

 Title:       Stranger in a Strange Land
Author:   Robert A. Heinlein
Genre:      SFF
Award:    Hugo Awardee
Rating:    ★ ★ ★ ★ 


It's been a while since I had my last book review. Five months indeed of hiatus if my calculation isn’t yet failing me. I have three reasons why it took me so long: first, I became tired of reviewing and thinking what to write; second, writing a review consumes the time of my continuous reading; third, I believe my ratings are justice enough of my evaluation. And lately, I was trembling whenever I start to write a review. 

I had no idea about this book until one of my Goodreads friends, who's a solid SFF reader, rated this with five stars and recommended this to me. The book intrigued me so much that I searched for it for months. Of course, while searching I learned that this book is a Hugo Awardee, one of the SF badges on books to persuade readers. But believe me, once a Hugo Awardee book failed to make you, you'd jump into conclusion that it's not just to persuade readers but to deceive as well. 

His name is Valentine Michael Smith, a Human, but a Martian-raised one. He is rescued by a Federation Ship Champion on Mars to bring him on Earth. Without knowing of anything about humans, he tries to learn and understand people even he knows that some of human actions are too far for him to understand.
Gillian Borman is simply a nurse who works at the same building as the Man from Mars is kept. When she meets the Martian, there starts the chaos. She hasn't just helped Mike escaped from being kept but she has helped him also how to behave as human as Mike teaches her back how to grok.

Swear! The first part was quite mysterious that I believe it hooked me up to continue reading it. Heinlein really got me there, no doubt. Unfortunately, as the story went on, my interest was also losing. Figuratively and literally, the main character was harnessed over the waves of political issues and human malice. Sadly to say, Heinlein failed to play the situation and focused instead the concept of his book on being a soft science fiction. The existence of antagonist has barely surfaced up that I, as reader, find it uninteresting. The fight to learn and the urge to understand human is there but the complication of the situation is quite not felt. He never eked out the other factor such as being chased by the government and some probable complications to cause some actions, which I think would have been better if done so. 

The mixed-up of religion beliefs screwed up the concept that should have great if used well. Heinlein as if just shared his religious stand in which quietly as it seemed started to become irrelevant to his main focus of the story and thus becoming a disease inconspicuously. Contrary, I, in fact, appreciate the cult's intention in the story which is not to oppose the traditional beliefs but to emphasize how the Martian-raised human understood theology. Fortunately, that thing bought me a lot, for Heinlein made sure that despite of the amazing development of his character when it comes to adaption of humanness, the innocence that had been there since from the beginning should still retain. 

As I said, Heinlein just focused on being a Soft Science Fiction of the book. Relatively, the main characters development or progress was quite rapid that I don't reckon to be cogent since given the fact that his ancestry was human. His learning didn't undergo gradually, instead went rush that I did find way unbelievable. To support the latter, I'm totally dismayed that some of his unnatural doings didn't have scientific theories. I was digging for some scientific basis of main character’s abilities, but unfortunately, I found nothing. 

My rating may contradict my statements, but believe me, I don't want to spoil the book that I really liked how it ended. And since Heinlein is considered as one of the best sci-fi writers, this book is really worth the try.


  1. Hey Rollie, can you shoot me your email address at poegeek (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can send you the Mistborn read along questions? Thanks!

  2. Hello Carl. I did already. Hope you get it. :)