Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Stranger in a Strange Land new cover Stranger in a Strange Land (1962)
1962 Hugo Award Winner

Probably Heinlein's most famous novel - it was a underground book with a cult following in the 1960s

Ace paperback (left)

1980s Berkley paperback (right)
cover art by Carl Lundgren
438 pages
Stranger in a Strange Land 1980s cover

Amy's summary  Robert A. Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land

This is the story of Valentine Michael Smith (a.k.a. Mike), the Man from Mars.  He is child of missing colonists, raised by Martians.  He is brought to Earth but because of his odd innocence the Federation keeps him hidden.  Nurse Gillian or Jill Boardman sneaks in to see him, befriends him, and becomes his first water brother.

Jill helps Mike escape to the compound of opinionated doctor, lawyer, and author Jubal Harshaw.  They learn that Mike has unusual psi powers.  Mikes tries to "grok" humanity, and gets a confused notion of what religion is.  After his safety is assured Mike visits a Fosterite Tabernacle of the unconventional Church of the New Revelation.

Mike and Jill go out in the world to increase Mike's education.  They join a carnival where they meet tattooed lady Patricia Paiwonski who handles snakes . Later Mike and his growing circle of friends found an unusual church to teach his ideas and the Martian language, the Nest of which is a commune that practices nudity and free love.

summary written by
Stranger in a Strange Land 1970s cover More book covers:

Stranger in a Strange Land

1970s Berkley paperback (left)

1960s Avon paperback
cover art by Hector Garrido
414 pages (right)
Stranger in a Strange Land 1960s cover

How we each rated this book
Dan 8 Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri 6 Barb 6
Aaron 8 Cynthia 8
Lars - Jackie -
Richard 8 Janae 7

Our book group has also read the following books by Robert A. Heinlein:
-- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress  in February 1995
-- Starman Jones  in October 1999
-- Friday  in January 2002
-- Citizen of the Galaxy  in October 2006
-- Have Spacesuit, Will Travel  in April 2008
-- Double Star  in February 2009
-- Time Enough for Love  in March 2009
-- The Star Beast  in April 2009

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) was a US science fiction writer, perhaps the all-time most important writer of science fiction.

(note: he wrote many important works before the major SF awards were created)
1956 Hugo Award for novel Double Star
1960 Hugo Award for novel Starship Troopers
1962 Hugo Award for novel Stranger in a Strange Land
1967 Hugo Award for novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

He began publishing SF short fiction in 1939. His pre-eminence in the field from 1940 to 1960 was unassailable.

Some of his early works fit in his loose Future History such as the story collections The Man who Sold the Moon (1950), The Green Hills of Earth (1951), Revolt in 2100 (1953), and the novels Methuselah's Children (1941, revised 1958), and Orphans in the Sky (fixup 1963).

Published first under pseudonyms were Sixth Column (1941, a.k.a. The Day After Tomorrow), and Beyond this Horizon (1942).

Heinlein made an major contribution to young adult SF.  Many SF fans today grew up reading these Heinlein juveniles: Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), Space Cadet (1948), Red Planet (1949), Farmer in the Sky (1950), Between Planets (1951), The Rolling Stones (1952), Starman Jones (1953), The Star Beast (1954), Tunnel in the Sky (1955), Time for the Stars (1956), Citizen of the Galaxy (1957), Have Space Suit -Will Travel (1958) and Podkayne of Mars (1963).

Novels for grownups Heinlein wrote in the 1950s include The Puppet Masters (1951) an invasion tale; Double Star (1956) about a failed actor who impersonates a politician; and The Door into Summer (1957) which involves suspended animation ("long sleep") and time-travel.

Starship Troopers (1958) was originally written as a juvenile, but was rejected by his publisher because of its violence.  It is the first book in which Heinlein strongly voiced his opinions.

Stranger in a Strange Land (1962), probably Heinlein's most well known novel, involves a commune, free love, and a new religion.  It was a cult-book for students in the late 1960s.

Glory Road (1963) is a sword and sorcery fantasy.  The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) is about a revolution by Moon colonists.

Many of his later works are long rambling opinionated novels about extended families, such as Farnham's Freehold (1964), I Will Fear No Evil (1970), Time Enough for Love (1973), The Number of the Beast (1979), The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985) and To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987).  The last four books revolve around immortal Lazarus Long.  The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (1978) is extracts from Time Enough for Love.

Other later works are Friday (1982) and Job: A Comedy of Justice (1984).

Additional Heinlein story collections are Waldo and Magic, Inc (1950), Assignment in Eternity (1953), The Menace from Earth (1959), The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1959, also called 6 X H), Three by Heinlein (1965), The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein (1966), The Past Through Tomorrow (1967), The Best of Robert Heinlein (1973), Expanded Universe (1980), and Requiem (1992).

Grumbles from the Grave (collection 1989) edited by Virginia Heinlein includes letters.  Tramp Royale (written 1953-4, published 1992) is a travel memoir.

For Us, the Living (2003) was published posthumously, it was the first novel he wrote in 1937.

Variable Star (2006) by Spider Robinson was written from a 1955 outline by Heinlein.

Our book club's page for Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein
Our book club's page for The Star Beast Star by Robert A. Heinlein
Arrastra SF: Robert A. Heinlein - The Door into Summer
Robert A. Heinlein - Wikipedia
Quotable Heinlein
Stranger in a Strange Land cover art
Classic Science Fiction Reviews - Stranger in a Strange Land

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This page was last updated March 03, 2009