Sunday, 14 December 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

I just finished reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and I've been left a bit bemused by it all I have to say. It starts off pretty good, but about half way through it goes off in a very weird direction, and I'm not sure that it was enjoyable by the end - I'd just gotten so far in to it that I had to finish the story.

Mike Smith is the first human raised by Martians; brought back to Earth in his twenties, he becomes involved in the strange future human society that has flourished, first trying to get to grips with an alien world, and then showing his new "water brothers" what his Martian family have taught him. He inherits a fortune, works in the circus and founds a church... And the book could really be about half the size it is. I was reading the unabridged version, and I can't help but wonder what the originally published version was like, and whether it was a better read.

Heinlein's politics always make for an interesting read, and the subject matter is pretty good, but overall it's bloated, extremely dialogue heavy and there are times when it feels like some of the supporting characters are essentially interchangeable. Some of the scenes and situations do stand out as better than the rest of the novel in general, but I think that if you're looking for interesting 60s sci fi you should go for something by Philip K. Dick, maybe or Martian Time Slip or A Scanner Darkly.

No comments: