Stranger In A Strange Land: Library Edition

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9780786185948: Stranger In A Strange Land: Library Edition
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Stranger in a Strange Land is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with ''psi'' powers -- telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others -- and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.

After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a kind of messiah. His exceptional abilities lead Valentine to become many things to many people: freak, scam artist, media commodity, searcher, free-love pioneer, neon evangelist, and martyr.

Heinlein won his second Hugo Award for this novel, sometimes called his ''divine comedy'' and often called his masterpiece. This Blackstone audiobook is the ''as published'' version, read from an Ace paperback published in 1987. It is not the uncut, uncensored version that Heinlein originally wrote but which wasn't published until 1991.

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Review:

Stranger in a Strange Land, winner of the 1962 Hugo Award, is the story of Valentine Michael Smith, born during, and the only survivor of, the first manned mission to Mars. Michael is raised by Martians, and he arrives on Earth as a true innocent: he has never seen a woman and has no knowledge of Earth's cultures or religions. But he brings turmoil with him, as he is the legal heir to an enormous financial empire, not to mention de facto owner of the planet Mars. With the irascible popular author Jubal Harshaw to protect him, Michael explores human morality and the meanings of love. He founds his own church, preaching free love and disseminating the psychic talents taught him by the Martians. Ultimately, he confronts the fate reserved for all messiahs.

The impact of Stranger in a Strange Land was considerable, leading many children of the 60's to set up households based on Michael's water-brother nests. Heinlein loved to pontificate through the mouths of his characters, so modern readers must be willing to overlook the occasional sour note ("Nine times out of ten, if a girl gets raped, it's partly her fault."). That aside, Stranger in a Strange Land is one of the master's best entertainments, provocative as he always loved to be. Can you grok it? --Brooks Peck

About the Author:

ROBERT ANSON HEINLEIN (1907 -1988) was born in Missouri. He served five years in the U.S. Navy, then attended graduate classes in mathematics and physics at UCLA, took a variety of jobs, and owned a silver mine before beginning to write science fiction in 1939. His novels have won the Hugo Award, and in 1975 he received the first Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement.

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