STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein.
This is one mixed bag of a book. I mean, I grok it but that doesn't mean I think it's groovy, man.
("Grok" is one of the words created in this book that became part of American culture. It's been that influential.)
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND is part satire, part science fiction, and part sermon for "free love."
was published at the start of the hippie era, and became enormously
successful in the "counter-culture" of the 1960s. It even inspired the
creation of a religious cult (whose name "The Church of All Worlds" was
lifted directly from the novel).
There are parts of it I like:
the satire of organized religion; the willingness to provoke, and that
the author isn't fettered by stale genre conventions.
And then there are things that make me groan and wish the editor had been stricter - a lot stricter:
The character Jubal Harshaw. He's a colossal bore who is allowed to
lecture, hector, preach, and harangue far too much and for far too long.
For a book that preaches "free love," it seems curiously uninterested
in what women might want out of that lifestyle (apart from pleasing men,
and getting pregnant).
3) The "sex" part of the book can get
really embarrassing. As in "Old man tries to be 'hip' but the old
attitudes bubble up to the surface." (For example, look up that passage
where rape victims get the blame.)
4) The book gets seriously
ugly when the Messianic protagonist starts casually killing people who
get in his way - and his friends don't react with horror and revulsion.
He's actually a psychopath.
Read it as a curiosity, but not as a great work of literature - it isn't.
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