Originally Posted by DrNefario
Well, I finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. "The most famous SF novel of all time" according to its cover.
I must say I didn't think much of it. Indeed, for about 50 pages, two-thirds of the way in, I thought it was the worst book I'd ever read.
Like a lot of Heinlein, it is opinionated and self-satisfied, but unlike his shorter works, it lacks a decent story. The female "characters" are a joke, and the final sections seem to be an extended sexual fantasy of a kind that does nothing for me.
If anyone can begin to explain why this is so well-regarded, I'd like to hear it.
I should maybe say I read the original cut - the one that actually won the Hugo - and not the newer, longer edition, and on this evidence I can only be relieved.
I very much enjoy the early Heinlein novels. Double Star
and The Door Into Summer
are both very fine. The group of YA novels are quite enjoyable and of them, Starman Jones, The Star Beast, Time for the Stars, Citizen of the Galaxy
, and Have Spacesuit--Will Travel
are rightly considered by the Science Fiction Encyclopedia
as "arguably his finest works". The same article makes the point that middle and late Heinlein shows a "sad decline" in his powers of dramatisation. I would agree that his female characters are unbelievable and silly altogether too often in his later work. I started The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
hoping for something interesting and IMHO it was a complete flop.
As to why Stranger in a Strange Land
is seen as a major science-fiction work--well it's a complete mystery to me.