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Stranger in a Strange Land

by Rob Friesel

Stranger in a Strange LandIn lieu of a review of Stranger in a Strange Land (because what would be the point?), a few notes intead:

(1) I can see why it’s considered a science fiction classic. On an intellectual level, I “get” that part. Hence getting shelved as “important”. Creating a character and a milieu and a plot to lampoon all of our socio-cultural conventions? Even cannibalism? Brilliant! But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

(2) How did this book get lauded and praised as the “bible” of the counter-culture/sexual revolution? Heinlein’s narrative stilts toward homophobic and what was up with the line (from Jill!) re: “nine times out of ten if a woman gets raped, it’s her fault”? Terrible.

(3) Just like I couldn’t stand what Melville did with Billy Budd, I couldn’t stand the “Christ-figure” thing that Heinlein did with M. V. Smith either. I feel like there’s this impulse in Western literature to write a Christ-figure into your story. And I think that there’s this impulse on the part of critics to just orgasm all over themselves to praise it when an author does it. But this never seems to add anything to the narrative — it always just comes across as heavy-handed and abusive. Stop it.

A version of this review appears on

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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