Today I finally reveal my #1 all time favorite science fiction novel. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. Why did it win? Because it’s the first SciFi novel I ever read. It started me on this wonderful journey, introduced me to this new world that some people call “reading” and thus here I am. For that, Mr. Heinlein, I thank you for writing a novel full of sex, magic, interesting ideas about sex, counterculture, and sexual freedom. It really made an impression on my “innocent” 15 year old mind when I was forced to read it for senior English class (well I had a choice between five different books). I think made the right choice. It’s also a Hugo winner and one of the most well recognized titles in the genre.
Summary: Dated & overly political, this novel is both a product of the early hippie culture and an influence on it. Knowing that, the reader MUST suspend more of themselves as well as some of their own morals and values in order to enjoy this novel. If you can do that, then this is a solid piece of science fiction history.
That’s not quite the glowing review you’d probably have expected from me, eh? The truth is that this book makes #1 largely by favoritism. I’ve read better and more interesting Heinlein novels, and since Heinlein is one of my favorite authors I’ve read almost everything he’s ever written. But this was the first, and it’s stayed #1 ever since.
I encourage you to read it, but I’ll understand if you don’t. If you’re looking for something to hook a young impressionable male in your life on Science Fiction, this might be your ticket. I didn’t read for fun before this novel, but that’s only a sample size of one. I know many people who were turned off of Heinlein because of this novel too.
For those of you wanting a plot summary here you go: A human who is the offspring of a failed colony expedition and raised my Martians is returned to Earth in his late teens. He has learned how to control his mind like the Martians and is seemingly magical to the people of Earth. His alien personality and ideas win over female after female who throw themselves at his naive manhood. He slowly teaches all of his friends, male and female, how to use their minds like he does, and in the end forms a ministry (aka Cult) of the mind that has sexual freedom, individuality and polyamory at it’s core.
This novel is the original source of the terms “Water Brothers” and “Grok.” So, if you’re curious to see what these terms mean in their original context, you’ll need to read this book.