Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein I enjoyed large parts of this funny, interesting, quite prescient portrait of an "alien" who comes to earth and acclimates to human culture. I felt that it was a work of an agile, delving mind - one that playfully enjoys the possibilities of futuristic scenarios, enjoys surprising the reader with his avenues of pursuit. The only problem was that the book winds up down a set of avenues that didn't particularly interest me. Perhaps in 1963, my mind would have been sufficiently blown by the implications that Mike presents to his friends and followers. But in 2013, it feels a bit like dated 60s communal living.

The book, while avoiding formulaic devices (except at the end with it's obvious Christian symbolism) lacks a cohesive plot and structure, which I see as a big issue. It introduces new and important characters throughout, abandoning other characters. It has a bit of unnecessary "heavenly" perspective, for whatever reason. It doesn't feel well edited or well planned. It instead seems like something interesting, spastic, sprawling. But those ideas, along with the wonderfully endearing character of Jubal Harshaw, help to keep the reader engaged, even as the book loses its momentum through its last third. It almost feels like two books, as if Heinlein put down the narrative for a time and then took it up again and added to it, somewhere after the meeting with Douglas.

Regardless, there is no doubt that SIASL is a classic work of science fiction.