I've had Stranger in a Strange Land on my bookshelf for nearly 5 years now. I have always wanted to read it, partly because I borrowed it from a friend and knew I should eventually give it back, and partly because it looked interesting. So what has kept me from actually starting it? Probably the fact that everyone I've asked about it says the same thing: "It starts of great, but then it gets really weird."
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy weird. Weird books are often some of the most fun. Still, it was enough of a deterrent to keep it from ever moving it to the top of my never empty backlog of books.
So now that I have read it, what's the verdict? They were exactly right. Stranger in a Strange Land starts off excellent. Unfortunately, this great start makes the second half that much harder to read. There's a reason this book took me so long to read (nearly 3 weeks): the last half is just a pain to slog through.
The story of Stranger centers around Valentine Michael Smith - a human born on mars and raised by Martians who gets brought back to Earth where he struggles to deal with his own foreignness in what should be his home. Cool idea, right? And it is, and when there's actually a plot happening (during the first half of the book) it's superbly entertaining. Unfortunately, by the end it devolves into nothing more than a soapbox for Heinlein's ideas on sexual liberation.
I hate to say it, but I would not recommend this book. There is one caveat, however. If you can read just the first two parts, and not bother with the rest, there are a lot of interesting ideas, strong writing, and fascinating characters. If you are like me, however, and hate to quit reading a book you start (especially one that starts so good) then don't bother picking this one up.
"I don’t pay attention to politics."
"You should. It’s barely less important than your own heart beat."
"I don’t pay attention to that either" (33).