Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stranger in a Strange Land

I enjoyed the first half of Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land very much. The latter half not so much.

I was alienated from the text by ruminations on the part of the character of Jill regarding homosexuality and also about rape, which were within a paragraph of each other: something to the effect that nine out of ten female victims brought it on themselves and ... oh I can't be bothered with explaining the other right now. Both of which rather stuck in my craw.

I wasn't sure whether Jill was speaking for Heinlein or whether she was simply a foil for the more open-minded and progressive characters. As the story continued she became less parochial in her attitudes, although I'm still pretty uncomfortable about those parts of the text. It is much clearer when Jubal speaks that he is a mouthpiece for Heinlein. The depiction of women in the book had some elements I liked: they were resourceful and strong-minded. But they were still secretaries, nurses and acolytes, submissive to men rather than independent.

Still it is a very interesting work, plenty to get your teeth into what with the take on religion, agnosticism and sexual mores. Lots to be annoyed and intrigued by in equal measure.

I shall re-read at some point.

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