Get Your Free Audiobook

Non-member price: $26.53

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

Epic, entertaining, blasphemous, this is the most influential and controversial of Science Fiction novels.

Stranger in a Strange Land caused uproar when it was first published as it savaged conventional religious, sexual, and social ideals. Many years in the future, Valentine Michael Smith's upbringing is exceptional. Orphan child to two astronauts killed in space, he is raised on Mars. Twenty-five years later he is "rescued" and brought back to Earth. The initial enthusiasm of the administration in Smith's safe return is soon dampened by the realisation that they cannot control him. Possessed with superhuman skills and a unique philosophy he threatens their society - Smith must be contained.

Then a nurse helps him escape his hospital jail. Their flight becomes a journey of discovery, enlightenment and wonder. But danger is following fast behind, and there will be no escape from the final confrontation.

©1961 Robert A. Heinlein (P)2012 Hodder & Stoughton

What listeners say about Stranger in a Strange Land

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    59
  • 4 Stars
    33
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    36
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    57
  • 4 Stars
    26
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Bloated, Self-Indulgent Waffle saved only in part by great narration

I am a Sci-Fi fan, and thought I was a fan of Heinlein, until listening to this audiobook. Perhaps the abridged version (I'm starting to believe abridged = better editing), might have offered a better narrative, because this unabridged version is bloated and full of trivial dialogue (ie excuse for Author to insert his own detailed opinions on everything under the sun - sex, religion, politics, the law - just to name a few). It starts strongly, but then just meanders everywhere and ends with a sputtering weak gasp of a closure. It's internal logic is massively broken - how does the world lose interest so quickly in mars, the martians and the man from mars? The characters seem to be obsessed with teaching Mike about all the things he needs to do to integrate into humanity, rather than bombarding him with the million questions one would expect when offered an insight into a far more powerful alien species. It's almost like it was written by someone having a colonialist wet dream - look how I domesticate this savage I have brought back from the New World. Isn't he quaint with such quaint ways. Even after Mike proves he has telekinetic powers, his mentors seem more interested in making sure his social graces are improved than any deeper scientific understanding.
The only thing that saved this from getting five raspberries from me - was the top narration from Martin McDougall. I am going to keep my eye out for his narration in future.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Sexism and racism throughout.

The sexism and racism throughout this book made it very difficult to listen to. The storyline itself was okay though.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Just ..... No !

It's been 35 years since I've last read this story. Being a huge Heinlein fan as a teen, I was keen to rediscover the stories and science fiction of my youth.

Oh how wrong a choice that was. Such a long winded narrative that dragged on and on and missed creative opportunities to just preach over and over the whole sixties free love philosophies. It wouldn't have been so bad if not for the downright dated aspects of sexism that I had to endure throughout. I'm a guy, and I was just appalled at the narrow minded disrespect given to female characters. They were there for just two things. To look good and to have sex. And let's try to forget his outright 'rape' comment in the text saying that women deserved it. My respect of this author has been shattered.

I've just finished reading Arthur Conon Doyle and although written decades before this book, still manages to have more modern intentions than anything in this current book of 'Stranger'.

The narrator does a great job, but it feels as if even he doesn't like reading the misogyny that drips from every page.

Glad it's over.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

My first Heinlein book. Blown away

Incredible writer, brilliant story and lots of deep insights into philosophy, human nature, ethics, morality and more.
The author was fantastic also

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Truly a classic

I have read the paperback version of this book many times and I always get something new from it. It is not my favourite Heinlein novel - "The Moon is a harsh mistress" is. However, "Stranger in a strange land" has a lot going for it. Although some of the technology has been overtaken by current events, it rises some important social questions and Heinlein easily switches from right-wing to left wing ideas. Some of the dialogue is a bit clunky, but overall well written Well worth a listen, if you remember that it was written in 1961.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The search for belonging

This is the first Heinlein book I have read (or more precisely have had read to me). This is of slight embarrassment for someone who would loudly and proudly proclaim themselves a committed fan of Science Fiction at every opportunity. I chose this book simply because it was a title quoted as one of his more notable works and because the name intrigued me. Early on it quickly became apparent that Heinlein has some very clear and strong views about humanity, both good and bad. I was slightly put-off by the amount of rhetoric attached to the story, from the pov that it often felt like the dialogue between characters were set up as convenient bookends upon which to espouse his views. That said, I found his observations as striking as they were intelligent. I kind of had to forgive the slightly lecture-like nature of the story-telling because he had so many interesting things to say. While the Story itself was fairly pedestrian, the examination of humanity itself kept me engaged right up until the end, at which point it switched into high-gear, delivering a visceral knockout blow that felt only more powerful because of the slow-burn that got me to that point. When all was said and done, I was really glad I had finally chosen to visit some of his work. He is indeed a master author and story teller, and I look forward to visiting more of his work in the future. ps. My title for this review reflects a small but lingering feeling I have always carried of being a stranger in a strange land. Sadly you don't have to be from Mars to feel that you are visiting a culture you struggle to fully understand or be understood by.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Creative

Very creative story. I do no regret listening.

There are moments of sexism and homophobia but also I feel like it could be argued the reader is (slightly) encouraged to question this narrative through Mike.

Not a satisfying ending.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not for me

Cool story and a nice view of 1960s america (albeit sexist view of women) ruined by lots of pointless conversations about people "grokking" things.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tim
  • 11-01-2018

Low grade

This is the lowest kind of sci fi. Limited insight, no real characters and extended preaching about the authors own moral perspective.

Avoid.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

hard going

Struggled to finish. Disliked subordinate female characters. Very dated attitudes. I do not reccomend this book

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Paul McMahon
  • Paul McMahon
  • 12-06-2014

Still relevant

Worryingly many of the threads of the book are still relevant today; of course, not all. It is remarkable how many things writers of that time, it was published in 1961, got predictions right - video phoning, mobile phones in cars, etc. But some of his notions are really out of date; his writing of women characters is very much the thinking of the 50s; although I can see him struggle with modern concepts of their place in changing times.

The reader does a good job with a long book. Sometimes the voices lose distinction and it is momentarily hard to work out who is speaking, but that is a minor issue. More difficult is the he uses whispering to indicate some of the "speech" which makes the dialogue un-hearable; good intentions, but doesn't work with an audiobook.

Some parts can drag on ... mainly because their novelty at the time doesn't translate to our modern times, but it's worth persevering. The original draft was 220,000 words, published in 1991, but the editors got him to cut it down to 160,067 words, 1961. I'm not sure which version this is. Received the Hugo Award for Best Novel (Wikipedia).

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 25-11-2019

Good goes weird

I loved the moon is a harsh mistress and troopers, but this just takes an interesting concept and deraiils it by going on long after the climax into a weird religious direction.
Performance was incredible!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for RTE Williamson
  • RTE Williamson
  • 02-08-2019

An "uncanny valley" of fiction

Firstly, I read this book when i was an early teen. I read a lot of Heinlein around that time.
I think SIASL deserved its Hugo award in 1962 and deserves to be treated as a key item of Sci Fi.
For me it is not so old and crusty and distant that i can forgive/cope with the aspects of story that have not aged well in 50 years.
If the book was deliberately provocative then it worked.
The trouble is that after 50 years it only half works. I expect it worked better in the 60's and may work better in an 100 years. I detect some sort of temporal uncanny valley thing going on.

I still like the parts of the critique of organised and politically powerful religion and the critique of the prudish part of US culture.
On the other hand the gender roles just don't scan well anymore and i suspect they were borderline even in the 60's. Big chunks of dialog between gendered characters just grate in 2019.

The narration works. I imagine this was a marathon effort for Martin McDougall.

In summary, I figured this would be an interesting experiment after 50 years. It was.

Maybe people should treat this as a literary cod liver oil. Listen despite the odd taste it leaves

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 29-03-2019

Exceptional

This is my new favourite book, an insightful journey through human interactions read by a talented narrator.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Simon
  • Simon
  • 31-08-2015

A point in time

This is one of those seminal classics which deserves every respect. I understand it was included in a Library of Congress exhibition of "Books That Shaped America" so it's not to be taken lightly by any measure.

It will still divide opinions today in terms of its value and much will depend on your stance on political correctness. Me, I loved the early expressions of some of the free-thinking and libertarian views and the joyous disrespect for a lot of society's norms. I may not agreed with it all but it was good to be free of some of today's shackles on such opinions.

However, after a while it seemed to me that the author was taking it too far to be a genuinely credible attempt at social commentary. Jubal Harshaw, the main instrument for expressing these opinions went from being something of an inspirational character to something of a bore over the course of the piece.

In fact, someone like myself would probably actually benefit from something I normally avoid like the plague . . . an abridged version! (Just don't tell anyone I said that!) This is because the concept and characters are strong and I warmed to them but in an effort to be an epic it just went on too long for me and there was too much of the narrative that didn't move the story forwards in any real way or add much new to the social commentary.

It's probably one of those books you have to read and I always think that a book that divides opinion like this probably has something going for it. Especially as it continues to do so more half a century since its publication.

So, I have genuine admiration for Heinlein and his creation, it was just too long-winded in parts and a bit over the top so overall these things detracted from my enjoyment of it. I'm glad I read it but I won't be hurrying back to go through it again!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for M. Harfield
  • M. Harfield
  • 21-10-2018

Excellent exploration of ideas let down by a poor

This book is a fascinating discussion of ideas. The author uses the narrative mechanism of a Man From Mars to explore the concepts of religion, laws, society and morals. Some ideas in some areas have moved on since the book was written but most remain relevant and some, indeed, have become more so. Having read this book I will almost guarantee you will think about things differently or at least in more depth. On this basis I would happily recommend reading this book.

What I can't recommend is listening to this recording. The reading is the worst of any audiobook I have listened to so far (which is more than 20) by a margin. The reader only does one voice. This is a book made up of numerous conversations. If you cannot readily spot when the speaker changes it makes it hard sometimes to follow what is going on. To make matters worst, that one voice is strident and confrontational. With this reader all people bark out what they are saying. Even if he starts a female voice with a softer tone, it doesn't last long (although most of the long conversations are between male characters and so it is of limited help).

In places the reader doesn't even understand the text. A trivial example (but far from the only one), when talking about the navy hospital in Washington growing in size he reads 'by [then] it was still larger' in the manner of 'it remains larger' rather than 'it had continued to grow larger'.

I would recommend the book to anyone exploring the ideas that form our society. I cannot recommend the reading however.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Toadjuggler
  • Toadjuggler
  • 09-08-2020

Great book, lousy narration.

I shouldn't have to review "Stranger....", it's a classic, Mr Heinlein's most philosophic and sophisticated works, a joy to read. Shame that Mr McDougal is an uncultured oaf who obviously doesn't get the books at all (and couldn't be bothered to check his pronunciations either).

If you haven't come across this novel before then don't let me put you off, it IS a great novel, very human and very thought provoking, but do keep in mind that the narrator is just not very good. He sounds bored and uninterested, and reads it like it's a pre-war pulp..

Audible, please get a better reading of this work, it is THE scifi classic of the early sixties and a key work for the counter-culture that started and grew through the decade., it deserves a good reader.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr. S. P. Campbell
  • Mr. S. P. Campbell
  • 20-04-2017

Stranger in a strange land

This. Is a classic Heinlein , thought provoking with echoes of modern times. His characterisation of the press is amusingly accurate, even if he could not have guessed the technology at this distance in time. I first read the book some 30+ years ago and the authors cynical views on government ring true especially since Trumps election. He also takes a run at religion and the zealots. With a strong plot it is a thoroughly good story that I heartily recommend.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew Anthony
  • Matthew Anthony
  • 17-06-2015

interesting but a bit pointless

The narration feels dated but the overall story is captivating enough. Filled with philosophy and an odd sort of wisdom. maybe we could all learn something from mike

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jamie Sleeman
  • Jamie Sleeman
  • 08-08-2016

Mixed bag

This is not a particularly well-written book, but it has achieved an iconic status for its ability to make people think. It is pretty damn long and some passages are excruciatingly expository, but if you're into anything "New Age" or consider yourself an alternative thinker, you'll enjoy it.
The big downside is Martin McDougall's narrative performance, which is, quite frankly, one of the worst readings I've ever heard. He has roughly the vocal range of an early-career Arnold Schwarzenegger and will pause in mid-sentence for roughly twice as long as you normally would for the end of one before continuing, which gives a very disjointed and sometimes confusing experience for the listener. Can't believe this guy can make a living doing this job.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mike M.
  • Mike M.
  • 06-12-2014

From and for a bygone time

It's hard to judge a social commentary of a book that is now 53 years old. Some ideas like free love are now dated, and probably won't shock any listener that has watched television in the last 10 years, while the proposed libertarian ideals might resonate with others.

While religion is touched a few times, I would have preferred a harder stance on either side, pro or con, but the listener is left with a weak (by today's standard perhaps) compromise on it.

Even though I'm a fan of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, I can't recommend this book, which I ascribe partially to its age, and partially to my disinterest in the aforementioned topics.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ani101
  • Ani101
  • 26-10-2014

equal to its fame as a defining novel

A superb and imaginative take on the social, political and legal ramifications of colonisation propelled by a narrow cultural perspective

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for CL
  • CL
  • 17-02-2021

Epic - well written & narrated

V enjoyable and thought provoking. Had a big impact on the 60s i guess . One of best books in a while that I’ve listened to.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 28-01-2021

Solid story but uncomfortably problematic

Honestly, I enjoyed the absurd plot. Remimded me of some weird old anime. If you get rid of the sexism, racism, homophones from the self-insert, you'll have a good time with it. The narrator was great. He voiced Juba and Mike really well but I will never get rid of that hilarious moan from that sex scene. I laughed hard at that. Plus, Juba (aka author self-insert) needs to shut up.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.