Ahoy there mateys! Not so long ago I read Heinlein’s stranger in a strange land. It was me first “adult” Heinlein novel and it made me rant and get grumpy. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to read a Heinlein again. But back in the day, I had read his “juveniles” and had fuzzy memories of loving them. Part of what I love about readin’ is re-visitin’ old friends, so when I needed another audiobook I decided take a second look at this previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin’ it again . . .
The takeaway from this read is how I can still like a book almost as much but for completely different reasons. On me earlier read over twenty five (huh!?!) years ago, I adored the technology around the spacesuit and all of the techno-babble around fixing the suit. On this read, I was not really interested in the suit itself or the space aspects but rather entertained by the soap contest and Kip’s silly humor and his relationships with his parents and with Peewee. I had loved the Mother-Thing on the first read. This time she was kinda boring and I was much happier reading about the Wormfaces and intergalactic legal systems.
The highlight of this book was the narrator, Mark Turetsky, who seemed like a one-man radio play. He managed to capture the silliness while adding depth and avoiding campiness. I loved listening to him. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed this as much without him.
I was surprised at how much better this book was in terms of misogyny than stranger in a strange land. I thought it was lovely that the main side character was an eleven year old girl genius. I loved the relationship that Kip and Peewee had. I have been told that Heinlein’s later works more closely aligned with his personal viewpoints than the juveniles did and that as he got older his editors had less control over his work. I am not sure how much truth there is to that but the differences between the two eras of writing were fairly stark. I mean I know Kip’s mom seemed like a standard housewife and background character but there were strong female characters in this.
I guess what I be saying is that I be willing to give the other famous adult Heinlein, the moon is a harsh mistress, a chance. I still maintain that stranger in a strange land is crap. But maybe I will find something worthy in his other works. Arrrrr!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
From the mind of the storyteller who has captured the imagination of readers from around the world and across generations comes this classic work of science fiction.
First prize in the Skyway Soap slogan contest was an all-expenses paid trip to the moon. The consolation prize was an authentic space suit, and when scientifically minded high school senior Kip Russell won it, he knew for certain he would use it one day to make a sojourn of his own to the stars. But “one day” comes sooner than he thinks when he tries the suit on in his backyard – and finds himself worlds away, a prisoner aboard a space pirate’s ship. The whole thing seems like a bad dream until he discovers he’s not the only prisoner on board. Kip – along with the daughter of a world-renowned scientist and a beautiful creature from another planet – has been kidnapped by a monstrous extraterrestrial, and they are heading straight for what could be Kip’s final destination.
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