Just finished reading Stranger in a Strange Land which if I’m honest I found to be quite strange book. Then again if you put it in context and remember when it was written it would seem like a prelude to the free love of the sixties.
The story is about the journey an orphan human boy from Mars takes as he learns to be human and then how to change humanity for the better using what he learned on Mars.
As well as being a strange book it is also in places quite exceptional and fascinating. It is a shame in a strange way that we have not moved on from the ideas that might have developed from the book published in 1961 about free love, peace, end of war, removal of hatred and anger. Instead we have moved backwards towards a greedier, selfish, insular world full of fundamentalist, extremist attitudes; which is highlighted at the beginning of the book.
I’m not saying all of the ideas in Strange Land are good, as well as love and peace I bet it had a small hand in the awful cults that formed as well. The ideas of sex and nudity might shock a few conservative minds.
Obviously the book is a sci-fi classic but it also ideological and philosophical, sometimes over mixing the genres, and other times blending them perfectly.
The book can now be seen as a little prophetic when the main character is discussing whether most of the human race is ready to live a life without anger, hatred, with control, peace and love. And he suggests it may never be ready, which clearly we are not. It is also anti-prophetic if that is a word to describe it because after he is brutally slaughtered and turned into a martyr; the author leaves us with the idea that it is possible, even if it probably isn’t.
Unfortunately we do not live in a sci-fi, ideological, philosophical world, we do not have wise Martians to teach us about the harm we cause ourselves, and we certainly cannot teleport using our minds, or connect with communal mentality. Still I loved the book and would love to see how they would make it into a film. Ironically, the problem is the story is a little too liberal, too full of sex and too full of nudity, for the mainstream US audience of today, and that is where most films about US books are made.
It would be nice to see someone attempt it one day, it may get more people to read it and to try to understand the message it is getting across. That is if the message it is trying to get across is the one I discovered from reading it.