It’s a classic! So I’m told. The boy in me likes to climb up out from under the covers once a year or so to nix another seminal sci-fi classic off the list of Things To Read Before I Die. Usually – I’m being honest here – I’m a little disappointed. But dagnabbit! this one seemed to have potential.
First of all, there’s the movie. I rather enjoyed Paul Verhoeven’s cheese-ball-o-fun from 1997. Lit up with the sparky charisma of thespian Denise “Wildthing” Richards, this little romp through the bug-infested universe proved to be worthy of every one of it’s direct-to-dvd sequels.
Secondly, there’s that 5-syllable word plastered all over every pulpy paperback reprint of the thing: Controversial! That’s it! Money on the barrel, baby! I’m sold!
And now I know what the fuss was all about: It seems that Mr. Heinlein decided to write in the Randian tradition, heavy-handedly dictating the tenets of the ideal republic while fantasizing about what he’d a-done if he was lucky enough to storm the South Pacific with the doughboys of the big one.
Fine by me. It’s his book after all, and if he has a few grudges to grind against the axe of postwar America he should feel free. And so it was that the man was branded a fascist for his futuristic fancy of a benevolent military-led limited democracy and it’s get-your-ass-in-gear final solution to all of the 20th century’s ills.
However, I’m intrigued enough by Heinlein to dig out a copy of Stranger In A Strange Land. Turns out that his depiction of a do-as-you-please Martian civilization spawned not only a cult following but an actual cult of free-lovin’ longhairs in the 1960s.
I have a feeling people take this guy way too seriously.