As the cover informs me, this is "The most famous science fiction novel ever written". Well, I am no expert for science fiction literature, but I wouldn’t go this far. And even if it is the most famous sci-fi novel ever written, it certainly is not the best.
First of all, I disliked this initial will-they-won’t-they relationship between Jill and Ben so much, because it felt completely out of place and rather irrelevant (which it turned out to be, surprise), although I did like Jill from the very beginning. Secondly, Heinlein is bringing in a bunch of new characters in every new part of the book whom I personally didn’t care much about, could only distinguish from each other to a certain degree (until the very end) and who replace the well established characters as protagonists. Then in the third part, he finally starts to focus on the Man from Mars, letting the former main characters like Ben or Harshaw fall into almost complete oblivion. Also, while focusing more and more on Mike, Jill gets so incredibly one dimensional and stereotypical, that it was hard to bear at some points and last, but not least, the lack of storytelling quality became painfully apparent as the book carried on.
Starting from chapter three, the rest of the book basically becomes a treatise on sex and orgies – from a male and VERY heterosexual point of view – this goes as far as Ben, running out of a building, naked and in full panick mode, just because Mike tried to touch him while he was making out with Jill on the sofa or Harshaw explicitly stating (more than once) that being gay is without any doubt "a wrongness" for men, yet while being a lesbian is also wrong, it is somehow less wrong and therefore tolerable.
And if all of the above wouldn’t be bad enough on their own, the dialogues are so badly written, it hurt. They are not just stylistically bad, but most of the time they consist of nothing but tough talk, without anybody taking action or doing even a fraction of what they were saying for the last four pages (this especially concerns the character of Jubal Harshaw). I was not expecting high class literature when I picked up Stranger in a Strange Land, but the only other instance I can remember when I encountered dialogues written this bad was while watching The Expendables.
The last thing, that probably bothered me the most was the sexism. Sexism in the 60's was obviously an everyday thing and let us all take a moment to be thankful that what was considered "normal" fifty years ago would nowadays involve a nasty lawsuit. I could give you countless examples of passages that not only annoyed, but seriously upset or disgusted me, but I posted some of them here already and this review is getting way too long as it is.
I really tried to get into the story, but this book simply didn’t work for me, although the basic underlying problem of human expansion and exploitation (be it other countries or other planets) as well as the human ignorance when it comes to different believes, societies or species would be a super interesting topic to explore (not to mention the abuse of power and the government trying to produce a doppelgänger, putting out fake news and covering up their actions), but I don’t think that this was Heinleins goal. To be honest, I am not quite sure of what Heinlein wanted to get across here. Love thy neighbour, maybe?