There are a couple of “old business” items I keep forgetting to post on, so I’m going to get those out of the way before I get to the main subject I wanted to discuss today. First, a couple weeks ago I got my royalty statement from Hasbro that covers the first quarter of sales for RotD2 and MoP. All the anthology contributors got a nice surprise, and Maiden is lagging only a little behind RotD2 in sales. Considering the anthology was out a month longer, I’m very pleased. Hopefully, I’ll have made back the advance by the end of this quarter.
In other WotC news, Ed Gentry and Jaleigh Johnson both announced they will be writing a novel in the upcoming Citadels and Dungeons series, respectively. Congrats, you two.
We went camping this past weekend. For me, camping is a great way to vacation, especially car-camping. “Car-camping” is where you can drive right up to the campsite. It allows for a lot more luxuries than backpacking.
One of those luxuries is time, and perhaps that is what I like about camping as a vacation. There is plenty of downtime. Friday morning, after eating breakfast, I lounged around the campsite and finished up Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
I’ve decided to take advantage of the local library system in an effort to read some of the genre classics I missed growing up. Stranger was my first outing.
I was vaguely familiar with the plot prior to reading the book. I quickly realized it was nothing like I expected, and while there were certainly moments in the story that I enjoyed, my overall experience was one of disappointment.
Stranger was less a story for me and more of a lecture. I felt like I was being preached at. Heinlein’s message of humanism, sprinkled with a “free love” theme and some rants against organized western religions, were overtly conveyed through the dialogue of various characters. And there was a lot of dialogue.
As a disclaimer, I should add that I read the “uncut” version of the book, which included about 50,000 words that were not part of the originally released novel.
I also felt that the growth of the title character was a bit unsatisfying. Valentine Michael Smith was a human born and raised on Mars by Martians. He had no contact with humans until he was a man and was brought back to Earth. Most of the story of his initial adaptation was told from the POV of characters native to Earth, and I never really got a feel for how alien it must be to Smith.
Instead, I got a lot of exposition on how the native characters thought different institutions and customs would affect Smith. And I could hear Heinlein behind them.
About halfway through the story, Smith suddenly “groks” humanity and instantly becomes a superman. Earlier, it was revealed the Smith had certain “powers” due to his Martian upbringing, but his naivety and innocence acted as a restraint against his use of them in Earth society. That restraint was no longer present now that he was mature, and neither was there any suspense or doubt over whether or not Smith had any control over the events he was involved in. Every twist and turn ended up being something Smith either foresaw or manipulated to achieve his end. “Thou art God” truly did apply in his case.
Next on my reading list is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I’ll share my thoughts on that one as well.