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Stranger in a Strange Land

Critique • Quotes

Stranger in a Strange Land, first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication
1961; restored version 1990

Literature form

Science fiction

Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 160,000 words; restored 1990 version: approx. 220,000 words

Notable lines

Once upon a time when the world was young there was a Martian named Smith.  Valentine Michael Smith was as real as taxes but he was a race of one.

— First lines

All men, gods, and planets in this story are imaginary. Any coincidence of names is regretted.


There was so much to grok, so little to grok from.


"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh."


"I've never understood how God could expect his creatures to pick the one true religion by fait —it strikes me as a sloppy way to run a universe."


"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."


Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist—a master—and that is what Auguste Rodin was—can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is...and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be...and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her matter what the merciless hours have done to her.


The slickest way in the world to lie is to tell the right amount of truth at the right time—and then shut up.


"Certainly 'Thou art God'—but who isn't?"


He left, and Mike pushed back his halo and got to work. He could see a lot of changes he wanted to make—.

— Last lines


Critique • Quotes