Oops in the First Degree

David Klaus comments, “How marvelously ignorant of how Stranger in a Strange Land came to be written is The Guardian’s reviewer.” Sam Jordison wrote:

Just two years after producing Starship Troopers, a book beloved of right wing militarists everywhere, Robert Heinlein came up with Stranger in a Strange Land, in which guns are seen as “a great wrongness”, personal and sexual liberation a “goodness”, monotheistic religion no better than a carnival trick and making money an absurd diversion from the real business of life.

Jordison’s choice of the word “producing” does leave the impression he might be unaware Heinlein took 10 years to complete Stranger. Or that Heinlein interrupted work on Stranger to write Starship Troopers.

On the other hand, it might just be a poor word choice. Brian Doherty’s article “Heinlein at 100” for Reason (Aug/Sept 2007) makes essentially the same observation as Jordison, with the vital difference that Doherty states it more carefully:

Just two years later, he was publishing the counterculture classic Stranger in a Strange Land

“Publishing” accurately focuses on when these two books appeared in the marketplace. Of course, both writers are invoking political stereotypes when they imply that readers of Heinlein’s work in Starship Troopers received a startling (perhaps chilling) surprise from the mores exemplified in Stranger. Is this anything more than internet-era smarminess? Science fiction fans at the time awarded both novels the Hugo – they evidently weren’t shocked and offended by Stranger, as Jordinson and Doherty might be suggesting.