IF YOU THINK that this book appears to be thicker and contain more words than you found in the first published edition of Stranger in a Strange Land, your observation is correct. This edition is the original one - the way Robert Heinlein first conceived it, and put it down on paper.

The earlier edition contained a few words over 160,000, while this one runs around 220,000 words. Robert's manuscript copy usually contained about 250 to 300 words per page, depending on the amount of dialogue on the pages. So, taking an average of about 275 words, with the manuscript running 800 pages, we get a total of 220,000 words, perhaps a bit more.

This book was so different from what was being sold to the general public, or to the science fiction reading public in 1961 when it was published, that the editors required some cutting and removal of a few scenes that might then have been offensive to public taste.

The November 1948 issue of Astounding Science Fiction contained a letter to the editor suggesting titles for the issue of a year hence. Among the titles was to be a story by Robert A. Heinlein - 'Gulf.'

In a long conversation between that editor, John W. Campbell, Jr., and Robert, it was decided that there would be sufficient lead time to allow all the stories that the fan had titled to be written, and the magazine to come out in time for the November 1949 date. Robert promised to deliver a short story to go with the title. Most of the other authors also went along with the gag. This issue came to be known as the 'Time Travel' issue.

Robert's problem, then, was to find a story to fit the title assigned to him.

So we held a 'brainstorming' session. Among other unsuitable notions, I suggested a story about a human infant, raised by an alien race. The idea was just too big for a short story, Robert said, but he made a note about it. That night he went into his study, and wrote some lengthy notes, and set them aside.

For the title 'Gulf' he wrote quite a different story.

The notes sat in a file for several years, at which time Robert began to write what was to be Stranger in a Strange Land. Somehow, the story didn't quite jell, and he set it aside. He returned to the manuscript a few times, but it was not finished until 1960: this was the version you now hold in your hands.

In the context of 1960, Stranger in a Strange Land was a book that his publishers feared - it was too far off the beaten path. So, in order to minimize possible losses, Robert was asked to cut the manuscript down to 150,000 words - a loss of about 70,000 words. Other changes were also requested, before the editor was willing to take a chance on publication.

To take out about a quarter of a long, complicated book was close to an impossible task. But, over the course of some months, Robert accomplished it. The final word count came out at 160,087 words. Robert was convinced that it was impossible to cut out any more, and the book was accepted at that length.

For 28 years it remained in print in that form.

In 1976, Congress passed a new Copyright Law, which said, in part, that in the event an author died, and the widow or widower renewed the copyright, all old contracts were cancelled. Robert died in 1988, and the following year the copyright for Stranger in a Strange Land came up for renewal.

Unlike many other authors, Robert had kept a copy of the original typescript, as submitted for publication, on file at the library of the University of California at Santa Cruz, his archivists. I asked for a copy of that manuscript, and read that and the published versions side by side. And I came to the conclusion that it had been a mistake to cut the book.

So I sent a copy of the typescript to Eleanor Wood, Robert's agent. Eleanor also read the two versions together, and agreed with my verdict. So, after the notification to the publisher, she presented them with a copy of the new/old version.

No one remembered the fact that such drastic cutting had been done on this book; over the course of years all the editors and senior officers at the publishing house had changed. So this version was a complete surprise to them.

They decided to publish the original version, agreeing that it was better than the cut one.

You now have in your hands the original version of Stranger in a Strange Land, as written by Robert Anson Heinlein.

The given names of the chief characters have great importance to the plot. They were carefully selected: Jubal means 'the father of all,' Michael stands for 'Who is like God?' I leave it for the reader to find out what the other names mean. - Virginia Heinlein Carmel, California



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.

The first human expedition from Terra to Mars was selected on the theory that the greatest danger to man in space was man himself. At that time, only eight Terran years after the founding of the first human colony on Luna, any interplanetary trip made by humans necessarily had to be made in weary free-fall orbits, doubly tangent semi- ellipses - from Terra to Mars, two hundred fifty-eight days, the same for the return journey, plus four hundred fifty- five days waiting at Mars while the two planets crawled slowly back into relative positions which would permit shaping the doubly-tangent orbit - a total of almost three Earth years.

Besides its wearing length, the trip was very chancy. Only by refueling at a space station, then tacking back almost into Earth's atmosphere, could this primitive flying coffin, the Envoy, make the trip at all. Once at Mars she might be able to return - if she did not crash in landing, if water could be found on Man to fill her reaction-mass tanks, if some sort of food could be found on Mars, if a thousand other things did not go wrong.

But the physical danger was judged to be less important than the psychological stresses. Eight humans, crowded together like monkeys for almost three Terran years, had better get along much better than humans usually did. An all-male crew had been vetoed as unhealthy and socially unstable from lessons learned earlier. A ship's company of four married couples had been decided on as optimum, if the necessary specialties could be found in such a combination.

The University of Edinburgh, prime contractor, sub-contracted crew selection to the Institute for Social Studies. After discarding the chaff of volunteers useless through age, health, mentality, training, or temperament, the Institute still had over nine thousand candidates to work from, each sound in mind and body and having at least one of the necessary special skills. It was expected that the Institute would report several acceptable four-couple crews.

No such crew was found. The major skills needed were astrogator, medical doctor, cook, machinist, ship's commander, semantician, chemical engineer, electronics engineer, physicist, geologist, biochemist, biologist, atomics engineer, photographer, hydroponicist, rocket engineer. Each crew member would have to possess more than one skill, or be able to acquire extra skills in time. There were hundreds of possible combinations of eight people possessing these skills; there turned up three combinations of four married couples possessing them, plus health and intelligence - but in all three cases the group-dynamicists who evaluated the temperament factors for compatibility threw up their hands in horror.

The prime contractor suggested lowering the compatibility figure-of-merit; the Institute stiffly offered to return its one dollar fee. In the meantime a computer programmer whose name was not recorded had the machines hunt for three-couple rump crews. She found several dozen compatible combinations, each of which defined by its own characteristics the couple needed to complete it. In the meantime the machines continued to review the data changing through deaths, withdrawals, new volunteers, etc.

Captain Michael Brunt, M.S., Cmdr. D. F. Reserve, pilot (unlimited license), and veteran at thirty of the Moon run, seems to have had an inside track at the Institute, someone who was willing to look up for him the names of single female volunteers who might (with him) complete a crew, and then pair his name with these to run trial problems through the machines to determine whether or not a possible combination would be acceptable. This would account for his action in jetting to Australia and proposing marriage to Doctor Winifred Coburn, a horse-faced spinster semantician nine years his senior. The Carlsbad Archives pictured her with an expression of quiet good humor but otherwise lacking in attractiveness.

Or Brant may have acted without inside information, solely through that trait of intuitive audacity necessary to

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