A Stranger in a Strange Land

It was a very pretty problem.

On the third planet Valentine Michael Smith was not concerned with the burning issue on Mars; he had never heard of it. His Martian keeper and his keeper’s water brothers had not mocked him with things he could not grasp. Smith knew of the destruction of the fifth planet and its emotional importance – just as any human school boy learns of Troy and Plymouth Rock, but he had not been exposed to art that he could not grok. His education had been unique, enormously greater than that of his nestlings, enormously less than that of an adult; his keeper and his keeper’s advisers among the Old Ones had taken a large passing interest in seeing just how much and of what sort this nestling alien could learn. The results had taught them more about the potentialities of the human race than that race had yet learned about itself, for Smith had grokked very readily things that no other human being had ever learned.

But just at present Smith was simply enjoying himself with a lightheartedness he had not experienced in many years. He had won a new water brother in Jubal, he had acquired many new friends, he was enjoying delightful new experiences in such kaleidoscopic quantity that he had no time to grok them; he could only file them away to be relived at leisure.

His brother Jubal had assured him that be would grok this strange and beautiful place more quickly if he would learn to read, so he had taken a full day off to learn to read really well and quickly, with Jill pointing to words and pronouncing them for him. It had meant staying out of the swimming pool all that day, which had been a great sacrifice, as swimming (once he got it through his head that it was actually permitted) was not merely an exuberant, sensuous delight but almost unbearable religious ecstasy. If Jill and Jubal had not told him to do otherwise, he would never have come out of the pool at all.

 

Stranger in a Strange Land – Heinlein Robert

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