The Simple Technology That Could Make Heinlein's Classic Novel Into A Novella

At 220,000 words, Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land is one of the most famous doorstoppers in science-fiction history. (There's an edited version, which loses about 60,000 words.) Now a biologist has explained it could be much shorter.

One of our favorite blogs, Biology In Science Fiction, posted some random thoughts about science fiction books, including the recipe for making Stranger In A Strange Land a slim pamphlet:

Stranger in a Strange Land would have been much much shorter if in Heinlein's future America effective birth control had been invented before a manned expedition was sent to Mars.

She also points out it could be a fantasy book, without changing the plot, if "Michael Valentine Smith had been raised by wizards instead of Martians."

She also explains the main problem with Asimov's decision to link his robot novels and the Foundation series: it makes "the humanity's expansion onto many worlds, the creation of the Galactic Empire and its replacement by the Foundation ultimately due to the meddling of a couple of mind-reading, mind-influencing robots. I'd like to think that we'll conquer the universe without the nudging of telepathic robot nannies." [Biology In Science Fiction]