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Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Chapters VI–VIII

Chapters I–V

Chapters VI–VIII, page 2

page 1 of 3

Chapter VI

At dinner, Ben and Jill watch a "stereo tank"—a television-like device. Douglas appears on the screen delivering a speech and then interviewing the Man from Mars. Smith answers Douglas' questions articulately and uncontroversially. Ben is upset after the interview, thinking that Douglas has enlisted Smith to say whatever Douglas chooses.

Jill tells Ben that the man on the screen is not the same Smith she met at the hospital. Ben does not believe Jill at first, but she convinces him. Ben realizes that, so long as Smith has a false public face, the Douglas administration can kill, or do whatever they want, with the real Smith. Ben decides he needs to get the real Smith out of the hospital.

Chapter VII

At the hospital, Jill is told that Smith has been moved to another room. An unconscious old woman now occupies his old room.

Ben brings a man named James Cavendish on his mission to see Smith, whose profession, called "Fair Witness," is to act as a neutral observer in any situation and keep an unbiased mental account of what he observes. Ben also brings a lawyer to the hospital, and they demand to see Smith. Gilbert Berquist, an executive assistant to Douglas, comes to stonewall Ben, but when Ben tells Berquist that he has heard rumors that the Smith interview was faked, Berquist arranges for Ben and company to see Smith.

In his hospital room, Ben comes up with a question that flummoxes Smith, suggesting that he is not the authentic Smith but indeed an actor. Ben and his companions are thrown out of the room. Leaving the hospital, Cavendish suggests to Ben that he should have checked to see if the "Smith" they saw had calluses consistent with Earth gravity and footwear. Cavendish could not have suggested this while in the room, because a Fair Witness cannot interfere while on duty. Ben is frustrated at having missed this opportunity to prove Smith is being impersonated. Headed home, Ben's automated flying cab stops obeying his orders and takes him to a courtyard where he finds himself losing consciousness.

Chapter VIII

As part of her nursing duties, Jill needs to retrieve a powered bed, and recalling one in Smith's old room, she heads there. The doctor on duty watching the old woman on a video screen ask Jill to hold his post for a moment while he runs to the bathroom. Jill decides to enter the unconscious woman's room and retrieve the bed. Inside the room she sees Smith and realizes that the woman is only there so that no one will suspect that the real Smith is also there.

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Apollo =/= Mars

by Brags753, July 10, 2013

The summary incorrectly states that Apollo is the Greek "word" for Mars. Actually, Ares is the Greek name for the god known as Mars in Latin.

Apollo is one of the few classical gods known by nearly the same name in Greek and Latin. In English, he is called Apollo in both contexts.