March Books 13) Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein
Of Heinlein's four or five Hugo-winning novels (Double Star, Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and retro-Hugo-winning Farmer in the Sky) this probably is the best. (Reserving judgement on TMiaHM as I haven't re-read it yet.) Which I not to say that it's a perfect piece of work. The things that make a lot of Heinlein's later work deeply annoying are all here - the cringingly awful dialogue, the gender stereotyping, the know-it-all Author's Voice character - but somehow not as bad as they later became; the targets of his humour in politics, religion and society are fairly well chosen and to a certain extent still relevant; and Valentine Michael Smith is actually rather fascinating as a concept - we're in the territory of Candide and Rasselas, but with Martians offstage. Heinlein must have been a bit surprised that his libertarian parable spiced up with sex and aliens became popular with the counter-culture of the later sixties, but readers do not always take away what writers think they are bringing to a work.
It's striking that I don't think I have even heard of, let alone read, any of the other 1962 nominees (Dark Universe by Daniel F. Galouye, Sense of Obligation/Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison, The Fisherman/Time Is the Simplest Thing by Clifford D. Simak and Second Ending by James White).