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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress [Paperback]

Robert A. Heinlein
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 15 1997
Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential science fiction writer of his era, an influence so large that, as Samuel R. Delany notes, "modern critics attempting to wrestle with that influence find themselves dealing with an object rather like the sky or an ocean." He won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, a record that still stands. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was the last of these Hugo-winning novels, and it is widely considered his finest work.

It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the winner of the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

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Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, "We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is." Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"We proceed down a path marked by his ideas." --Tom Clancy

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First Sentence
I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect-and tax-public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Heinlein's three finest novels Sept. 8 2003
I rank this among Heinlein's three absolutely magisterial novels (the other two being _The Door into Summer_ and _Double Star_).
I'm not altogether sure why it's regarded as a "libertarian" novel; although Heinlein was indeed calling himself a libertarian by the time he wrote it, there's nothing much here by way of a principled case for liberty. But it sure is some great storytelling.
It's 2076, see, and Luna is a penal colony (rather like Botany Bay). Projections indicate that it's losing natural resources at such a rate that it will become uninhabitable within a small number of years. So it's time to reenact the American Revolution.
But this time it's led by computer repairman Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis, "rational anarchist" Professor Bernardo de la Paz, rabble-rousing rebel Wyoming Knott, and a HOLMES IV computer named Mycroft who happens to have become sentient.
Okay, the technological projections aren't the most accurate (even for Heinlein, who didn't average all that well anyway). But man oh man, what a story.
And it's narrated by Mannie himself, in a thick Lunar dialect that owes a lot to Russian (and, one suspects, to Anthony Burgess's _A Clockwork Orange_). Heinlein does a wonderful job here, keeping the tone just right throughout the entire novel and never drifting into obscurity.
Heinlein made his original reputation with brilliant short stories, but this novel is one of the reasons he kept it. Nearly forty years after it was written, it's still on the shortlist of the best SF ever. Don't miss it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This novel is a study of the politics and mechanics of a planet's struggle for independence, packaged as compelling science fiction. It takes part in the 2070s when the collection of human settlements on the moon want independence from the oppressive international "Federated Nations" of Earth. Without spoiling anything, the first part of the book takes place on the moon ("Luna") with help from the lunar super-computer who has secretly achieved consciousness, the second part is human negotiations on Earth ("Terra"), and the last part is back on the moon for the final struggle, again teamed up with the artificially intelligent "Mike".

Although heavy on political science at times, this landmark sci-fi story is nonetheless a wonderful blend of subjects such as the novelties and challenges of off-planet human settlement, long-term sustainability, independence, revolution, leadership and organizational theory, politics (especially libertarianism and anarchism), international (and interplanetary) affairs and trade, military strategy, cultural identity, community, polygamy, physics, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and media/mass communication.

The character development is excellent between Manuel (technical expert), Prof (political expert), and Mike, the computer with brains, personality, and independent thought.

Even though the lunar revolution is *against* the reader's familiar Earth, you easily side with the rebellion and the Lunies' fascinating culture and difficult lifestyle that's on the line.

Enjoy the ride!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in one sitting Nov. 3 2003
I'm not embarrassed to admit that I actually got teary eyed at the end of this book. It was one of the most engrossing, well written books RAH penned. It proved that his "black belt" in writing was well deserved. Any SF fan would enjoy this book, period. I know a LOT of people that love SF and some that tolerate it. All really - really- liked this book.
Come on, RAH even did some time hopping in another novel to revisit the events of this one - and "save" a key character. As the old cereal commercial states "try it - you'll like it!"
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2.0 out of 5 stars A report, not a novel July 10 2014
By Anakina
This book has left me puzzled. The setting (the Moon) is undoubtedly fascinating. The story itself, although it is a sci-fi reinterpretation of the American Revolutionary War, has a remarkable originality. Unfortunately I did not like the way it was developed and only the first two points have allowed me to give it two stars instead of one.
We have a lot on the plate and we immediately realize that a novel is just too little to develop all that as it should. The result is that it appears to be largely a mere report, full of super-detailed technical information in the political, scientific field, etc ..., with facts summarized in a few lines here and there, and only portions of dialogues, which fail to bare the feelings and the humanity of the characters.
The most obvious consequence is boredom.
Yet in the beginning I had been intrigued with the computer, Mike, that had taken self-consciousness, thus becoming alive. But then the story ends up relying too much on this intelligent, likeable, able to do anything, infallible supercomputer, only thanks to which (at least roughly) the characters succeed to achieve their goals.
It seemed too easy.
I was hoping for an improvement, but I found myself trudging in the middle of the book wishing for it to end as quickly as possible. A story that is essentially told, in which little is shown as it should. The same choice to tell it from the point of view of a single character limits it a lot.
Despite the long timescales of the narrative, the ending is obvious from the moment you understand what the story is really about. There are no real twists or, better, the way in which the events are narrated makes them little surprising.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Really just...
Really just boring and pretty hard to get into, the style of writing is more aggravating than anything else so I don't know what to say.
Published 3 months ago by Harvey Vdarski
5.0 out of 5 stars One of RAH's best
A great story, characters you'd like to know, and a nice format size edition. My old copy was falling apart, and this makes a fine replacement.
Published 3 months ago by Ted C. Jimmo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
I have read and reread the book, probably more than 250 times (no kidding). I went to the local library to search for a book by the same author recommended by a teacher for me to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by tim jackson
3.0 out of 5 stars Revolution of the Moon
Luna is the Australia of the future. Populated largely by criminal transportees and their families, it supplies critically-needed food to a near-starving Earth. Read more
Published 17 months ago by John M. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Heinlein's best.
This is Heinlein at his iconoclastic best, perhaps overshadowed only by Stranger in a Strange Land. This is one of my all time SF favorites.
Published on Sept. 21 2011 by D. Oldridge
3.0 out of 5 stars A prison planet seeks its independence
I was very excited to read the book. The basic jist is that the moon has become a giant prison with no way out. Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2009 by Amy Sinclair
5.0 out of 5 stars A for "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein
A for "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein

Despite the writing style that is incredibly difficult to get used to, this is one of the best sf novels I've... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2009 by Zafri M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein's Best
To say that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was prophetic would be quite the understatement, but it's not just Heinlein's brilliant depiction of a near-future Earth and Moon that... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2008 by Krypter
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Lunacy
The science is dated. It doesn't matter. The plot is straightforward without a lot of unexpected twists. It doesn't matter. People talk funny. It doesn't matter. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2007 by K. S. Puls
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written if somewhat dated...
Although originally written in the 60's, this book was still interesting to read even in 2004. Obviously, some of the technology seems a little out dated - but the book is mostly... Read more
Published on March 27 2004 by rjpryan
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