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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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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress + Stranger in a Strange Land + The Forever War
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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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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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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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Cast the first stone March 17 2004
I am not much of a science fiction reader or film watcher but when my friend bought THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS for my birthday, it instantly became one of my favorite books. Not one of my favorite science fiction books, one of my favorite books period. And what makes it such is its sturdy character development and plot development. All the characters are believeable and likeable. This includes Mike the computer. His desire to understand humor and humans must have been revolutionary for the time the book was written.
I have heard of Heinlein's political leanings and how they affected his writing. However, I did not sense that the novel was a veiled attempt at spewing a manifesto. The story is simply about humans wanting to be treated as such, and having to fight for that treatment. Mike's suggestion to "throw rocks" at the oppressors was absolutely brilliant. It made me think of the Biblical line: "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone". Maybe there's a link, maybe not. I'm sure there are dozens of master's theses out there on this subject. In any event, this is a brilliant work of fiction of any kind! Read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I like Mike. Jan. 13 2004
With TANSTAAFL for a screen name, how could I not review this book. ;-)
TANSTAAFL (There Aint No Such Thing As A Free Lunch) is the theme of this book and here Heinlein, unlike some of his other works, manages to intertwine his plot and theme without being too preachy.
Heinlein who, preachy or not, is always a great storyteller is at the top of his game with this one. The people of the moon, populated primarily by prisoners and their decendants a la Australia, rise up for a hopelessly outmanned and outgunned battle with Earth. The story is told through the eyes of an everyman hero, Manuel Garcia O'Kelly, jack of all trades and even master of a few of them. An everyman protaganist is, of course, helpful for the reader to identify with but Heinlein makes the book great, rather than good, with the inclusion of three of the most memorable characters in SF literature. Professor Bernado de la Paz, a veteran revolucianario full of contradictions, Wyoming Knott, who I do not want to describe here because you should discover her for yourself in the book, and Mycroft Holmes, not Sherlock's smarter brother, but rather the smartest computer who we know has reached sentience because he wants what we all want - to be loved.
If you have never read Heinlein, read this book.
If you have read Heinlein and haven't yet read this, read this book.
If you have already read this book, read it again, I have been re-reading it every few years for more than 30 years now, and I still love to read it.
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Not surprisingly, this 1966 Heinlein classic is, by today's (2003) standards, ludicrously dated in terms of it's vision for artificial intelligence. More importantly, the books character development is simply juvenile. Seems odd, in retrospect, how the Libertarian movement could have sprung from interest in this sappy book.
Near the end, I was, in all honesty, simply begging for one of the fictitious lead characters to expire (and he did), and for the computer to shut up (and it did).
Good science fiction, like "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea", remains worth reading whether or not it's scientific vision has been outlived by the real world, simply because it's good fiction. Some science fiction, like the "Dune" series, would still be good fiction even if it's science vision became outdated, either because you come to care about the characters or because the story line itself is so compelling.
Unfortunately, "The Moon..." fails on both accounts for today's first time reader.
Instead, try Dan Simmons' "Hyperion". Deeply satisfying human drama amid a mind-blowing future universe. Certainly an unfair comparison, but hey, my only purpose is to point you to a great read. Enjoy!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A report, not a novel
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anakina
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 4 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 5 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 12 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 19 months ago by John M. Ford
4.0 out of 5 stars A sci-fi joyride in lunar rebellion, interplanetary politics, and...
This novel is a study of the politics and mechanics of a planet's struggle for independence, packaged as compelling science fiction. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2011 by Brad Kynoch
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
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