The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Paperback – Jun 15 1997
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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 ClancySee all Product Description
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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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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.
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!
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!"
Mannie O'Kelly-Davis works for Luna's administration as a contract computer trouble-shooter. When the central computer achieves self-awareness and begins calling itself "Mike," Mannie is the first one to notice. Advising Mike to keep a low profile about his new-found sentience, Mannie becomes his "first and best friend." And they both get caught up in a revolutionary movement to free Luna.
I liked this when I read it as a kid. Rereading it as an adult was a thought-provoking experience. Luna's "revolution" is organized into COMINTERN-style cell system with elaborate security procedures and more than a little lying to and stealing from innocent people. A few even get killed. All of this highlights how young people can be drawn into such dubious enterprises in real life. As Mannie observes, "Kids will do anything which is mysterious and fun." All of this sneaking around has a Tom Sawyerish feel to it.
Disturbingly, everyone proceeds with the fanatical assumption that everything is secondary to the revolution. This allows lying, killing and stealing to proceed with few second thoughts. A less extreme stance might at least have had the revolutionaries struggling with these moral concerns a bit. Better would be having them proceed while balancing a number of concerns and values--like real, non-fanatical people do.
Still, it is a classic and worth reading.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished 19 months ago by Anakina
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 22 months ago by Harvey Vdarski
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 22 months ago by Ted C. Jimmo
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 morePublished on Aug. 26 2013 by tim jackson
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
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 morePublished on Sept. 25 2009 by Amy Sinclair
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
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 morePublished on Aug. 5 2008 by Krypter
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 morePublished on Nov. 30 2007 by Bima