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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Heinlein's three finest novels
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...
Published on Sept. 8 2003 by John S. Ryan

versus
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


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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
By 
John S. Ryan "Scott Ryan" (Cuyahoga Falls, OH) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A sci-fi joyride in lunar rebellion, interplanetary politics, and artificial intelligence, Nov. 30 2011
By 
Brad Kynoch (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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
By 
This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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
This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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.
The motivations of the characters, including the protagonist who speaks in first person, are not at all clear. Their feelings are said in words, but not shown convincingly in the gestures.
From the reading I received an almost sterile report of facts, which completely failed to entertain me.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
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3.0 out of 5 stars Really just..., April 19 2014
By 
Harvey Vdarski - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of RAH's best, April 3 2014
By 
Ted C. Jimmo "Past & Present" (West Coast Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Aug. 26 2013
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. I was rapt. I continue to get the book at times when I go out to eat. I had it in soft cover but wore away the cover and pages on 3 separate novels. The hard cover version is not experiencing the same treatment. I continue to read and find new information in the book. I have to say it is the best book I have ever read. Mannie, Mike, Wyoh, the prof are fantastic. I have learned the role Mimi Davis (Mannie's wife) played in the book. It is a testament to how we should live IN the moon today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Revolution of the Moon, Feb. 23 2013
By 
John M. Ford "johnDC" (near DC, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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. The "Loonies" are governed by a dictatorial warden and his small army of security guards. Luna seems like the most secure prison colony ever founded. There is truly no escape.

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. There are some recognizable early-Heinlein patterns. There is the "wise old man" who always knows the answer and advises the other characters. Nobody notices when he is inconsistent or just plain wrong. There is Heinlein's signature dualism in treatment of female characters. He praises them to the skies, then doesn't give them much more to do than bring coffee and ask the male heroes naïve questions. And there is all the talking. Characters are always describing things to each other. It's an okay technique, but in moderation--please!

Heinlein fans and scholars of mid-twentieth century science fiction: Buy it and read it! Other science fiction fans: Check it out of the library sometime. Knowing about it is a science fiction cultural literacy requirement.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Heinlein's best., Sept. 21 2011
By 
D. Oldridge "Dave Oldridge" (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A prison planet seeks its independence, Sept. 25 2009
By 
Amy Sinclair (seattle WA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Paperback)
I was very excited to read the book. The basic jist is that the moon has become a giant prison with no way out. After living on the moon for a certian amount of time your body changes and you cannot return to earth. So any prison sentance, becomes a life sentance. As the population grows and time goes by, most of the moon is inhabited by free men and women. Their resources are limited and controled by earth. A fight for indepence and equal opportunity begins. I enjoyed this book, but it was a little too political for me. If you are into politics and sci fi I think it would be right up your ally. Still a good read.
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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (Paperback - June 15 1997)
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