Top positive review
Free Luna! One of Heinlein's best novels
on July 20, 2002
The setting of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is the Moon, which is Earth's penal colony in 2076, something along the lines of Australia. Transportees get a one-way trip for vagrancy, juvenile deliquency, criminal activity or just being in the way in over-populated areas. Other choose to freely emigrate, a permanent decision, as the muscle atrophy that occurs in the low gravity make re-establishing a life on Earth difficult. The Warden presides over the colony, he is a political appointee (and one would imagine, a previously powerful pol who found himself on the wrong side of the aisle at one point and won himself a permanent sinecure.)
The people on Luna are free to do what they want; there are no laws except mandates set down by the Warden. And in this environment, a libertarian society has evolved. Politeness and caution in dealing with others is a valued trait because unpleasant "chums" can be eliminated with no questions asked. Instead of being ruled by gangs or a mafia, the Moon has become a very free and pleasant place to live, that is, if you understand the principle of TANSTAAFL, or "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch."
Women are scarce (as one would expect, fewer are transported than men.) Instead of being chattel to men, women are prized, and polyandrous marriages are common (mulitple husbands, one woman.) But all is not well in this airless paradise; someone has figured out that Luna is in trouble. Water is running out, and no one seems to care.
Against this backdrop, a motley cabal forms to rebel against the careless authority and set up a Free Luna. The characters are smart, lovable and entertaining; a jack-of-trades, a beautiful blonde, a crusty professor and... a sentient computer with a warped sense of humor. The revolution begins, and if you haven't read this book, you are in for a real treat. The struggle is exciting and the end, well, I cried and maybe you will too. I rate this as one of Heinlein's three best books, along with Starship Troopers and Time Enough for Love.