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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A Brilliant Novel About Liberty, Sentience, and Humanity

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a fascinating and politically gripping novel of gargantuan proportion. Written by Robert Heinlein during the peak of his creative genius, the novel surrounds and encapsulates its reader by transporting them to a time and place that today ...
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a fascinating and politically gripping novel of gargantuan proportion. Written by Robert Heinlein during the peak of his creative genius, the novel surrounds and encapsulates its reader by transporting them to a time and place that today many believe is not possible.

The novel is set during 2076 on a Moon colony where the residents were once convicted criminals on Earth. The regime that is depicted in the novel is reminiscent of a dictatorship and the population is oppressed to the point of insanity. The plot centers on a computer technician and a super-computer that becomes sentient during the opening chapters of the book. The computer, referred to as MIKE, chooses to help the technician and others who have come to believe that a revolution is needed on the Moon in order to restore the basic human rights that were once guaranteed to them. The libertarian-style revolution that the computer and the revolution's leader, an eccentric and highly educated professor named de la Paz, orchestrate forces a response from Earth that ultimately leads to confrontation. The confrontation leads to revolution with the Moon colonists faring quite well thanks mostly to MIKE who controls much of the Moon's electrical and mechanical systems. However, even though the colonists ultimately win recognition from Earth, in the final barrage of the Moon, MIKE is knocked about quite violently and when rebooted no longer has sentience.

The novel is about liberty, desire, and self-awareness. Libertarianism, a key concept in the book, is evaluated and examined with more voracity than any professional political pundit could do and yet, at the end you are left wondering-did it work? For at the end of the story, Heinlein leaves much open. It appears he wanted to let his reader decide the true fate of the revolutionaries. The novel is more than just a fiction book about libertarian revolution on the Moon, it is provides a true social and political critique on the system of government that exists in the United States. There are many threads of thought and consciousness the run through the book that require the reader not only to just read and possibly understand the story, but to question the story. And, as always to recognize "TANSTAAFL" or there ain't no such thing as a free lunch!

This Hugo Award-winning novel is a true testament to Heinlein's writing genius and style and in my opinion is possibly his greatest work. This book should be required reading for any individual who questions the motives of the society in which they reside and anyone interested in libertarianism, government authority, and freedom.

posted by Zenophile on August 30, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

You will find this book under the Sci-Fi section and I have to be honest, as far as sci-fi books, this one is not much. I will give it props, considering that it was written in the sixties, it actually was pretty accurate in the way somethings would have worked in the f...
You will find this book under the Sci-Fi section and I have to be honest, as far as sci-fi books, this one is not much. I will give it props, considering that it was written in the sixties, it actually was pretty accurate in the way somethings would have worked in the future, but as far as this book being an entertaining sci-fi, Mistress falls short of the mark. That being said, it is very clear from the beginning that this book is intended to be far more than an `entertaining¿ sci-fi book, focusing instead on politics, social commentary and libertarian ideals and that is where this book shines.

The setting is the Moon (or Luna, as they refer to it) a penal colony, where all of earth¿s outcasts were once sent to serve their prisons. It was the perfect set up, as far as Earth was concerned, you got rid of your malignant entities pretty much for good, because once you spend a certain amount of time in the moon, your body becomes adjusted to the lower gravitational pull and you will eventually reach a point were coming back to earth is impossible. And as far as the prison in the Moon goes, it is also perfect. No need for cells, bars, walls, the prisoners were free to live as they wished, it is not like they could escape anywhere.

Time goes by and eventually the colony ceases to be a prison, more people begin to head out to Luna to make a living, the way pioneers did during the gold rush. It is a difficult lifestyle, but one that they seem to have streamlined without the aid of government or any true ruling, quite easily. The only darkside to this lifestyle, is the precense of the Warden and his troops, who remain in authority even though the colony is no longer penal. `Authority¿ controls all the crucial aspects of society, dictating the prices of the produce they sell, the water they utilize, the air their breathe, etc. Needless to say, by the 2070¿s certain citizens have had enough. It is not until Wyoming Knott, a beautiful blonde speaker, comes to speak in regards to revolution and independence that the wheels start actually turning.

Caught in the motion are Manny, a one armed tech man, in charge of Authority¿s computer systems; Profesor Bernardo de la Paz, an eclectic, well respected old man and Mike (named after Mycroft Holmes, brother of Sherlock Holmes), a computer that has made so many `neural¿ connections with other computers that it actually becomes sentient. And it is this ragged bunch, that come together and plot revolution, to gain a free Luna.

It is a cool and interesting concept, with very interesting ideas, however ideological and in for that aspect, this is very much a book worth reading. However, those of you that are looking for an entertaining read, will find this bland, at best. The plot moves painfully slow and dialogue is over abundant and on the verge of repetitive, to the point where if you have no interest in politics and the libertarian theories, then chances are you will not get to the end of this book. So¿.keep that in mind before picking this one up. There are some interesting theories in regards to society, the role of government and even marriage, but all of that may not amount to an interesting read, if what you are looking for is a thriller.

posted by FocoProject on October 27, 2008

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

    You will find this book under the Sci-Fi section and I have to be honest, as far as sci-fi books, this one is not much. I will give it props, considering that it was written in the sixties, it actually was pretty accurate in the way somethings would have worked in the future, but as far as this book being an entertaining sci-fi, Mistress falls short of the mark. That being said, it is very clear from the beginning that this book is intended to be far more than an `entertaining¿ sci-fi book, focusing instead on politics, social commentary and libertarian ideals and that is where this book shines.<BR/><BR/>The setting is the Moon (or Luna, as they refer to it) a penal colony, where all of earth¿s outcasts were once sent to serve their prisons. It was the perfect set up, as far as Earth was concerned, you got rid of your malignant entities pretty much for good, because once you spend a certain amount of time in the moon, your body becomes adjusted to the lower gravitational pull and you will eventually reach a point were coming back to earth is impossible. And as far as the prison in the Moon goes, it is also perfect. No need for cells, bars, walls, the prisoners were free to live as they wished, it is not like they could escape anywhere.<BR/><BR/>Time goes by and eventually the colony ceases to be a prison, more people begin to head out to Luna to make a living, the way pioneers did during the gold rush. It is a difficult lifestyle, but one that they seem to have streamlined without the aid of government or any true ruling, quite easily. The only darkside to this lifestyle, is the precense of the Warden and his troops, who remain in authority even though the colony is no longer penal. `Authority¿ controls all the crucial aspects of society, dictating the prices of the produce they sell, the water they utilize, the air their breathe, etc. Needless to say, by the 2070¿s certain citizens have had enough. It is not until Wyoming Knott, a beautiful blonde speaker, comes to speak in regards to revolution and independence that the wheels start actually turning.<BR/><BR/>Caught in the motion are Manny, a one armed tech man, in charge of Authority¿s computer systems; Profesor Bernardo de la Paz, an eclectic, well respected old man and Mike (named after Mycroft Holmes, brother of Sherlock Holmes), a computer that has made so many `neural¿ connections with other computers that it actually becomes sentient. And it is this ragged bunch, that come together and plot revolution, to gain a free Luna.<BR/><BR/>It is a cool and interesting concept, with very interesting ideas, however ideological and in for that aspect, this is very much a book worth reading. However, those of you that are looking for an entertaining read, will find this bland, at best. The plot moves painfully slow and dialogue is over abundant and on the verge of repetitive, to the point where if you have no interest in politics and the libertarian theories, then chances are you will not get to the end of this book. So¿.keep that in mind before picking this one up. There are some interesting theories in regards to society, the role of government and even marriage, but all of that may not amount to an interesting read, if what you are looking for is a thriller.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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