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Révolte sur la lune (Science-fiction)

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La Lune a ete transformee en colonie penitentiaire. Manuel Garcia O'Kelly y mene une existence de technicien informatique sans la moindre perspective. Ne libre, il est condamne a partager le destin des bagnards de Luna et de leurs descendants, dont la Terre exploite sans vergogne le travail. Mais Manuel reve de justice. Quand Mike, son superordinateur devenu une entite con La Lune a ete transformee en colonie penitentiaire. Manuel Garcia O'Kelly y mene une existence de technicien informatique sans la moindre perspective. Ne libre, il est condamne a partager le destin des bagnards de Luna et de leurs descendants, dont la Terre exploite sans vergogne le travail. Mais Manuel reve de justice. Quand Mike, son superordinateur devenu une entite consciente, finit par deduire des donnees a sa disposition que la colonie lunaire court a sa perte si elle ne se libere pas du joug terrestre, la solution s'impose d'elle-meme: il faut organiser la revolte.Vaste reflexion sur la politique et les passions humaines, l'histoire et la science, Revolte sur la Lune est le quatrieme roman de Robert Heinlein a avoir obtenu le prix Hugo.L'un des livres de reference de la S-F americaine. Patrick Imbert, NooSFere.com"


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La Lune a ete transformee en colonie penitentiaire. Manuel Garcia O'Kelly y mene une existence de technicien informatique sans la moindre perspective. Ne libre, il est condamne a partager le destin des bagnards de Luna et de leurs descendants, dont la Terre exploite sans vergogne le travail. Mais Manuel reve de justice. Quand Mike, son superordinateur devenu une entite con La Lune a ete transformee en colonie penitentiaire. Manuel Garcia O'Kelly y mene une existence de technicien informatique sans la moindre perspective. Ne libre, il est condamne a partager le destin des bagnards de Luna et de leurs descendants, dont la Terre exploite sans vergogne le travail. Mais Manuel reve de justice. Quand Mike, son superordinateur devenu une entite consciente, finit par deduire des donnees a sa disposition que la colonie lunaire court a sa perte si elle ne se libere pas du joug terrestre, la solution s'impose d'elle-meme: il faut organiser la revolte.Vaste reflexion sur la politique et les passions humaines, l'histoire et la science, Revolte sur la Lune est le quatrieme roman de Robert Heinlein a avoir obtenu le prix Hugo.L'un des livres de reference de la S-F americaine. Patrick Imbert, NooSFere.com"

30 review for Révolte sur la lune (Science-fiction)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    TANSTAAFL = There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. My three favorite books of all time are (in no order) Heart of Darkness, The Dispossessed, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. When I first read this years ago I loved it, I could not put it down. As Stranger in a Strange Land was a Robert A. Heinlein vehicle for theology, so is Moon is a Harsh Mistress to ideology. And just as The Fountainhead is the better, though less epic, of the pair with Atlas Shrugged, so is Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the TANSTAAFL = There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. My three favorite books of all time are (in no order) Heart of Darkness, The Dispossessed, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. When I first read this years ago I loved it, I could not put it down. As Stranger in a Strange Land was a Robert A. Heinlein vehicle for theology, so is Moon is a Harsh Mistress to ideology. And just as The Fountainhead is the better, though less epic, of the pair with Atlas Shrugged, so is Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the more focused and simple of the two, better than Stranger in a Strange Land. I liked the setting, the use of libertarian principles and of course the brilliant work of the Grandmaster himself. This is a virtuoso science fiction futuristic re-telling of the American Revolution. Told from the first person recollection of a computer technician (with thick Russian accent) and of the birth and progress of the Lunar independence. The Moon (Luna to it’s residents – who call themselves Loonies) has been a penal colony for decades. It is the perfect prison, get outside the underground warrens and beyond the air locks and you’re on the moon. Without a pressure suit, you’re dead. There are very little rules and no real laws, so a hardscrabble anarchy has created a loose but tough and resilient populace who want freedom. Certainly this libertarian paradise could have become an anarchistic hell, but in Heinlein’s hard loving hands, his creation is the Free State of Luna. This story tracks with the American Revolution with unfair and distant landowners, inept and uncaring provisional governors (the warden) and even a declaration of independence on the fourth of July. Students of revolutionary movements will also see an allegory for “throwing rocks” as a statement about the earliest stages of discontent and reaction. First published in 1966, this was written at the zenith of his considerable powers and stands as a true classic of the genre. I just re-read this (one the very few books that I have read more than once) and may re-read it again – it’s that good. ** 2018 addendum - it is a testament to great literature that a reader recalls the work years later and this is a book about which I frequently think. A friend commented about Heinlein books and I realized as we talked that when I think about Heinlein, my mind automatically defaults to this book. When I read SF I project this on that book and I wonder if that author read and was inspired. This is on my short list of all-time favorites and I think this should be on a very short list of greatest SF books of all time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    do you play games where you know the outcome of the game itself is without question... where any fun to be had is not so much in the winning - that's predetermined - but in figuring out how exactly you will win, what moves you will make, how you will overcome all those minor hurdles along the way? that's sometimes how i feel when playing chess with some folks. for me, it's not the most exciting thing in the world; it's a little eye-rolling. i think others may have more excitement when playing a do you play games where you know the outcome of the game itself is without question... where any fun to be had is not so much in the winning - that's predetermined - but in figuring out how exactly you will win, what moves you will make, how you will overcome all those minor hurdles along the way? that's sometimes how i feel when playing chess with some folks. for me, it's not the most exciting thing in the world; it's a little eye-rolling. i think others may have more excitement when playing a game they know they'll win. my little nephews seem to have a really enjoyable time kicking my ass at their various new-fangled video games. personally i don't get it, but they seem to love illustrating how easy and exciting it is, the thrill of watching all their strategies and skills coming to predictable fruition. even when there is no real competition. their eventual win is obvious. and that's the impression that i'm left with after reading the enjoyable Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. the novel is about a revolution on Luna by its oppressed permanent labor force. far in the future, the moon is the newest Prison Island... once you are transported there, you can't come back. and there you work, mainly to export grain, and live a life of economic exploitation by The Lunar Authority. you will alway live in this proletariat society. overall, it is actually not a horrible existence. the "Loonies" are an enjoyable lot, unpretentious and down to earth, concerned mainly with beer, gambling, and the ladies. Heinlein creates an odd and i suppose semi-utopic world, with a pleasing lack of laws (a kind of libertarian anarchy of sorts) and a surprisingly liberated view on women. basically, women are the social/family/romantic Boss of It All... not truly a matriarchal society per se, but rather one built around the need to make sure women are completely empowered. apparently due to the 2-to-1 status of men to women on the moon, and the need for women to be 'available' to much more than monogamy, if they so chose. still, despite the basic lack of horror in this odd world... it's no fun to be exploited by bureaucratic overseers. and so must come REVOLUTION! we have our friendly & no-nonsense Everyman, we have our bewitching & passionate Lady in Hiding, we have our amusing & highly intellectual Idealistic Professor. and of course we have our sentient computer Mike, who likes to play games. and revolution is just another kind of game, right? the writing is breezy, casual, and in a sort of pidgen english - a kind of cross between baby talk and our very own text messaging style. that style should be annoying but actually isn't. much like with HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we have a fascinating computer who provides all of the genuinely emotional and resonant moments in the narrative. and - perhaps because of the time period in which the novel was written, but certainly topical today - we have a step-by-step account of How To Make A Revolution Work. Heinlein's passions come across mainly in the world-building of this almost-utopia and in the very detailed expression of how exactly to overthrow the chains of oppression through revolution (and i suppose a bit of terrorism, at times). so back to my original point. i liked this novel, but i would never consider reading it a second time. it was fun. but the outcome was never in question. Heinlein loads the dice by making sure that everything happens as projected, each step of the way. no tension... and a tension-free revolution is a curiously child-like enterprise. child-like but not childish. there is a sweet naïveté to it all. Heinlein jerry-built this revolution to be won and so i never felt any kind of nervousness, i never worried. the only stakes that were meaningful to me were the (rather slight) emotional stakes around Mike the computer: his past loneliness, his concern about whether he is actually sentient, and his need to have friends, to talk to people who are 'not-stupid'. aww... that's adorable! Mike, i'm not super-smart or anything, but i'll be your friend! cute little revolutionary computer minds are very appealing to me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Ah, Heinlein: SF's great paradox artist. I am fairly certain that I have personally held every possible wrong viewpoint on the man. Namely, that he was: 1) A radically forward-thinking visionary of libertarianism 2) A raging fascist, homophobe, and misogynist 3) Any point on the sociopolitical spectrum in between. It's not my fault. Over the course of his career, Heinlein seemed to espouse every possible viewpoint on religion, government, and gender relations (obviously, he liked to stick to small t Ah, Heinlein: SF's great paradox artist. I am fairly certain that I have personally held every possible wrong viewpoint on the man. Namely, that he was: 1) A radically forward-thinking visionary of libertarianism 2) A raging fascist, homophobe, and misogynist 3) Any point on the sociopolitical spectrum in between. It's not my fault. Over the course of his career, Heinlein seemed to espouse every possible viewpoint on religion, government, and gender relations (obviously, he liked to stick to small themes), showing little tolerance for moderate opinions. Without a blink of irony, he also placed a premium on pragmatism. And the balance of pragmatism and idealism -- or, rather, the illusion that the two can coexist effortlessly -- is what The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is all about. It is the story of a lunar colony's revolt, in the same way that The Fountainhead is a book about architects (an insulting comparison; Heinlein's prose is significantly more readable than Ayn Rand's). You see, it's really about libertarianism -- or, as one of the book's heroes characterizes it, "rational anarchism." So, a small group of revolutionaries attempts to liberate the moon from her Earthbound oppressors, and institute a perfect anarcho-syndicalist commune in their stead. They set about doing this, of course, with the help of a sentient supercomputer. They organize the people of Luna, and succeed in overthrowing the existing government, but in so doing upset the nations of Earth. After all, the moon has been shipping grain down to help feed Earth's starving masses, so they're a little cranky when the "Lunies" threaten to cut off the supply (you'd be cranky living on 1,800 calories a day too). Coincidentally, the ruling philosophy on Luna is the maxim "TANSTAAFL" -- There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. I mentioned that Heinlein was subtle, right? So they go to war, and then, in the novel's single biggest twist, the computer doesn't turn evil. I could hardly believe it. Although the book is riddled with bizarre moments that nag one's attempts to suspend disbelief (the most persistent being Mike the Computer's regular updates as to the revolutionaries' "probability of success," which starts out at 1/7, and then -- as everything proceeds to go perfectly to plan -- drops to as low as 1/100, in unapologetic defiance of all mathematical logic), the plot's weaknesses don't matter. Heinlein is a gifted novelist, and a natural storyteller. Even when the characters decide to take 10 pages off and simply talk politics for a while, it's enthralling. And talk politics they do. No one flinches at the notion of attempting to institute a perfect democracy run entirely by a handful of exceptional individuals, who themselves defer to the managerial expertise of a supercomputer (no tyrannic potential there, right?). Nor do they worry themselves with the philosophical contradiction of attempting to forge a pacifistic state by means of terrorism and interplanetary warfare (those who raise the issue, and thus violate Heinlein's worship at the Altar of Pragmatism, are conveniently Roslined out of the nearest airlock; it's okay, they're wormy enough that you won't miss 'em). But all of this simply serves to illustrate Heinlein's mastery of the ideological paradox. He's more than smart enough to recognize the inconsistencies of his own personal politics, and to play with them to terrific effect. Notably, Heinlein did not self-dentify with the majority of his protagonists. Instead, his Mary Sues are characters like Stranger in a Strange Land's Jubal Harshaw and, in the case of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Professor Bernardo de la Harshaw--er, Paz. They are cynical old men who are, in novel after novel, infallible, brilliant, well-connected, and almost disturbingly capable. Exit thought: why is it that the computer that makes the revolution possible just happens to share its name with the superhuman hero of Stranger In a Strange Land, both of whom disappear suddenly and inexplicably upon concluding their tasks?

  4. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Imagine a prison colony on the Moon Now add a new and updated twist on the American war of independence A self aware computer that actually runs the colony A non-political computer engineer A beautiful freedom fighter A politically cynical professor The birth of a (new) nation And you have one of the best hard science fiction tales ever ! image: Prison History My Grandfather Stone claimed that Luna was only open prison in history. No bars, no guards, no rules—and no need for them. Back in early days, he Imagine a prison colony on the Moon Now add a new and updated twist on the American war of independence A self aware computer that actually runs the colony A non-political computer engineer A beautiful freedom fighter A politically cynical professor The birth of a (new) nation And you have one of the best hard science fiction tales ever ! image: Prison History My Grandfather Stone claimed that Luna was only open prison in history. No bars, no guards, no rules—and no need for them. Back in early days, he said, before was clear that transportation was a life sentence, some lags tried to escape. By ship, of course—and, since a ship is mass-rated almost to a gram, that meant a ship’s officer had to be bribed. Some were bribed, they say. But were no escapes; man who takes bribe doesn’t necessarily stay bribed. I recall seeing a man just after eliminated through East Lock; don’t suppose a corpse eliminated in orbit looks prettier. Slaves of the system That we were slaves I had known all my life—and nothing could be done about it. True, we weren’t bought and sold—but as long as Authority held monopoly over what we had to have and what we could sell to buy it, we were slaves. But what could we do? Warden wasn’t our owner. Had he been, some way could be found to eliminate him. But Lunar Authority was not in Luna, it was on Terra—and we had not one ship, not even small hydrogen bomb. There weren’t even hand guns in Luna, though what we would do with guns I did not know. Shoot each other, maybe. Three million, unarmed and helpless—and eleven billion of them. . . with ships and bombs and weapons. We could be a nuisance—but how long will papa take it before baby gets spanked? A computer with a sense of humor “Mike, her name is Wyoming Knott.” “I’m very pleased to meet you, Mike. You can call me ‘Wye.’” “Why not?” Mike answered. I cut in again. “Mike, was that a joke?” “Yes, Man. I noted that her first name as shortened differs from the English causation-inquiry word by only an aspiration and that her last name has the same sound as the general negator. A pun. Not funny?” Wyoh said, “Quite funny, Mike. I—” I waved to her to shut up. “A good pun, Mike. Example of ‘funny-only-once’ class of joke. Funny through element of surprise. Second time, no surprise; therefore not funny. Check?” “I had tentatively reached that conclusion about puns in thinking over your remarks two conversations back. I am pleased to find my reasoning confirmed.” How to deal with a spy The thing to do with a spy is to let him breathe, encyst him with loyal comrades, and feed him harmless information to please his employers. These creatures will be taken into our organization. Don’t be shocked; they will be in very special cells. ‘Cages’ is a better word. But it would be the greatest waste to eliminate them—not only would each spy be replaced with someone new but also killing these traitors would tell the Warden that we have penetrated his secrets. How to fight back Let’s get back to the basic problem: how we are to cope when we find ourselves facing Terra, David facing Goliath.” “Oh. Been hoping that would go away. Mike? You really have ideas?” “I said I did, Man,” he answered plaintively. “We can throw rocks.” “Bog’s sake! No time for jokes.” “But, Man,” he protested, “we can throw rocks at Terra. We will.” And throw rocks is what they do. A space war - with rocks! Enjoy!

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    One of the presents for my mother this Christmas was an Amazon Echo (Alexa). Having recently reread Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I couldn't stop thinking about the parallels between the awakened computer, Mycroft (Mike) in this novel and Alexa. This connection was reinforced when people kept asking Alexa to tell a joke. While he helps the former convict Lunar settlers in a rebellion against Earth, MIke's obsession remains fixated on jokes (and whether they are funny only once, One of the presents for my mother this Christmas was an Amazon Echo (Alexa). Having recently reread Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I couldn't stop thinking about the parallels between the awakened computer, Mycroft (Mike) in this novel and Alexa. This connection was reinforced when people kept asking Alexa to tell a joke. While he helps the former convict Lunar settlers in a rebellion against Earth, MIke's obsession remains fixated on jokes (and whether they are funny only once, in a given situation or always funny). Maybe Alexa is not on the verge of becoming self-aware; however, the idea that artificial intelligence could awaken is explored in an interesting way by Heinlein (in 1967) without the knowledge of what AI looks like now. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress feels a little clunky in my reread, but this side plot (Mike awakening) works well with the main plot (overthrowing Earth's control of the Moon). I would also have liked more on the implications of Mike's awakening, but overall Heinlein tells an interesting and enjoyable story about the not so distant future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. On How to Spin a Top-Notch Yarn of Bullshit: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein The usual pretty crude pneumatic sex-fantasies cropped up... But women actually have a pretty dominant role in Heinlein's lunar society... It's a penal colony, and Heinlein reckons that means there are going to be far fewer women then men there - so he's come up with a system called 'line-marriage'... wherein a few women in a household shar If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. On How to Spin a Top-Notch Yarn of Bullshit: "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein The usual pretty crude pneumatic sex-fantasies cropped up... But women actually have a pretty dominant role in Heinlein's lunar society... It's a penal colony, and Heinlein reckons that means there are going to be far fewer women then men there - so he's come up with a system called 'line-marriage'... wherein a few women in a household share numerous husbands... And the head of the household is a woman... and women call the shots... Meanwhile, outside the home, women are treated with far more respect than they are on earth because they are so rare and precious... Obviously, he's not going to get any badges from feminists, but he does at least ask a few interesting questions about the way women were viewed in his own world...The characters explicitly reject using patriotism as a method to revolution.     I think that Prof De La Paz's 'rational anarchism' is also expressed by Jubal Harshaw in 'Stranger', though not in as straightforward a manner. Both seem to say that it's not that hard to figure out what ideal behavior should be but expecting actual live humans to live up that is impossible. After accepting that point, they both want to move on. Yep, humans are hypocritical and sometimes hard to live with. What of it? The other big point of this is that only the direst situation (near term cannibalism here) justifies butting into other people's business. Sadly, this attitude is pretty rare today. The characters explicitly reject using patriotism as a method to revolution.      If you're into SF, read on.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luffy

    DNFed it at 55 % or so. I can't believe that this difficult to read and difficult to follow story is so highly rated on Goodreads. The story is so painstakingly revealed, yet there are more questions than answers. The coup prepared by the oppressed moon dwellers seems to take forever. Each successful book has its own audience, or should I say, readership. Maybe only the hardcore sci-fi crowd rated this beast of a book. Maybe the usual romance reading housewives had a hand in rating this book 4 or 5 DNFed it at 55 % or so. I can't believe that this difficult to read and difficult to follow story is so highly rated on Goodreads. The story is so painstakingly revealed, yet there are more questions than answers. The coup prepared by the oppressed moon dwellers seems to take forever. Each successful book has its own audience, or should I say, readership. Maybe only the hardcore sci-fi crowd rated this beast of a book. Maybe the usual romance reading housewives had a hand in rating this book 4 or 5 stars, but I can't see this happening. I'm amazed that I lasted that long.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    What do you want us to do? Throw rocks at them? Nah, but we could have a tea party. Wow. I'm still amazed at how good this Revolution novel has held up over the years. I had read it twice before this latest re-read, but it hasn't lost any of its charm. Of course, I love Heinlein's heavy reliance on self-reliance, libertarianism, and TANSTAAFL. I'm lucky to have read him early so as to be fully indoctrinated in this gung-ho politicism of Rational Anarchy and I can laugh and whoop and grin foolishly What do you want us to do? Throw rocks at them? Nah, but we could have a tea party. Wow. I'm still amazed at how good this Revolution novel has held up over the years. I had read it twice before this latest re-read, but it hasn't lost any of its charm. Of course, I love Heinlein's heavy reliance on self-reliance, libertarianism, and TANSTAAFL. I'm lucky to have read him early so as to be fully indoctrinated in this gung-ho politicism of Rational Anarchy and I can laugh and whoop and grin foolishly all the while. But I'm weird. Still. When it comes to the story, the most amazing thing about this novel is not that it's set on the moon or that it has been populated with all of Earth's undesirables, or that they're economic slaves to the Earth. Nope. It's amazing that this book is actually a How-To-Guide on how to stage a successful revolution against a technologically and militarily superior foe, from initial planning, leverage, sleeper cells, and of course, political preparation, communication, diplomacy, and economics. And, of course, the resulting MASS DEATH of so many innocents. Can't forget that. But I suppose the one thing that sticks in my mind most strongly is the planetary computer, Mycroft. What a guy/gal. He/she always gets me in the feels. That's leverage. Fortunately or unfortunately, I keep on seeing tons of good revolution books or modern SF still stealing from this classic, either knowingly or unknowingly. Perhaps all AIs that show up in SF are a reply to Mycroft in one way or another. Who knows? This is the one that stands out supreme in my mind and perhaps always shall. Call me a Lunatic. I dare you. ;) This one won the Hugo in '66, but I also place it firmly in one of my top 100 novels of all time. :) Great stuff. :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    Very disappointing: 2.5* (it's not terrible, but it's weaker than books I award 3*, and I enjoyed it far less). I know of Heinlein as a sci-fi author and had heard of some interesting language-type things that make this novel unique, principally a Lunar dialect. Although it's mostly set in a lunar prison colony, just over 100 years after it was written (and 60 ahead of now), it's more of a political story, and the Lunar dialect is just a slightly stilted pidgin whose most notable features are the Very disappointing: 2.5* (it's not terrible, but it's weaker than books I award 3*, and I enjoyed it far less). I know of Heinlein as a sci-fi author and had heard of some interesting language-type things that make this novel unique, principally a Lunar dialect. Although it's mostly set in a lunar prison colony, just over 100 years after it was written (and 60 ahead of now), it's more of a political story, and the Lunar dialect is just a slightly stilted pidgin whose most notable features are the omission of articles and pronouns, and the odd Russian-influenced word. GOOD START, BIG IDEAS It starts off promisingly, immediately introducing big issues around artificial intelligence. Mike (short for Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother) is a supercomputer who enjoys jokes and playing pranks, which is an entertaining concept, but does he also have self-awareness, free will, emotions, personality and so on? The other principal character is Manuel (aka Mannie and Man), who is Mike's chief programmer and engineer. Oh, and a stupidly named woman, Why Not (albeit spelt Wyoming Knott, but usually abbreviated to Wyoh). Then it threw in issues of prison, punishment, freedom, civilisation, redemption, and some of the practicalities of living on the moon (low gravity, habitats, air, economics). Oh, and different types of marriage necessitated by a society with a huge gender imbalance: polyandry, clan marriage and line marriage (though the details and differences were not clearly explained). In this community, the scarcity of women gives them more power in relationships, which is a nice idea, but the opposite of what seems to be the case in China, decades after their one-child policy was introduced, with reports of young women being abducted and forced into marriage. Most of the humans living in tunnels on Luna are free: either the descendants of deported criminals, or they have served their time. In either case, they are too acclimated to return to the high gravity of Terra. There is no need for actual prisons, or even laws, because there is nowhere to escape to. The main industries are ice mining, and hydroponic farming; for the latter, they import fertilizer from Terra and then export the grain. But why go to the expense of all the transport to and from Luna, when they could do the same in tunnels on Terra? POLITICS, COLONIALISM and MORE POLITICS Understandably, some of the Loonies (as they call themselves) want independence from the exploitation of The Authority and its Warden, sent from Terra. Cue LOTS of socio-political... stuff. It's not a long book, so I ploughed on, assuming it would return to form, but it didn't. Instead, I read endless discussions of political theory and tactics (it's all about the cell system and money laundering), meetings and diplomatic missions, and eventually (view spoiler)[ war (hide spoiler)] . There are plenty of parallels with GB and Australia, but nothing startlingly original. One thing Heinlein did get right was the fundamental importance of communications, including mobile and covert - and also social media (not that he called it that, but irreverent propaganda was used to undermine the Authority and create unrest). However, everything seemed too easy. Mike was such a super supercomputer, and he had no competition. I kept waiting for something dramatic and unexpected to happen, but Mike was TOO omniscient and omnipotent for dramatic tension. ENDING A few final paragraphs tried to bring it full circle, by contemplating computer consciousness and emotions, but it felt forced and rushed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    She-Who-Reads

    This is an excellent novel, action-packed, exciting, and deftly-plotted, with fascinating, complex characters and some interesting science-fictional ideas. I also enjoyed reading about Luna's culture; I thought the marriage customs were particularly interesting. One thing I noticed right off was the way the Loonies use language differently than people from earth do. In fact, it threw me at first -- I couldn't figure out what was going on or why the language was so rough and unpolished and choppy. This is an excellent novel, action-packed, exciting, and deftly-plotted, with fascinating, complex characters and some interesting science-fictional ideas. I also enjoyed reading about Luna's culture; I thought the marriage customs were particularly interesting. One thing I noticed right off was the way the Loonies use language differently than people from earth do. In fact, it threw me at first -- I couldn't figure out what was going on or why the language was so rough and unpolished and choppy. Eventually, though, I found the rhythm of it and settled in just fine -- I didn't even notice it after a while. It makes sense; Luna started off as a penal colony and has since developed completely separate from Earth and relatively unmolested. Of course they would have their own dialect and speech patterns! To my mind, their language seems to be as efficient as possible. They trimmed away any unnecessary deadwood -- they don't use articles, for example, and very few personal pronouns, and they seem to prefer to use fragments to complete sentences. Only the essentials remain, much the same as the original colonists/prisoners had to start their lives over with only the bare essentials and sometimes not even that. This book was written about forty years ago, and it has stood the test of time quite well, but there are some aspects of it that do seem rather dated. For example, the idea behind the character of Mike -- the computer that is connected to everything and has "woken up" or become alive -- is one that is very familiar to modern readers, one that we accept easily. Apparently, we accept it much more easily than Heinlen expected his readers in 1965 to accept it, because he spends more time explaining it than he really needs to. When Mannie, the narrator, tells Wyoh about Mike and introduces them via a telephone conversation, she is shocked that Mike already knows what she looks like. He looked up her medical records and found a picture of her immediately after being introduced to her. To modern readers familiar with the internet, this is an obvious step and hardly shocking; we expect it, and Wyoh's shock and apparent need to have every detail and implication of Mike's "life" spelled out for her makes her seem a little bit stupid to us. If we don't remember that Heinlen is using Wyoh to explain things to his 1965 audience that his 2005 audience intuitively understands, then we'll get a little frustrated with Wyoh's denseness. All in all, though, this is a novel about politics -- a very complex, deep, intellectual and sophisticated look at politics, government, revolution and war. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress has a very definite world-view and political philosophy, some of which I agreed with, and some of which I really, really didn't. My agreement (or lack thereof) with the politics espoused in this book didn't seem to have much bearing on my enjoyment of it. This is a book that requires the reader to think. And that, I think, is why I loved it so much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MULTIPLE HEINLEIN SPOILERS Robert Heinlein was a good friend of AI legend Marvin Minsky (check out his people page! It's interesting!), and I've heard that they often used to chat about AI, science-fiction, and the connections between them. Here's a conversation I imagine them having some time between 1961, when Stranger in a Strange Land was published, and 1966, when The Moon is a Harsh Mistress appeared: "Bob, this book's not so bad, but I felt it could have been so much bet THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MULTIPLE HEINLEIN SPOILERS Robert Heinlein was a good friend of AI legend Marvin Minsky (check out his people page! It's interesting!), and I've heard that they often used to chat about AI, science-fiction, and the connections between them. Here's a conversation I imagine them having some time between 1961, when Stranger in a Strange Land was published, and 1966, when The Moon is a Harsh Mistress appeared: "Bob, this book's not so bad, but I felt it could have been so much better! OK, love the idea of the guy from Mars, who doesn't understand how people work and has to learn the most basic things about emotions, society, etc from first principles. You have some good stuff there. But I think you got a bit distracted with the super-powers and the sex. Sure, put in sex, all for it, but don't get Mike so involved in that part of the book. He should be more abstract I think. And I wasn't so thrilled by the fact that he never actually does anything much with his powers, except for start a minor cult and get martyred. Seems a bit negative. What does his martyrdom achieve, exactly? Wait. I have an idea. Why don't you rewrite it so that he's an artificial intelligence? Really, that makes more sense. He's even more alien than a human raised by Martians. Oh, don't worry about that, I can help you with the technical details. Feel free to drop in at the AI Lab any time, we're all huge fans. People will be delighted. So, yes, as I was saying, he needs to do something. Maybe he's... the central computer in a future Lunar society? And he helps them start a revolution, and break free from Earth's tyranny? Even though what he's really most interested in is understanding how humor works? I don't think you need to change that much else. Call him Mike again by all means, so that people see the link. And you should absolutely martyr him at the end. Only, I think this time you should do it in a subtler and more ambiguous way. But sure, leave the door open about whether he's really dead." "Hey, thanks Marvin! Terrific ideas! You know, sometimes I think you should be the science-fiction writer, and I should be the AI researcher. I'll definitely come by soon. With a draft, I feel inspired. Going to start as soon as I put the phone down. Take care!"

  12. 4 out of 5

    melydia

    My first taste of Heinlein was Stranger in a Strange Land a few years back. It was, in a word, bad. So I gave up on Heinlein all together, figuring if his most famous and critically acclaimed book was no good, what chance did the others have? This conviction was met with protests from Heinlein fans, saying I need to read some "good" Heinlein before making the call. So I did, though it took me an unusually long time to finish. I just couldn't get into it. The characters were two-dimensional and s My first taste of Heinlein was Stranger in a Strange Land a few years back. It was, in a word, bad. So I gave up on Heinlein all together, figuring if his most famous and critically acclaimed book was no good, what chance did the others have? This conviction was met with protests from Heinlein fans, saying I need to read some "good" Heinlein before making the call. So I did, though it took me an unusually long time to finish. I just couldn't get into it. The characters were two-dimensional and shared too many qualities with those in SiaSL: the brilliant innocent (here, a self-aware computer named Mike), the levelheaded and elderly teacher/father-figure (Prof the anarchist philosopher), and the beautiful, "smart" woman whose most highly praised attribute is her ability to keep her mouth shut when the men are talking about important things (Wyoh, a revolutionary with a thing for older men - another SiaSL staple). Another recycled idea (though I don't know which book came first) was the group/line marriages, where the women are said to be in charge but actually spend most of their time at home worrying about their men. These characters weren't that great the first time around; the second time was just tedious. The idea behind the story is fine: the moon is more or less a penal colony under totalitarian rule. With the help of Mike the computer, Mannie (a computer tech who talks - and narrates the story - in an obnoxious dialect that sounds like someone faking a Russian accent very poorly), Prof, and Wyoh engineer a revolution. There is some interesting discussion of political ideals and governmental structure, but without sympathetic characters to bring it to life the story is about as gripping as your average high school civics class. I simply could not bring myself to care one way or the other. Now I wonder, how many more of his books do I need to read before I can officially say I don't like Heinlein?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress begins, promisingly enough, with a conversation between the sentient computer Mike and the mechanic Mannie, our protagonist, about the subjective and paradoxical nature of humor. It then segues into a revolution whereby the Moon, a penal colony used primarily as a farm to grow wheat to feed Earth's beleaguered masses, attempts to become an independent state. The revolution is planned and executed primarily by Mike, essentially an omniscient God, and everything which The Moon is a Harsh Mistress begins, promisingly enough, with a conversation between the sentient computer Mike and the mechanic Mannie, our protagonist, about the subjective and paradoxical nature of humor. It then segues into a revolution whereby the Moon, a penal colony used primarily as a farm to grow wheat to feed Earth's beleaguered masses, attempts to become an independent state. The revolution is planned and executed primarily by Mike, essentially an omniscient God, and everything which can go right goes right and everything which might go wrong does not. It seems then that The Moon is, in fact, a rather Lenient Mistress. …and naïve, sexist, and outdated. But let’s start with the first one. New Title: The Moon is a Lenient Mistress. A clothesline with a pair of whitey-tighties has more dramatic tension than this book. Though there is, ostensibly, a macro-conflict in the form of Luna’s revolution, it doesn’t come across as such because everything always works out. Even when the plan appears to stumble, it actually turns out NOPE, it was all part of the plan. Computer Mike has no limitations and knows all. It's no surprise, and no spoiler either, to tell you the revolution succeeds. Manuel is clearly narrating in retrospect, a fact referenced multiple times throughout the book, which is itself largely told in summary, rather than depicted scene-by-scene. What about micro-conflict? Ha! You may not have known this – I certainly didn’t – but revolutionaries are all extremely polite and well-behaved. The three main characters always agree or, if disagreeing slightly, happily defer to Professor (a blatant analogue of Heinlein himself). Any character who strongly disagrees just sort of vanishes. Any character who isn’t on the good side is portrayed as a bumbling, blithering idiot. Course maybe Heinlein is just that good at mapping out a revolution. Maybe he’s a master of human nature. Maybe, should I ever plan a revolution, perhaps against our future McWalmart Overlords, I should exhume Heinlein’s body and use my necromantic powers to raise him as a zombie adviser. Except... New Title: The Moon is a Naïve Mistress. I’ll get to the dated technology in a moment, which has some excuse, but is there any excuse for an inaccurate depiction of human nature? To some degree, the lack of conflict makes sense because this is Old Sci-fi and in Old Sci-fi, drama and character often play a subordinate role to ideas and science. Much of the joy (and there is some) comes from reading this book as a Revolution For Dummies. But the joy is hampered by this book’s inauthentic depiction of the turbulence of revolution and of humanity and society in general. Case in point: The very premise is absurd. Luna is a penal colony, filled almost exclusively with convicts (in the future, capital punishment is considered ‘inhumane’). Simultaneously, Loonies (those who live on the moon) are portrayed as being exceptionally polite. Simultaneously, a good HALF of those who arrive on Luna end up dead either through carelessness or murder. Simultaneously, there are no laws. Zero. Simultaneously with all this, Luna is depicted as a stable, healthy semi-utopia. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... (wait for it) ...hhhhhhhhhhhhhh... (wait for it) ...hhhhhh no. Next up, I am a Nigerian prince who has $10,000,000 to give you. I just need your bank account information. We all know that in the absence of societal structure, the strong rule the weak. In fact, we have places without laws in the world, Somalia being one of them. Don’t think anyone would call it utopian. In addition to his wildly naïve depiction of a libertarian society, Heinlein’s grasp of gender dynamics leaves much to be desired. On Luna, the ratio of female to males is wildly skewed, a 1:2 ratio at time of story but even worse in the years before. The result, according to Heinlein, is the empowerment of women. Because that’s definitely what's happening in India. Oh wait. No, the opposite occurred. Duh. Ironically, because Heinlein obviously attempted to do otherwise, the book’s depiction of women is nothing less than creepy thereby granting TITLE NUMBER THREE. Cue drumroll…: New Title: The Moon is a Sexist Mistress. Heinlein’s depiction of women is bad. He tries and if this were kindergarten, that’d earn him some points. But we’re in the big leagues of literature, aren’t we?! So it’s just creepy and sexist: Practically every woman of note mentioned is described as beautiful. No ugly women allowed, apparently. When beautiful woman #1, Wyoming Knott, was introduced, I thought to myself, “Oh man. Dollars to donuts, main character sleeps with her.” For a bit, I thought I'd be owing myself some donuts but then in a surprise twist... she gets married into Mannie’s line marriage! You know that rule in theater about how if a gun is mentioned or introduced in act one of a play, it will go off by act three? I propose a similar rule for beautiful women. If a "beautiful" woman is mentioned in the beginning of the book then she will be slept with by the end. That or she’ll be an evil murderess. Sorry beautiful women out there. That’s your fate in life, apparently. I mean, despite narrator telling us that Loonie women are empowered and in charge of society, the book consistently depicts them in subordinate or domestic roles. Wyoming Knott is one of three main revolutionaries, right? The book suggests she's essential. Which is because she does… wait… what does she do? OH THAT’S RIGHT. NOTHING. She flirts, she spurs the men on. All other women are likewise depicted in this bizarre cheerleading role, or as mothers. Every woman (or girl!) of note eventually gets married, like it's the penultimate fate. Well what can ya say? It's a universal truth, right Jane Austen? This book is super hardcore about placing women on a pedestal. Heinlein, who obviously doesn’t get human nature and even less woman nature, seems to believe that this is a GOOD depiction of women. Like omg they’re so amazing and dynamic and look at this SPUNKY female, free with her kisses and sexuality and can take and dish out insults with the best of em. Please, God of Literature, spare me from such inadvertently Lovecraftian horrors. The spunky female stereotype of an “empowered woman” is so eerie. It’s outdated, at the least, and you know what else is? The technology! New Title: The Moon is an Outdated Mistress. This book is lauded for its supposedly accurate depiction of engineering and technology. Huh? What? You mean, like how one of the main characters uses a phone with like a hundred meter cord in order to talk to the computer? Don’t even give me that context of the past nonsense. We had radios back then. Is it really that hard to extrapolate that we’d have personal radios (i.e. cellphones) in the future? Or how about when the main character uses PUNCHCARDS to program a super computer? Hahahahaha. Or here’s a good one: nuclear-warhead interceptor missiles cost “thousands” of dollars. Do I buy a used car or hydrogen bomb? Choices, choices. That is the very definition of sci-fi failure. It’s a sci-fi writer’s job (particularly one writing in this hard sci-fi mode) to infer future ideologies and technologies. It’d be the equivalent of my writing a story set a hundred years in the future and having people still drive around in cars with internal combustion engines. Barring Mad Max style post-apocalypse, that is NOT going to happen. Or talking about a hamburger costing $5 a century from now. (In fact, for your information, at average rates of inflation, a $5 hamburger will cost $96 in a hundred years. Jeez.) In summary, is The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? Nope. The Moon is a Lenient, Naïve, Sexist, and Outdated Mistress. This book doesn’t grant insight into humanity, it doesn’t depict a realistic future, it doesn’t even entertain. And it's creepy. At any given point while I was reading this, I could have put it down for good and been content. Basically, The Moon is a Boring Mistress. No one wants a boring mistress – and that’s the truth.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    Fantastic! I won't be able to do this book justice in a review, but it really is one of the best I've ever read. The language is brilliant and makes you feel that you really are living on the moon. The Loonies are interesting and the plot kept me completely absorbed and desperate to hear what happened next throughout. One of the best revolutions I've ever had the pleasure to read. Highly recommended!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: Soap-box on the Moon Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Heinlein’s libertarian creed is TANSTAAFL ("There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"), and this book is probably the most complete expression of his political ideas about self-government, attempts to empower women while still being incredibly sexist and condescending, and some pretty good hard SF extrapolation of what a moon colony’s technology, politics and economy might be like. Oh yeah, and there happen The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: Soap-box on the Moon Originally posted at Fantasy Literature Heinlein’s libertarian creed is TANSTAAFL ("There ain't no such thing as a free lunch"), and this book is probably the most complete expression of his political ideas about self-government, attempts to empower women while still being incredibly sexist and condescending, and some pretty good hard SF extrapolation of what a moon colony’s technology, politics and economy might be like. Oh yeah, and there happens to be an omniscient, all-powerful AI named Mike who helps the Loonies stage their revolution against the oppressive Lunar Authority (can you say DEUS EX MACHINA?). The outcome is never really in doubt, so what we are given instead is a 300-page lecture on what Heinlein’s ideal society would be. Basically Heinlein thinks that most politicians are self-serving and corrupt (tough to argue with that), nothing important can be decided with more than three people, and intellectuals are useless yammerheads that just do a lot of talk-talk. However, for someone who doesn’t like talk-talk, I’d say about 85% of this book was just that, with almost a complete lack of action or tension and rest being an ultra-detailed description of how a revolution could be planned and executed. The critical flaw here is that none of the revolution would work without the comprehensive computer powers of AI Mike. The rest of the revolutionaries are simply depending on him to work his magic. So what does that say about the realizability of a libertarian utopia like the Free Luna State??? Deep down, I don’t think Heinlein really believes that any such society could ever come to fruition, since regular people just aren’t smart enough to pull it off. In the end, it’s pretty clear that Heinlein can only really be satisfied with two types of people in the world: The super-competent blue-collar engineer-type everyman that most of his protagonists are, and the super-intelligent, totally-sexy, and yet thoroughly subservient women that dig guys like that. The only thing better is a polyandry/group marriage society where you can be married to several of these delectable creatures! It’s too bad the story takes such a backseat to the political daydreaming, since Mike the AI is such a likeable super-computer and the Loonie society is carefully constructed. There are many readers who think this is probably Heinlein's last readable and thought-provoking novel before he went off the deep end into his libertarian, female-worship, crotchety old man stage, and I would certainly be in agreement.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a classic SF story of the moon fighting for its independence from Earth, with a lot of parallels to the American Revolution. Heinlein has a political conversation with himself here, definitely coming down on the side of Libertarianism, but also acknowledges & points out the holes in his arguments himself. I've read some rants about Heinlein pushing his politics & I disagree with them. I think he's doing more questioning than pushing & that leads to some fun with the character This is a classic SF story of the moon fighting for its independence from Earth, with a lot of parallels to the American Revolution. Heinlein has a political conversation with himself here, definitely coming down on the side of Libertarianism, but also acknowledges & points out the holes in his arguments himself. I've read some rants about Heinlein pushing his politics & I disagree with them. I think he's doing more questioning than pushing & that leads to some fun with the characters, especially Prof. Prof is the Heinlein wise elder character while Manny is the middle aged incarnation. Hazel (who shows up as the grandmother in The Rolling Stones) is the youthful, female version. Yes, Heinlein only has 1 main character, he just changes age & sex to suit the situation. I don't consider this a horrible flaw in his books, though. They're more situational, so a steady character actually helps them out. Prof has a wonderful political philosophy. He's a Rational Anarchist. Actually, that seems to pretty much be his take on life & I dare say it's more honest than most. He'll accept any laws you think you need & obey those he can, when he can, otherwise ignore them, but will pay up if caught. (Come to think of it, that's pretty much how I go through life.) His remarks to the new Lunar Congress on how to pay for government & what laws to make are well worth thinking about & certainly does point out the perennial problem they all have. One suggestion was they start by making laws of what the government could never do. Another was a house devoted to repealing poor laws. Stu's observations on governing were more amusing. He wants to name Prof king because that would protect people from their biggest enemy, themselves. How true! The woman with the list of proscribed items in the early Congress is a perfect example. Anyone with half a brain can't help but make the comparisons to our own society & the creeping repressiveness as we democratically vote away our rights. Heinlein points out another fallacy in government, one that he never explicitly states: What works for a small group often won't for a large one & that needs change over time. He makes this argument as a thread throughout the book: Manny's reflections from the future when Luna is much more populated & his other comments on its early days. The justice system of Terra versus that of Luna of Manny's time. It's important to note that Heinlein offers up no concrete answers, just a lot of questions, & he is pointing them out through a first person narrator. Manny is fairly reliable, but he's human & thus comfortable in the society he knows. There are multiple examples of how poorly this fits others - many of whom wind up paying the ultimate penalty. The language of the book is notable. Sentences are clipped with a lot of polyglot slang & - possibly most important - he popularized the word tanstaafl : "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". The link is to the Wikipedia article on it. I wish people would use & think of it more. Racial, religious, & national slang names are commonly used & are now considered politically incorrect, but they are used in such a way that no prejudice can possibly be attached. The moon is such a mix that such designations are merely descriptive. Marriage is another institution that receives a thorough cleansing of preconceptions & homosexuality is also briefly addressed. IOW, Heinlein has a lot of fun with Civil Rights. Since this book was originally published in 1966, that's not surprising, especially given his views on the matter, but this book was well before he almost died & he hasn't gone overboard yet. The story is quite dated as far as technology goes, but that didn't hurt it much. There are tape recorders, wall phones, & computer punch cards, but the overall experience of the moon is well done. Mike, the self-aware computer is fun, too. Not particularly realistic, but enjoyable & played his part well. All in all, it's a must-read for anyone exploring SF. It is a classic & is a hell of a lot of fun, but gives plenty of food for thought, too. Wikipedia has a so-so write up on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    “Chaotic crossed with psychotic.” Disappointed. I read this story fifty years ago and loved it. On re-reading it now, I found it not only trite, but disturbing. This is going to be long, but I must justify dropping a former five-star rating to two. (I gave a star back for literary merit. Heinlein was a great storyteller.) “He really did think he was Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft … nor would I swear he was not; ‘reality’ is a slippery notion.” The star of the story is Mike, more properly Mycrof “Chaotic crossed with psychotic.” Disappointed. I read this story fifty years ago and loved it. On re-reading it now, I found it not only trite, but disturbing. This is going to be long, but I must justify dropping a former five-star rating to two. (I gave a star back for literary merit. Heinlein was a great storyteller.) “He really did think he was Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft … nor would I swear he was not; ‘reality’ is a slippery notion.” The star of the story is Mike, more properly Mycroft, a “gigantic” self-aware computer. “I will accept any rules you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” Professor de la Paz is Heinlein’s anarchistic Yoda; and Manuel is everyman. This book is fictionalized propaganda for the kind of ugly libertarianism advocated by Aleister Crowley and Ayn Rand, as practiced by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc. The Prof declares himself a rational anarchist: The ends justify the means. Murder and theft are okay, if done by your side. If the other side does it, it’s an atrocity. Sound familiar? “I stopped three paces away to look her up and down and whistle. She held her pose, then nodded to thank me but abruptly—bored with compliments, no doubt.” Misogynic. Even for the sixties, Heinlein is quite the sexist. Evidence also of the incest and pedophilia themes which would dominate his later works. “Ludmilla is a sweet little thing, just fifteen and pregnant first time.” “She’s below the age of consent. Statutory rape. “Oh, bloody! No such thing. Women her age are married or ought to be. Stu, no rape in Luna. None. Men won’t permit.” Did he believe that? “One first thing learned about Luna, back with first shiploads of convicts, was that zero pressure was place for good manners.” Quibbles: Manual has a pseudo-Slavic accent which carries into the narrative. But no one else, not even his family, have accents anything like it. “started tub” Admitted water shortage on moon, yet they take baths. “Sundown Tuesday to sundown Wednesday, local time Garden of Eden (zone minus-two, Terra) was the Sabbath. So we ate early in Terran north-hemisphere summer months.” (No, you’d eat later because the sun sets later in the summer.) “Easier to get people to hate than to get them to love.” One positive theme: race is no big deal. Most Loonies are mixed race and proud of it. The United States is moving that direction, if the white and black racists would let go of their real or imagined privileged positions. “Parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest.” The backstory economics make no sense: prisoners are transported to the moon to grow wheat for export to earth. “All Terran satellites could accept high speed as sixty-to-one.” Slower than a dial-up modem. Remember them? Things he guessed wrong: computers; his were still programmed with punch cards; apparently had no solid-state memory. (He shouldn’t have missed that one: semiconductor memory had already been invented by 1966. In fact, Moore’s Law was written in 1965.) “Got empty memory bank?” “Yes, Man. Ten to the eighth-bits capacity.” (A mere 100 megabits, not bytes. 100 megabyte chips were available in 2002.) Wireless communication. “needed to stay on phone and longest cord around ….” Things he guessed right: solar panels, “escape-speed induction catapult.” “Tanstaafl. ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ Anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    I feel like I just took a psychedelic trip culturally through the 60s in a dream of the life in the future. I found the book to be very reflective of the culture and philosophies of the 60s projected to the 2000s. In some ways Heinlein was ahead of his time. I found myself impressed with his treatment and characterization of the sentient AI. There was a lot of unexpected philosophy in the storytelling where they are discussion the behaviors of crowds, and people and greed and motivations. I thou I feel like I just took a psychedelic trip culturally through the 60s in a dream of the life in the future. I found the book to be very reflective of the culture and philosophies of the 60s projected to the 2000s. In some ways Heinlein was ahead of his time. I found myself impressed with his treatment and characterization of the sentient AI. There was a lot of unexpected philosophy in the storytelling where they are discussion the behaviors of crowds, and people and greed and motivations. I thought he made very good points and observations about such systems. Here's the thing, and I don't necessarily consider it (in its own right) a criticism. I think Heinlein wanted to write a story about governing systems. As a science fiction writer, he needed to put the story in space. This came across as relatively superficial. The scifi elements did necessitate the need for a sentient AI who could perform almost godlike tasks in order to ensure a successful outcome. The scifi elements were also part of why it seems like some kind of drug infused dream of the 60s than an actual scifi novel. The novel was irrevocably anachronistic. (view spoiler)[Communication with the computer was via wired telephone, the end of the novel has Mike losing his sentience and in demonstrating that its sentience is gone, he no longer accepts voice input (as if voice recognition was an indication of sentience), catapults were considered a viable form of delivery and logistics, for some inexplicable reason lower gravity resulted in much longer life (I guess the heart theoretically doesn't work as hard because of gravity but 100s of years?), etc (hide spoiler)] . But technology wasn't the only anachronistic element. OMG the treatment and characterizations of women and "others" (people not white males) as Valerie says "God bless him" (Heinlein). A seemingly confused soul I fear. A chauvinistic man who saw himself as an open-minded, broad thinker and perhaps even a visionary (don't think so). Overall I enjoyed the book in spite of its flaws. Heinlein's libertarian views, counter-feminist and polyamorous idiosyncrasies not withstanding. To be honest it was a strange cross-section of sophomoric (especially with women and to some extent libertarian) views and some advanced, sophisticated thinking and an interesting examination of governing systems. Though the subject matter may be more common today, this book written in 1965, seems to be original, innovative and ahead of it's time. 3.5+ Stars Edited to Add: I listened to this on Audible and followed along with a paperback. Narrated by Lloyd James, the performance was good. I think the interpretation of Manuel O'Kelly with a Russian accent was strange, but it worked.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    I read Stranger in a Strange Land twice. I loathed it with a passion the first time I read it, sometimes in the Eighties. I tried again in 2008 when it was a selection for one of my GoodReads groups. I thought maybe I was missing something, so I decided to go for the re-read. It was just as awful the second time. Because of my experience, I vowed I would never read Heinlein again. Several people told me that Stranger in a Strange Land wasn't really his best work and that I should try The Moon Is I read Stranger in a Strange Land twice. I loathed it with a passion the first time I read it, sometimes in the Eighties. I tried again in 2008 when it was a selection for one of my GoodReads groups. I thought maybe I was missing something, so I decided to go for the re-read. It was just as awful the second time. Because of my experience, I vowed I would never read Heinlein again. Several people told me that Stranger in a Strange Land wasn't really his best work and that I should try The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress instead. After listening to the discussion on the Sword & Laser podcast about this book, I decided to give it a try. (A $4.95 sale at Audible really decided it for me.) I will hereby vow never to read anything by Heinlein again. You will never convince me to read Starship Troopers or The Puppet Masters or any other Heinlein book. There just aren't enough reading hours in a lifetime to spend trying to discover why this author is considered to be a science fiction great. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress started off promising. A computer repair guy learns that the computer he's working on has become sentient and they become good friends. Computer guy gets involved with revolutionaries and computer becomes a key figure in the revolution. However, the novel quickly digresses into lecturing about politics, gender relations, economics, and a plethora of other topics. It was a primer on revolution. There was a lot of talking, but not much action. Even if the book were cut in half, there would still be too much exposition. The only thing that brought this book up from one star to two for me was the narrator. He did a great job with the voice of Manuel and with the other characters. He made the unbearable slightly tolerable.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kelly McCubbin

    This is quite possibly Heinlein's most politically charged book. People speak of Stranger in a Strange Land as being socially revolutionary, but this book is both that (polygamous marriage to form extended families, murder generally allowed, but insults to women punishable by death) and politically charged (Libertarian, Libertarian, Libertarian, though not exactly that kind of loopy American Libertarian Party kind, but a kind based more strictly on a dismantling of governmental power). It is a co This is quite possibly Heinlein's most politically charged book. People speak of Stranger in a Strange Land as being socially revolutionary, but this book is both that (polygamous marriage to form extended families, murder generally allowed, but insults to women punishable by death) and politically charged (Libertarian, Libertarian, Libertarian, though not exactly that kind of loopy American Libertarian Party kind, but a kind based more strictly on a dismantling of governmental power). It is a constant flow of political ideas, many of which you'll want to discard as unworkable or even offensive, but there is real power in Heinein's willingness to go out on a limb and build a radical scoiety and try, within the bounds of his Luna, to make it work. When the Professor says, "In writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtue of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do. No conscript armies... no interference however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation... no involuntary taxation," there is real power there.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    As cynical as I have become about revolutions, this novel managed to warm my heart. This story about Loonies (residents of Luna i.e. the Moon) rebelling against Earth government is so well written it is really a crime to miss it. As a big a crime as not starting a revolution when revolution is due. If you want to feed your inner rebel with a delicious story of lunar colony rebelling against mother Earth, then what are you waiting for? If you’re feeling philosophical, then this might be a good no As cynical as I have become about revolutions, this novel managed to warm my heart. This story about Loonies (residents of Luna i.e. the Moon) rebelling against Earth government is so well written it is really a crime to miss it. As a big a crime as not starting a revolution when revolution is due. If you want to feed your inner rebel with a delicious story of lunar colony rebelling against mother Earth, then what are you waiting for? If you’re feeling philosophical, then this might be a good novel for you. It raises a lot of interesting question. Once you start reading this one, you’ll see it is not really about action (but there is a bit of that so don’t worry, it’s not one of those novels where nothing happens). There are many dialogues in there that will make you think. You want to start a revolution? Why, here is a great handbook for you! Seriously thought, this is one of my favourites by Heinlein. It is political SF at its best. Besides being a great handbook on staging a revolution, this novel has others things going for it. Let’s start with the setting. Luna Is A Harsh Mistress is set on Moon. No surprise there! What is somewhat surprising is the incredibly detail with which Heinlein describes this Lunar society. The Moon is a colony of Earth and as such has a very different culture, language and just about everything. The way the writer set the story and the care he gave to developing this setting is bloody brilliant. So, the setting is pretty awesome. Moreover, the story is entertaing and high paced while giving you enough food for the thought. What else? Another great thing about this novel is that it has such as a fantastic cast of characters. There is Mike- and he’s a doll. I don't recall any other A.I or computer character that was so loveable. Yet, Mike is definitely my favourite character, but other (human) characters are not any less fascinating, for example there's Miguel. This slightly cynical loonie ( an ingenious term coined to describe a resident of Moon) is for most part a pretty easy-going guy despite the fact that he had his hand cut off and replaced with a tool in order to make a living. I remember this premise being used in some third rate Hollywood movie and it really annoyed me, how they stole that idea like that. But let's back to the characters: Professor Bernardo de la Paz is there for smart ideas and dialogues. Mimi the matriarch was also a lovely character. I'll stop here, although there are more of them that are worthy of mentioning. There are many aspects of this novel that make it such a great read. It is a very thought provoking novel, though it may not seem that way at first. Sure it is the story about a rebellion against government and there is some action, but another thing you will get is a lot of interesting lessons about human societies wrapped up in nice dialogues. Dialogues, you say? Yes, many of them between an AI and human beings. I did say there is a fantastic cast of characters in this one. Accomplishing a complete racial integrity in a natural way is something that many novels still fail to do, but this novel does it. That’s exceptional considering the time when this novel was published. The concept of line marriages is something that was developed nicely and it fit in with character’s development. Loonies feel very much real both as individuals and members of society. By that I mean they are very convincingly portrayed, not just as individuals but as society as well. Now, some may say that it is kind of convenient for a Moon revolution to have a computer that basically controls every aspect of life on Moon on its side. Well, I can’t deny that but that doesn’t mean that is the only reason why our AI is there. He ( I can’t make myself to call AI it) does help the revolution but his motivation actually makes sense. Heinlein wrote him in a very convincing way, right from his ‘awakening’, through his character development and finally to him becoming a well-rounded character with unique characteristics and a sense of humour. Sure, in our world today, a SF author wouldn’t need to explain what AI stands for. However, all these descriptions that wouldn’t be needed today don’t really make Mike’s characterization boring. They also don’t make the novel dated. Maybe they just feel a bit out of place, but that's all. Back to my point. I don’t see anything wrong with our AI being conveniently there. Sometimes in life, we do get a little lucky. I didn’t see that as weakness in a plot. Political ideas expressed in this novel are often the kind that make one really think. The idea of writing a constitution in negative was a very refreshing one. There is a lot of interesting quotes to be found in this novel, for example: "In writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtue of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do. No conscript armies... no interference however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation... no involuntary taxation." I think this novel can also be viewed as a warning against government control and colonization. Take this quote for example: "In past history popularly elected governments have been no better and sometimes far worse than overt tyrannies." Well, as depressing as it sounds, that’s actually true. One only needs to remember a few history lessons ( Hitler, Stalin) to realize the horrible truth behind this sentence. Just because a government was elected doesn’t make it a good one. Injustice is often our reality and it is injustice that fuels the rebellion/revolution in this book. Every government is an organism that defends itself, an organism whose sole purpose is to sustain itself…and is it any wonder that it can’t do much good? Is there such a thing as a good government or is it always a choice between lesser evil? This novel does raise some really interesting questions, but in a way that is anything but overbearing. I suppose there is nothing extraordinary in stating that high government control often results in suppressed citizens. What is remarkable is writing a novel that expresses various issues with government control intelligently, using dialogue, while at the same time fluently talking about various other subjects (for example what does it mean to be human?) and having a decent plot and set of characters. What is remarkable is the novel itself. It is interesting to read, the plot develops well and quickly, there are no boring parts and all of the political and philosophical ideas are effortlessly included. What are you waiting for?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    I’ve read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress twice in twenty years. Two decades between readings and it still holds up surprisingly well. Heinlein’s Lunar Revolution, his benevolent AI, Mycroft (aka Mike), and Professor de la Paz’s ideas for government were all exactly how I remembered them. Yet I found that my favourite part of the rereading experience was the tale it told about me. When I read this book the first time, I was an idealistic youth who believed that change was possible and worth fightin I’ve read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress twice in twenty years. Two decades between readings and it still holds up surprisingly well. Heinlein’s Lunar Revolution, his benevolent AI, Mycroft (aka Mike), and Professor de la Paz’s ideas for government were all exactly how I remembered them. Yet I found that my favourite part of the rereading experience was the tale it told about me. When I read this book the first time, I was an idealistic youth who believed that change was possible and worth fighting for, maybe even worth dying for. I disdained inequality, injustice, tyranny, blah, blah, blah, and I wanted to do something to fix the problems I saw. I went on to do many things about those problems over the next twenty years. It didn’t do a damn bit of good. So now I am a cynical man who desires change as greatly as I ever did but knows it is impossible, and that the fight is increasingly futile. I still disdain inequality, injustice, tyranny, along with capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, yada, yada yada, and I’ve given up trying to fix the problems. Now I just do the little things for myself and those I love, mostly to make myself feel good, and the rest of the world can be damned. Not doing anything should do as much good as all the things I did for twenty years (I say this, but then our plan is to do aid work somewhere in the next couple years; don't take my cynicism too seriously). The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the same book it was twenty years ago, but back then I saw it as a call to arms. Now I see it as a flight of fancy, a pure act of wishful thinking, a revolution the way I wish it could be but know it never will. Still, there’s nothing wrong with an act of pure imagination now and then, even if the hopefulness is play and only serves to underline my deep hopelessness.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a classic SF story of the moon fighting for its independence from Earth, with a lot of parallels to the American Revolution. Heinlein has a political conversation with himself here, definitely coming down on the side of Libertarianism, but also acknowledges & points out the holes in his arguments himself. I've read some rants about Heinlein pushing his politics & I disagree with them. I think he's doing more questioning than pushing & that leads to some fun with the character This is a classic SF story of the moon fighting for its independence from Earth, with a lot of parallels to the American Revolution. Heinlein has a political conversation with himself here, definitely coming down on the side of Libertarianism, but also acknowledges & points out the holes in his arguments himself. I've read some rants about Heinlein pushing his politics & I disagree with them. I think he's doing more questioning than pushing & that leads to some fun with the characters, especially Prof. Prof is the Heinlein wise elder character while Manny is the middle aged incarnation. Hazel (who shows up as the grandmother in The Rolling Stones) is the youthful, female version. Yes, Heinlein only has 1 main character, he just changes age & sex to suit the situation. I don't consider this a horrible flaw in his books, though. They're more situational, so a steady character actually helps them out. Prof has a wonderful political philosophy. He's a Rational Anarchist. Actually, that seems to pretty much be his take on life & I dare say it's more honest than most. He'll accept any laws you think you need & obey those he can, when he can, otherwise ignore them, but will pay up if caught. (Come to think of it, that's pretty much how I go through life.) His remarks to the new Lunar Congress on how to pay for government & what laws to make are well worth thinking about & certainly does point out the perennial problem they all have. One suggestion was they start by making laws of what the government could never do. Another was a house devoted to repealing poor laws. Stu's observations on governing were more amusing. He wants to name Prof king because that would protect people from their biggest enemy, themselves. How true! The woman with the list of proscribed items in the early Congress is a perfect example. Anyone with half a brain can't help but make the comparisons to our own society & the creeping repressiveness as we democratically vote away our rights. Heinlein points out another fallacy in government, one that he never explicitly states: What works for a small group often won't for a large one & that needs change over time. He makes this argument as a thread throughout the book: Manny's reflections from the future when Luna is much more populated & his other comments on its early days. The justice system of Terra versus that of Luna of Manny's time. It's important to note that Heinlein offers up no concrete answers, just a lot of questions, & he is pointing them out through a first person narrator. Manny is fairly reliable, but he's human & thus comfortable in the society he knows. There are multiple examples of how poorly this fits others - many of whom wind up paying the ultimate penalty. The language of the book is notable. Sentences are clipped with a lot of polyglot slang & - possibly most important - he popularized the word tanstaafl : "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch". The link is to the Wikipedia article on it. I wish people would use & think of it more. Racial, religious, & national slang names are commonly used & are now considered politically incorrect, but they are used in such a way that no prejudice can possibly be attached. The moon is such a mix that such designations are merely descriptive. Marriage is another institution that receives a thorough cleansing of preconceptions & homosexuality is also briefly addressed. IOW, Heinlein has a lot of fun with Civil Rights. Since this book was originally published in 1966, that's not surprising, especially given his views on the matter, but this book was well before he almost died & he hasn't gone overboard yet. The Downside Heinlein attempted to give women a bigger role, but they were just homemakers in too many ways. Still, he deserves a nod for trying pretty hard. The story is quite dated as far as technology goes, but that didn't hurt it much. There are tape recorders, wall phones, & computer punch cards, but the overall experience of the moon is well done. Mike, the self-aware computer is fun, too. Not particularly realistic, but enjoyable & played his part well. Read by Lloyd James, downloaded from my public library. James does Manny with a horrible accent, but I lived with it, although the teary Manny voice is even worse. I liked Mike's & the rest are pretty good except Stu. He had such a thick French accent that I couldn't understand him sometimes, especially when he's pronouncing Russian or other languages. This is definitely a case of the reader acting too much. Worse, he pronounces some words & names in ways I wouldn't. He pronounces 'Prof' as 'Proof'. Yuck. All in all, it's a must-read for anyone exploring SF. It is a classic & is a hell of a lot of fun, but gives plenty of food for thought, too. Just what an SF classic is supposed to do. Wikipedia has a so-so write up on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon... This gets 4 stars only because of the reader. Otherwise, as I point out in my review of the paperback, it's a 5 star read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The opening chapter of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress presents an intriguing character study; Mike is a computer who wants to grow up. Mike doesn't understand humor or human nature but he wants to learn and he's got a willing teacher in the form of his assigned engineer, the clever but casual Mannie. Sound interesting? Do not get your hopes up (DNGYHU!) Because this novel isn't about Mike's quest to make sense of humanity, it's about a libertarian revolution on the moon! (Liberty! Economic freedom The opening chapter of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress presents an intriguing character study; Mike is a computer who wants to grow up. Mike doesn't understand humor or human nature but he wants to learn and he's got a willing teacher in the form of his assigned engineer, the clever but casual Mannie. Sound interesting? Do not get your hopes up (DNGYHU!) Because this novel isn't about Mike's quest to make sense of humanity, it's about a libertarian revolution on the moon! (Liberty! Economic freedom! Extended-family polygamous communes!) And for this revolution to get off the ground it's going to need a supercomputer to lead it. Before you know it, he's organizing a secret phone system and issuing clandestine proclamations to revolutionaries who think he's human. Kids these days grow up so fast! But maybe it's OK that the child-with-the-microprocessor-brain plot-line gets cut short; revolutions can be fun and who doesn't like a little politics with their science-fiction? DNGYHU! Because until final act, this is the least exciting uprising since The Whiskey Rebellion (which featured shockingly few drunk battles.) Mike the supercomputer can control all electronic systems on the moon, generate infinite money and maneuver guidance-outfitted asteroids with the precision of a master pool player. The imperious government forces don't stand a chance and the gritty lunar rebels barely matter. Mike could have won a bloodless revolution on his own; let me reiterate that he's a super-genius who can generate infinite money and control all electronic systems on the moon. The bad guys don't win a single battle and never suspect the identity of the rebel commander. But even if the revolution is a let down, that's not the point right? Surely Heinlein scores some clever political points defending his ideology? DNGYHU! As mentioned earlier, the purported superiority of the Moon's wild-west polygamous society isn't what powers their victory over the government. And when Mannie is quizzed about how Lunar society's mob-rule ethic functions, his reply is basically that it just seems to work. Heinlein isn't even interested in giving the novel's antagonists (corrupt government officials and mealy-mouthed moralizers) much of a literary lashing; they tend to be nameless, faceless, personality-less props. Most of them don't even qualify for straw-man status because they don't receive any dialogue. Near the novel's end, Mannie does have one dick-swinging standoff with a self-important busy-body during a council of revolutionary leaders; it's a clash of wills that injects the story with some much needed drama and is the closest the story comes to passionate politics. Alas, a few paragraphs later, the busy-body is tossed out on his busy-keister never to be seen again. Paradoxically, Heinlein's most adroit political observation regards the greatest weakness of hardcore libertarianism that, much like communism, it is virtually impossible to put into practice. For in the end even the freedom-loving moon-folk bail on the notion 'That government is best which governs least.' This final-page turnabout makes Heinlein's lukewarm support of libertarianism fit better, but makes for boring ideological conflict. This novel is more interested in the technical details. Mike and Mannie spend countless pages detailing an undercover phone-system, picking when and where to bombard the Earth, organizing their underlings and figuring ways to avoid detection. Heinlein was a naval engineer and a radioman, so it's fitting that he writes most comfortably about communications and mechanical systems. And perhaps it's for the best that Heinlein's focus is on the mechanical over the personal as his writing betrays a worldview that is, at turns, psychologically incompetent or odious. A few examples; Mannie's love-interest Wyoh, a purportedly intelligent, practical woman, makes rape jokes around men she barely knows. Africa is described as a place where human life has never been valued. Mannie gets the hots for a preteen girl and employs his family to help him stalk her. A group of lunar citizens pay an exorbitant fee to have an impartial judge rule on a matter that should be obvious. Mannie makes the worst baseball bet of all time. But for all my complaints this review is long for a reason, this is a hugely ambitious work that touches on a multitude of themes, technical ideas and arguments. Trying to encapsulate a majority (gibbous?) of the book's theses has proven one hell of a mental exercise. Heinlein may have aimed for the moon and missed by miles, but at least he enforced one useful acronym. DNGYHU! edited 3/2/2017

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I read this first when I was young...we're talking young-young here, and my memories of it were of a sort of space opera. I'd remembered it along with many of Heinlein's "teen" or youth books. When I mentioned this it was pointed out to me (rather forcefully by some) that my memories were...incomplete. Well, they were. While a young reader will see a "space rebellion" here the story itself is a well written tale of political science and human nature. Heinlein gives a very well done debate and/or I read this first when I was young...we're talking young-young here, and my memories of it were of a sort of space opera. I'd remembered it along with many of Heinlein's "teen" or youth books. When I mentioned this it was pointed out to me (rather forcefully by some) that my memories were...incomplete. Well, they were. While a young reader will see a "space rebellion" here the story itself is a well written tale of political science and human nature. Heinlein gives a very well done debate and/or picture of humans at their best and their worst. I also suspect that we see some of his own frustration with certain parts of society. The book is not only good and enthralling for itself but there are side issues that are just as interesting. For example the idea of future 21st century science and technology from the viewpoint of 1966 (phones still need cords for example but there is a self aware computer). While Mr. Heinlein and I would certainly not have agreed on all points I think we would have agreed on the most basic points of government and it's "uses". I think this book deserves my highest recommendation. And it is (as noted before me of course) a science fiction classic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    4.5 My first experience of Heinlein hadn’t been the best. I did appreciate Starship Troopers, but didn’t love it. This is not the case with this novel - far from it. Where to start? There is So much. What seems at first a straightforward science fiction story is in fact a mixture of different genres, combining revolution, politics, philosophy, adventure and suspense, all this seasoned with historical, scientific and literary references, especially from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With so many elements 4.5 My first experience of Heinlein hadn’t been the best. I did appreciate Starship Troopers, but didn’t love it. This is not the case with this novel - far from it. Where to start? There is So much. What seems at first a straightforward science fiction story is in fact a mixture of different genres, combining revolution, politics, philosophy, adventure and suspense, all this seasoned with historical, scientific and literary references, especially from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With so many elements, the whole could have felt disjoined but Heinlein pulls it off, even if some sections are rather verbose :O) The book starts with Mike self-awareness and his friendship with Mannie, which is lovely to witness. Heinlein uses Mannie as his narrator, not just because he is a likeable character, but also because he is intelligent, honest and decent, and so easy to identify with. Throughout the book, we are introduced to various characters, from complex main ones to supporting cast (view spoiler)[the main trio is great and could be seen as having a symbolic meaning: Prof as the Head, Wyoh as the Heart and Mannie as the Hands. Mike could even be the Soul. (hide spoiler)] . Since Heinlein wrote this book in the 1960s, I did fear that this future world would feel quite dated, but in fact it holds its own very well. Luna is an interesting setting, with a fascinating culture and social structure, all potentially waiting to explode. Loonies even have their ‘own’ language: a kind of pidgin, mixing English with other languages, such as Russian. The portrayal of women is interesting with some progressive aspects and others less so. Connected to this is the unusual concept of family. Loonies have adapted to their circumstances and demographic, and thus invented their own social structure and rules in order to survive. And then the revolution. Just look at the date the author chose for his story - 2076 - and that should give you a clue (think 300 years prior). I did expect a lot of political and philosophical discourse, and they are present, but these are wide enough and from such an engaging angle that I did not mind them, and even enjoyed quite a few. So yes I did enjoy this novel. Heinlein not only created an entertaining story but a though-provoking one where he asks the reader to think outside the box, not jump at conclusion, or discard any idea even the apparently foolish ones. Oh and There really Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch :O)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    My favorite Heinlein novel - a great revolution story, a great AI story, and a great Hard Sci-Fi, if the science in question is political. What I learned from this book: 1. History bends and melts over time. 2. The first AI we meet might not be intentional. 3. Throwing rocks can get serious over interplanetary distances. 4. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

  28. 5 out of 5

    YouKneeK

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a classic science fiction novel by Heinlein, published in the 60’s. My first experience with Heinlein was about a year ago when I read Stranger in a Strange Land and that was quite a mixed bag. I had enjoyed the first half but hated the second half which I remember as being primarily monologues and mysticism. I liked this book much better. I kept waiting for the monologues, but happily they didn’t appear. There’s still plenty of social and political commentary, so The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a classic science fiction novel by Heinlein, published in the 60’s. My first experience with Heinlein was about a year ago when I read Stranger in a Strange Land and that was quite a mixed bag. I had enjoyed the first half but hated the second half which I remember as being primarily monologues and mysticism. I liked this book much better. I kept waiting for the monologues, but happily they didn’t appear. There’s still plenty of social and political commentary, some of it interesting and some of it bizarre, and a good dose of sexism and such. However, with books from this era, I’m usually able to just acknowledge some of the problematic attitudes and then move on and focus on other aspects of the story, as long as there are other aspects that I can enjoy. The book is set on Earth’s moon, in a future where the moon is inhabited. Earth exiles criminals there, and those criminals and their descendants have made lives for themselves. The people of Earth consider themselves rulers of the moon and its resources, exploiting them without proper consideration for their future. The Luna residents want to overthrow Earth and become independent. Some of the leaders of this rebellion include a computer technician named Manuel, a professor, and a sentient computer named Mike. I thought the story was very interesting, and I especially enjoyed Mike, the AI that thinks he has a sense of humor. The story itself had a bit of humor and I laughed out loud a few times while reading. I also liked Manuel pretty well. My interest did start to taper off a little toward the end, and I had a few complaints here and there, but overall this was a solid four-star read for me. I have a couple spoilerish comments that I’ll have to put in spoiler tags… (view spoiler)[One thing that did get on my nerves was all the lying and manipulation. I recognize that it was completely realistic as far as real-world politics go, and that maybe there was no other realistic way for our “good guys” to win their independence, but I like it best when the heroes in a book take the high road. Because of this, I wasn’t too crazy for Prof who was the main perpetrator of the lying and manipulation, and I liked Man better for being a little bewildered and annoyed by it all. I enjoyed reading about an AI who was likeable and didn’t get out of control and have to be shut down. I was sorry that he was dead/silent by the end, but I preferred that to the “Evil AI” route I was half expecting. I did get a little uncomfortable with how freely he used Man’s voice to get things done when he was unavailable, but that was offset by his affection for his first and best friend. Also, as we were told, he seemed to be developing a bit of a conscience. (hide spoiler)]

  29. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is considered by many to be Heinlein's best novel, an opinion which I don't altogether share, though it may well be Heinlein's best Heinlein novel... if you follow the thread. (I've read it two or three times, and just found out that the audio version is the perfect length for a drive from Tampa to Cincinnati.) In it he explains how to stage a revolution, win a war, communicate with alien species like artificial intelligences and women, organize and run a government The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is considered by many to be Heinlein's best novel, an opinion which I don't altogether share, though it may well be Heinlein's best Heinlein novel... if you follow the thread. (I've read it two or three times, and just found out that the audio version is the perfect length for a drive from Tampa to Cincinnati.) In it he explains how to stage a revolution, win a war, communicate with alien species like artificial intelligences and women, organize and run a government and a society and a culture and an economy in a hostile environment, and quite a bit more. His take on socialism and Libertarianism is quite convincing, and despite -long- stretches of philosophizing and theorizing he keeps the story to the forefront, crackling along throughout. I grew a bit impatient with the faux-Russian accent the performer employed in this audio rendition, but that didn't detract too much from the story. Some of his assertions seem to contradict each other at times, some of his speculations are perhaps a bit dated, and some of his beliefs are no longer entirely politically correct, but I still believe him to be the best science fiction writer the field ever produced, and this just may well be his best novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Matt

    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is like a comfortable old shoe. I've read the thing multiple times - the first when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I know every nook and cranny of the book; however, like an old shoe, it's no longer shiny and new - it even stinks a little bit. Fortunately, like an old shoe, it feels good reading it and that is enough. The story is about a handful of souls, well, really two - Manuel (a.k.a., Man) and Mike (a.k.a., Mycroft Holmes) - who are drawn into a rebellion again The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is like a comfortable old shoe. I've read the thing multiple times - the first when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I know every nook and cranny of the book; however, like an old shoe, it's no longer shiny and new - it even stinks a little bit. Fortunately, like an old shoe, it feels good reading it and that is enough. The story is about a handful of souls, well, really two - Manuel (a.k.a., Man) and Mike (a.k.a., Mycroft Holmes) - who are drawn into a rebellion against Earth. What's neat about the whole thing is that Mike is, in fact, not a person at all. He is a H.O.L.M.E.S. ("High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor") Mark 4, a super computer that has unexpectedly become conscious and self-aware. The relationship between Mike and Man is well worth the price of admission. And as far as characters go, the real star of the show. He moves from playful, almost childlike to a mature well-adjusted adult in just a few hundred pages. Where the story suffers, I think, is in the fairly linear plot. There are no questions where things are headed from almost the get-go. Moreover, the book shamelessly co-opts from the American Revolution - even going so far as to steal from the Declaration of Independence. (Even the dates line up against 1776.) The book is, at its heart, a light-hearted romp but that's OK. Sometimes you want to slip on that old shoe. Three and a half stars rounded down to three. Even the big nostalgia boost couldn't get me to bump it up higher.

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