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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A.…

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (original 1966; edition 1997)

by Robert A. Heinlein

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8,180147631 (4.14)334
Title:The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Orb Books (1997), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1966)

  1. 152
    The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: A different moon, a different anti-authoritarian community, but the same experience of thinking about other ways to run human societies
  2. 21
    Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (JFDR)
  3. 11
    Illusions of Tranquility [short fiction] by Brendan DuBois (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: This short story puts a new twist on Heinlein's libertarian moon colony.
  4. 00
    Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson (bertilak)
  5. 11
    Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson (enrique_molinero)
  6. 00
    Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe (psybre)
    psybre: Lunar mayhem, and not just due to rock and roll, either.
  7. 01
    The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the seeds of revolution.
  8. 01
    Pallas by L. Neil Smith (enrique_molinero)
  9. 01
    Moon of Mutiny by Lester Del Rey (infiniteletters)
  10. 02
    The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin (MyriadBooks)

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» See also 334 mentions

English (142)  Swedish (2)  Slovak (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
Set in the future of 2075, the moon has a penal colony built on it for the Earth's incorrigibles. A computer that has become "self-aware" helps a small group of inmates turn the colony into a sovereign nation based on the Moon. The nations of the Earth try to quell the insurrection but fail miserably. Eventually, independence is achieved, with massive help from the computer in question. Afterwards, the main human protagonist finds out that the "self-aware" computer has reverted back to a normal computer. ( )
  krgulick | Jun 19, 2019 |
"For Bog's sake, TANSTAAFL!" [For God's sake, There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!]

Full of wonderful wit. The moon is the site of a penal colony, forcing its society to adjust to the realities of a harsh environment and gender imbalance. "As free as air" isn't an idiom in this world. What transpires is a perfect breeding ground for Heinlein's political and social commentary. The characters are also memorable. Interestingly, for all the criticism of Heinlein's sexism in this novel, the moon acts as an equaliser: the paucity of women add to their worth, and a conflict with Earth dispenses responsibility without discrimination.

At times the story dragged on with no discernible progress. I expected to be rewarded with a surprise ending. Since it never came, I knock off a star.

Don't read The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress for the science, you'll find it dated and bland. Read it for the ideology, wit, sharp dialogue, and the most human of computers. ( )
  jigarpatel | May 10, 2019 |
A 5-star story with 1-star female characters. Typical of Heinlein and of the sci-fi of the era. Hell of a storyteller just wish his vision of women wasn't a fantasy out of an adolescent heterosexual male mind. He also gets a bit didactic with his Libertarian philosophy. ( )
1 vote Zoes_Human | Jan 19, 2019 |
This classic has been on my list for a bit, so I figured it was a good time to give it a go.

Very interesting read. The reader makes Manny sound like a cross between an old fashion Russian and a Latinx person. Which fits, since he's as much genetic mutt as most US citizens. Of course, that also factors into what the colony on the moon would be after so many generations as well.

I loved the growth of Mike through the first two parts of the book. I even enjoyed his definition of orgasm and how he experienced it.

The more I read the book, the more I SWEAR I've seen this story line before. Obviously, whoever wrote it that I read before followed Heinlein's plot but changed the characters. For some reason, I keep going back to a Orson Scott Card book, [The Worthing Saga] but I know that's not right.

The professor reminds me of someone in life that I don't much care for. Maybe that was why when we reach the end, his story line didn't catch me as much. Manny definitely reminds me a lot of myself. He doesn't really want to be in charge, just wants to do his job, yet people keep forcing him to the front to lead. He keeps dropping back, they keep shoving him forward.

Very good book. I'm tempted to buy it in all its forms now... ( )
  gilroy | Dec 27, 2018 |
The year is 1966. Yes, I know the book is set in 2076. Yet, it is about as mid-sixties as they come. Its themes are: the fascination with the moon, space travel and computers; commune-like family structures and the role of women; and rebellion, politics and authority. Its is written in a fake Russian accent; it ceaselessly objectifies and sexualizes women; and much of it is spent in boring bureaucratic meetings.

Heinlein's main interest is the revolution. How is it started, organized, how does it spread. Why do people join, who are its leaders. What happens when you succeed, how can you get your own people and the other nations to accept the new order. He spends a lot of time on organizing communication, propaganda, manipulating public opinion, keeping political control while maintaining the semblance of democracy.

The first half of the book goes fairly fast, with the setting up and carrying out of the revolution. We meet Mike, the sentient computer, whose personality evolves from attention-seeking child to rebellion leader. The pace slows down in the second half. While we still see a lot of action, much of it is bogged down with the tedious meetings, political maneauvering, and technical details.

Here comes major beef number one. If you are writing science fiction, get your science right! The farming on Luna, so central to the plot, is simply not explained. How could growing grain on the Moon be possibly cheaper and more viable than on Earth? Crops need sun, air, soil and water. Are they grown in greenhouses? If they are underground, why can't they do that on Earth? If not, how do you plow a surface without atmosphere that's two weeks extremely cold and two weeks extremely hot? And how do you make it cost-effective? There is nothing about these "minor" problems in the book. This is unforgiveable.

He also fails to extrapolate from existing technology. Mike always needs a phone line, even though radios existed. News come from newspapers, even though there is video broadcasting. And the way we use artificial intelligence is... by making the machine pretend to be human? Excuse me. Asimov wrote about way more advanced AI concepts, way earlier.

Now, to my major, major beef: the constant, tireless, never-ceasing sexism. The book starts with the arrival of Wyo, a very attracive woman. Every man she meets - and I truly mean every - greets her with appreciative looking up-and-down, whistling, tongue clicking, and suggestive remarks. Even the boys learn this behavior at an early age. And, apparently, Wyo loves it! This way of treating women continues all through the book.

Women "undulate", and men just can't control themselves, because there are twice as many men as women. To solve this problem, they have commune-like family structures such as line marriage, which is essentially sex of all females with all males in a commune, run by women. However the women's role is limited to the home and raising children. In a telling anecdote, when Wyo shows interest in farming, they eventually send her back home because she is too distracting for the men-folk at work. WTF???

To Heinlein's credit, he is also a proponent of absolute choice for women - the woman always decides. Touching a woman against her will is punishable by death in Luna. He also attempts involving women in the government, mainly Wyo; although this is often limited to family or women's issues. Which, thinking about it, is way more advanced than our current government.

Overall, this book has not aged well. Decently written, semi-enjoyable, it is mostly valuable as a time capsule of the sixties Zeitgeist.
( )
1 vote Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
None of these complaints are to say that Harsh Mistress is a straight-up bad book. As with any Heinlein book, it offers a lot of food for thought and fodder for argument.
added by lorax | editio9, Josh Wimmer (May 2, 2010)

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heinlein, Robert A.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, Raymistaken ascriptionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lippi, GiuseppeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patrito, MarcoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinna, AntonangeloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warhola, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
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For Pete and Jane Sencenbaugh
First words
I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect—and tax—public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure.
There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch)
We never did it that way again ... Alvarez was not a scientific detective.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Für die ersten Raumfahrer war sie das Ziel ihrer größten Sehnsüchte, doch nun ist Luna ein Hort der Alpträume geworden. Die Menschen haben den Mond in eine riesige Strafkolonie verwandelt. Niemand, der hierher verbannt wurde, hat die Chance, auf die Erde zurückzukehren. Das System ist allen verhaßt, doch keiner lehnt sich gegen die grausamen Unterdrücker auf - bis Mike, der gigantische Computer, für die Loonies Partei ergreift. Und plötzlich scheint alles möglich zu sein - selbst die Revolution auf dem Mond.
Ein Klassiker! Einer der fünf besten SF-Romane aller Zeiten.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312863551, Paperback)

Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, "We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is." Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A one-armed computer technician, a radical blonde bombshell, an aging academic, and a sentient all-knowing computer lead the lunar population in a revolution against Earth's colonial rule.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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