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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (original 1966; edition 2008)

by Robert A. Heinlein

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,62998568 (4.18)1 / 237
Member:rasjani
Title:The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Authors:Robert A. Heinlein
Info:Gollancz (2008), Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:scifi

Work details

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

Recently added byAgavebooksinc, CorinasQuill, btburt, private library, Book-Lish, CarolineMCarrico
Legacy LibrariesInternational Space Station
  1. 122
    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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English (97)  Slovak (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Stranger was pervasive when I was a kid and I knew it by heart along with the crowd. Had I read this then, who knows? I’m almost to sorry to have visited Heinlein again now, as I’ve thought ‘grok’ the greatest of invented words, and I owe him an introduction to Rodin’s sculpture (his descriptions of which I nearly know, still, by heart). As for the gist of the story, strictly I’ve forgotten, but I was in the spirit at the time.

I remember I ‘read around’ the women, ignored their presence… I kind of pretended they were pets. That must have been the habit of the day, to cope with such as Heinlein: I’ve lost that trick these days, and have to slap on this book a warning label for Graphic Sexist Content. My God. But let’s move on.

Maybe, against any sense or sanity, I’ll go back and find out what that other Mike was about (this book has Mike the Computer, everybody’s favourite character). My very bones rebel in me against what this book was about. But my bones are inarticulate, and I probably should have known better than to read a Heinlein at my age. I was tempted in by ‘prison moon throws off its shackles’ but this was a strangely unimpassioned revolution whose cause was material self-interest and whose slogan, of course, you know. I might have been into his polyamorous families, except that his emphasis is on family values (familiar ones), the single life is despised as usual, and snippets like the information that no male in this ongoing group family has ever washed the dishes, undercut the project for me.

I enjoyed the yarn. Rattling along with dialogue; one scene of dialogue straddled three chapters, I swear; I think he even dispensed with stage directions. I’ll happily listen to people talk and interact, for whatsoever page count you like; on the other hand, the equal page count of communications technology was for another audience than me. Living in a convict colony myself, I note the Aussie slang. I did want to see more of Mike. ( )
  Jakujin | Aug 22, 2014 |
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 [b:The Rolling Stones|50848|The Rolling Stones|Robert A. Heinlein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1290564157s/50848.jpg|2095434]) 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_is_a_Harsh_Mistress ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
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 [b:The Rolling Stones|50848|The Rolling Stones|Robert A. Heinlein|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1290564157s/50848.jpg|2095434]) 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 [a:Lloyd James|94049|Lloyd James|https://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-d9f6a4a5badfda0f69e70cc94d962125.png], 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_is_a_Harsh_Mistress

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. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
I'm told this is a great book, even an important work in the Sci-Fi realm. But I couldn't get part the first 50 pages. With each page my annoyance at the made up future language just increased. The female character didn't interest me at all. I found myself skimming, just to move the story along, and that's when I know I'm done. ( )
  NateK | Aug 9, 2014 |
Libertarian propaganda. It's well-written enough that I read the whole thing anyways, though. ( )
  comfypants | Jun 2, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (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
James, LloydNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lippi, GiuseppeContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patrito, MarcoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinna, AntonangeloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:44 -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 7 descriptions

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