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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blueprint for Revolution
This is my favorite Heinlein novel, and I've read all of Heinlein's works. It is a great mixture of adventure, humor, politics, technology, some thought provoking looks at alternate types of marriages, and the most lovable sentient computer ever to grace the pages of a novel. Mike (the computer) is really the star of this book, from loving to tell jokes, to deciding to...
Published on 16 Nov. 2003 by Patrick Shepherd

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A parody on libertarianism?
Robert Heinlein's novel "The Moon is a harsh mistress" is said to be a positive novel about a libertarian revolution on the Moon. But is it really? That wasn't my impression upon reading it. To me, the novel sounds like a parody on libertarian revolutions, indeed of revolutions in general. Maybe I'm wrong, but if this is supposed to be a libertarian work, Heinlein was...
Published on 25 Dec. 2010 by Ashtar Command


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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blueprint for Revolution, 16 Nov. 2003
By 
Patrick Shepherd "hyperpat" (San Jose, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is my favorite Heinlein novel, and I've read all of Heinlein's works. It is a great mixture of adventure, humor, politics, technology, some thought provoking looks at alternate types of marriages, and the most lovable sentient computer ever to grace the pages of a novel. Mike (the computer) is really the star of this book, from loving to tell jokes, to deciding to help a group of revolutionary-minded Luna 'citizens' actually accomplish their dreams of freedom because the human interaction would keep him from being lonely.

Along the path to revolution, Heinlein, (as usual), inserts thoughts and ideas that challenge your basic assumptions about what is right, normal, necessary, or appropriate. Is a representative democracy the only 'good' form of government? What's so sacred about a 'majority'? How should a government finance itself? (Maybe make the representatives pay for their pet projects out of their own pocket - taxes not allowed!). Are polygamy, polyandry, or other forms of multiple marriage wrong or can they be used to help preserve the stability of a child-rearing environment? How do you most efficiently organize a revolutionary group that must be kept secret from the authorities (given the assumption that there will always be 'stool pigeons')?

Heinlein creates some great characters to go along with his re-worked story of the American Revolutionary war. Mannie Garcia, a computer maintenance man - the only 'real' one on Luna, is the focal character, an average, everyday person (for a Loonie) who gets caught up in the events almost in spite of himself. Professor Bernardo de la Paz is an intelligent, dry man, quiet but stubborn and with some radical ideas about government and individual responsibility, who becomes the intellectual heart of the revolution. But Mike steals the show, running all the myriad details of coordination, propaganda, logistics, and banking for the revolution, but painfully wanting contact with 'not-stupid' humans, trying desperately to understand just what it is to be human. It's these characters that make you want to root for the revolution to succeed, as they embody something deep within everyone, the feeling of hope in the face of impossible odds, the will to fight for what is perceived as right and correct.

Some have quite correctly noted that this book should not be read by ultra-grammarians, as it is told in first person Luna-speak, an odd pidgin mixture of English and Russian, with occasional items thrown in from Chinese, Finnish, and several other languages. Far from being a detriment, I consider this to be a great accomplishment. Most writers have trouble accurately portraying the dialect, say, of the Deep South in a convincing manner. Here, Heinlein has created his own dialect of the future - and makes you believe it.

This book is not quite as deep as Stranger in a Strange Land, one of Heinlein's other great books, but it has a faster, more action oriented pace, and characters that you will get emotionally involved with. I cried at the end of this book the first time I read it (and the second, and the third...) and I think you will too. TANSTAAFL indeed - but in this case, you will get more than you paid for, one of Heinlein's great gifts to the world.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A libertarian handbook, 10 July 2002
This is perhaps my favourite SF book, even though I'm more a PKD fan. I agree that it is not his most sophisticated work - see Time Enough for Love or Stranger In a Strange Land - but it is in my opinion his most atmospheric and evocative - and gripping. It is a self-conscious parody of the American Revolution with a good deal of anti-UN propaganda thrown in - and why not!? True fire-and-thunder Heinlein militaristic, anarcho-libertarianism.
Be patient with the odd prose style - it'll grow on you.
And the character of the computer, Mike, is very touching.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-buy, 20 April 2001
By 
This is simply a wonderful book, reminiscent of Asimov or Clarke at their best, but with actual characters! Heinlein's use of language is amazing, forming a whole new slang language which despite being very original is still easily understood throughout, and gives an extra credability to his dialogues, and whilke the plot is about a revolution on the moon, it is told through the eyes of one character and as such manages something that very few sci-fi writers ever manage- he makes the people real as well as the technology. It seems a little dated in teh technology at times, but otherwise is remarkable. Just buy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply, the best SF yarn I have *ever* read., 8 April 2000
By A Customer
I recall trying to read it first when I was about twelve, a time in my life when the at times quite peculiar "Looonie" language went straight over my head, and the political intrigue was a bit too deep for me. Since then, I must have read this story dozens of times... I think it's about time I treated myself to a new copy, the old one is falling apart!
When, oh, when, is someone going to turn this book into a film? There are so many parallels with the Internet theme that its time has surely come!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TANSTAAFL!, 31 Mar. 1997
By A Customer
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress plays on a main theme Robert Heinlein masterfully weaved in all of his novels; that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, elequently put together under the word TANSTAAFL. For Robert Heinlein, no thing has value unless you are willing to commit your lives, your fortunes, and your sacred honor. The central character is Manny, a computer systems analyst reluctantly thrust into being the focal point of a revolution between the moon and earth. Dragged into participation, he moves from severe doubts to its success to being a forceful commited revolutionary who launches his entire being to liberating his beloved Luna. In the bittersweet ending we understand that success or failure is secondary to the value of commitment, and that to care passionately about a noble goal and to give all of yourself is the core of our being and our humanity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really good, but not his best, 28 July 1998
By A Customer
Thought of by many as his most important, if not best novel, "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistess" is thoroughly enjoyable and (I hate to use the cliche) one of those books you can't put down. But it lacked real insight into human relationships, something Heinlein displayed a great knack for in "Stranger In A Strange Land." If you're looking for your first Heinlein novel, read "Stranger," then read "Moon."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Heinlein, 2 Sept. 2009
Before this novel I had read Starship troopers which had really impressed me. i rented The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress from my library thinking it would just pass the the time beforemy next novel.

It starts excellently with the introduction of the protagonist and one of the best chracters ever, Mike the computer. You have to read the novel to really understand Mike but the other characterisations are excellent, especially the prorotaginist Manauel.

To me this is withinmy top 5 novels, which is excellent because I rented it witohut any review to do so.

Through, this novel has excellent characters, stories and hard sci fi and I rate it as the best sci-fi coup book ever, and nearly as the best sci-fi novel ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Science Fiction that makes you think!, 12 May 2012
By 
Killie (Armadale, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Hardcover)
"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is only the second ever Heinlein book I have read, with "Starship Troopers" being the other. In all honesty I only ended up reading this one due to a reading challenge but with so much Science Fiction out there I have always struggled to find the time to read some of the older novels. Either way, all I can say now is that this is another example of a reading challenge forcing me to read something I normally wouldn't and being rewarded with an enjoyable and complex novel.

The novel basically follows a revolution on the Moon by its oppressed people who can rarely ever leave and must live a life full of economic exploitation by The Lunar Authority. It is at its heart almost a retelling of the American Revolution and one of the characters actually uses various quotes and comments from that very war during their own revolution. The novel follows the carefully planned and executed conspiracy by the stories main characters from the beginning of their plot right through the claiming of the Moon as their own and the fight against Earth itself.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is the fact that besides the economic issues and the lack of representation the government weren't necessarily treating the people of the Moon terribly badly. In fact those living on the Moon had an almost libertarian paradise where people didn't pay taxes yet people still got on and behaved well as those who didn't were shunned. In fact as the story progresses and the Moon sets up their own government they risk actually losing some of the very freedoms they had enjoyed. I am sure Heinlein was trying to tell me something there about the nature of man and all that but to be honest my mind was quite frayed by then trying to really follow all of his political points.

And it has to be said that politics really is the heart of this novel, I will admit it does have some rather enjoyable elements of action as the revolution occurs and the Moon tries to fight off the Earth but a large amount of the novel is quite simply based around the complex and quite dry subject of politics. The first half of the book almost seems entirely dedicated to discussions about political theory and debates about points that could have been ripped from any Marxist, Anarchist or Libertarian's handbooks. Now, I will admit that I actually quite enjoyed reading these political discussions as it made me think but by the end of the novel it just felt a little bit like Heinlein was trying to ram his opinions down the reader's throats. This wasn't helped by the ending which I found to be a little bit of a cop out in some areas such as what happens to self aware computer and revolutionary leader called Mike. This just reinforced my opinion that Heinlein was more interested in putting across his political viewpoints rather than ensuring the reading had an engaging and complete plotline to follow.

An issue I did have with the novel though was in regards to the style and language used by the main characters. Heinlein appears to have surmised that the people on the moon would use a form of English in the future that has altered from the one we all know and has decided to use this new style of English within the novel. The biggest change I found in the language was the lack of articles and whilst I suspect this may actually make for a good audio version, as a reader it really made for a tough read and I will admit that I almost just gave up on the novel. However, as the book progressed I actually found the rhythm in the language and almost stopped noticing it. Now looking back over it, I am actually quite impressed that Heinlein had the courage to create his own stripped back frontier version of English and then use it.

Overall, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" is quite a dry and complex Science Fiction novel that at times seemed to be more focused on expressing Heinlein's political ideology than on having an entertaining plot. Now don't get me wrong, personally I did still enjoy the novel but this was more on an intellectual level in regards to the society Heinlein has created on the moon and in the political discussions that made me think. However, if you like your Science Fiction full of action, drama and thrills then you will probably want to stay clear of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A parody on libertarianism?, 25 Dec. 2010
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Robert Heinlein's novel "The Moon is a harsh mistress" is said to be a positive novel about a libertarian revolution on the Moon. But is it really? That wasn't my impression upon reading it. To me, the novel sounds like a parody on libertarian revolutions, indeed of revolutions in general. Maybe I'm wrong, but if this is supposed to be a libertarian work, Heinlein was pretty good at hiding it!

The novel describes a libertarian, anti-racist and polyandrous society on the Moon, which is actually a penal colony of a largely socialist Earth. As long as the Moon is nominally a prison camp, life is relatively easy and relaxed. Problems only surface after the actual revolution, when the Moon becomes free. The revolution is "libertarian" and "democratic", but the first free elections are rigged by a sentient supercomputer, whose very existence is a secret known only by a few elect. The libertarians who lead (sic) the revolution are cadres organized in a hierarchic, clandestine party, similar to the Bolshevik Party. The inhabitants of the Luna colony even speak a garbled form of Russian (with a few Swedish phrases thrown in for good measure), and call each other "comrades". And why is the real leader of the revolt a secret computer?!

The story also features a character called the Professor, who claims to be a "rational anarchist". According to Wikipedia, the Professor is based on a real person, one Robert LeFevre. Personally, he rather made me think of Murray Rothbard, the elitist anarcho-capitalist who wanted to create a cadre organization.

Heinlein's anti-racism and sexual liberalism also shines through the novel at various points. The main character, Mannie, is apparently coloured. He gets arrested during a visit to the Deep South, after showing some reporters a photo of his multi-racial, polygamous family. It seems that the women are somehow in charge at the Luna colony, probably because there are so few of them (so the men must genuflect). The women also love to drive tourists mad, by showing off their nudity in public.

I haven't read all of Heinlein's novels, but I must admit that I didn't like the ones I've read so far. They strike me as frivolous, absurd or both.

But perhaps I just don't grok?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Libertarian science fiction; Captivating story telling, 9 May 2010
Excellent science fiction novel about a group of loonies (no not crazy, people who live on the moon, on Luna, hence loonies, see) trying to liberate the Luna from the authoritarian earth control. Written over forty years ago, but still seems fresh, and has lots to offer.

I have read lots of science fiction, but for whatever reason I haven't gotten into Heinleins work previously. I've only seen Star Ship troopers, which I did enjoy, and now thinking of reading that also.

I was drawn to this book mainly for the libertarian ideas it was claimed to contain, and on that front it did not disappoint me. The whole plot dwells around libertarianism, with various interesting concepts about non-traditional marriages, court systems etc.

One thing that has to be said about the novel, is that it has aged well. And by this I mean that the novel was originally published over 40 years ago, and a lot of science fiction which is that old, often seems silly in certain aspects, especially regarding computers and technology. But that is not the case with The moon is a harsh mistress. It all still seemed logical and believable, it doesn't seem dated at all. Sure if it had been written now, the technology described would be a little different, but not massively so.

Interesting mix of characters, a sentient computer trying to figure out jokes, professor who almost sees revolutions as an art, a technician who really doesn't care about politics and a blond with with very keen political interests.

So yes, highly recommended for anybody interested in science fiction or libertarianism. Captivating read, I finished it quite quickly. I definitely will be reading more Heinlein in the future.
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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Robert A. Heinlein (Hardcover - 11 Dec. 2008)
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