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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 October 2010
You may be surprised that I'd not read this before, but I have been put off reading Heinlein by reports that his books were really just extended childish political rants. Those reports are, at least in the case of this book, wrong. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress does indeed contain something of a political manifesto, but it's not childish (I disagree with it, but it's not childish), and is only part of a well-told, gripping tale, with engaging characters: you could ignore the politics entirely and still have a good read, although it would, obviously, somewhat damage the characters if you were to remove some of their motivation!

Talking of which, the four primary characters are fully-realised and believable, even if some of the lesser ones are a bit samey or a bit stereotyped and hence easy to confuse, but that doesn't detract from the story. They're background. They're not meant to require your attention, so the story works fine with that confusion. Something that many authors fail at, especially science fiction authors of Heinlein's vintage, is giving characters their own voice. All too often characters sound like the autho and like each otherr. Not here. Heinlein has a great way with voice and dialogue. I'll be reading more of his stuff, and I can whole-heartedly recommend that you, if you're not already familiar with him, start right here.
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on 16 July 1998
The Moon is indeed a Harsh Mistress ! I realize that now, after having finished this book. I'm sorry to say it was a little too predictable. Hopefully without spoiling the fun for future readers - everything went so easily - this future "American Revolution" as it actually was - like changing channels on the TV. However, I've got to hand it to Mr. Heinlein, he's was a very good sci-fi author. Probably the best . The Books about Lazarus Long are more than just books, they're ...You Name It !!!!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 January 2012
Luna is the Australia of the future. Populated largely by criminal transportees and their families, it supplies critically-needed food to a near-starving Earth. The "Loonies" are governed by a dictatorial warden and his small army of security guards. Luna seems like the most secure prison colony ever founded. There is truly no escape.

Mannie O'Kelly-Davis works for Luna's administration as a contract computer trouble-shooter. When the central computer achieves self-awareness and begins calling itself "Mike," Mannie is the first one to notice. Advising Mike to keep a low profile about his new-found sentience, Mannie becomes his "first and best friend." And they both get caught up in a revolutionary movement to free Luna.

I liked this when I read it as a kid. Rereading it as an adult was a thought-provoking experience. Luna's "revolution" is organized into COMINTERN-style cell system with elaborate security procedures and more than a little lying to and stealing from innocent people. A few even get killed. All of this highlights how young people can be drawn into such dubious enterprises in real life. As Mannie observes, "Kids will do anything which is mysterious and fun." All of this sneaking around has a Tom Sawyerish feel to it.

Disturbingly, everyone proceeds with the fanatical assumption that everything is secondary to the revolution. This allows lying, killing and stealing to proceed with few second thoughts. A less extreme stance might at least have had the revolutionaries struggling with these moral concerns a bit. Better would be having them proceed while balancing a number of concerns and values--like real, non-fanatical people do.

Still, it is a classic and worth reading. There are some recognizable early-Heinlein patterns. There is the "wise old man" who always knows the answer and advises the other characters. Nobody notices when he is inconsistent or just plain wrong. There is Heinlein's signature dualism in treatment of female characters. He praises them to the skies, then doesn't give them much more to do than bring coffee and ask the male heroes naïve questions. And there is all the talking. Characters are always describing things to each other. It's an okay technique, but in moderation--please!

Heinlein fans and scholars of mid-twentieth century science fiction: Buy it and read it! Other science fiction fans: Check it out of the library sometime. Knowing about it is a science fiction cultural literacy requirement.
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on 8 January 2002
Don't be put off by the title, the story carries a simple but highly enjoyable tale of the independence of the moon in a future time. Heinlein's gift is to tell a story with engaging simplicity, some of his thoughts of the future are remarkable in their accuracy today. This book though written some years ago, still stacks up as a thoroughly enjoyable tale. If you like your Sci-fi dark and dangerous, this is definately not for you, but if you like the triumph of good, get it and enjoy! Other books by Robert Heinlein try "A door into Summer", "Time enough for Love"
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on 1 May 2012
I first read this book when I was in my mid-teens. It had been sitting on my parents's shelves for most of my life and I was always a little daunted by the fact that I knew it was to some extent a hard sci-fi novel (a genre that I have not always particularly enjoyed). One day I decided to brave it and I absolutely fell in love! The characters are wonderfully filled out, with Mike being the star of the show. The politics and sociological ideas are fascinating and thought provoking, whether you agree with them all or not. The pace of the book is perfectly timed. And, as a bonus for me, the 'hard' sci-fi is not so technical that I ended up getting lost or frustrated. I believe it has dated remarkably well for it's age and whilst some of the computer tech is a little out-moded it is still relevant enough to be valid. I've read some reviews by people who struggled with the language (or worse, believed it was badly written!) and all I can say is that as an example of how diverging societies develop different forms of a shared language I think it is exellent. After the first chapter it has become familiar and comfortable. I now re-read this book at least every couple of years and it never gets old. I would highly recommend this to anyone as a beautiful piece of literature.
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on 4 August 1997
First, the best. Heinlein writes more vividly and with better style here than he did in any novel before or after. Only some of his crackerjack short stories and novelettes compare to the pacing and clever plotting found here. Like other sf writers in the 60s, he started responding to the more "respectable" literature outside the field, and unless I miss my mark was influenced by the bastardized Russian of Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (1962). Indisputably the best character in this novel (as in the film 2001, a couple years later) is a computer who responds much more humanly than a lot of the "real" people in the book. The loss of Mike the talking computer at the end makes the book something of a tragedy, for any world that isn't large enough to contain this guy is much the worse for it. Now for the worst. Much of the book is a libertarian diatribe that embodies every masculinist and militaristic idea Heinlein ever had. It wouldn't be a surprise to find out that Tim McVeigh or the Unabomber memorized a novel like this, for its message is that when you don't like the way things are, a violent secretive response is the way to go. Scary stuff. The treatment of women is lowbrow by today's standards (and a lot have called him on it all along). Nevertheless, for the novel's ingenious story, its fascinating creation of alternative family life, and winning voice in the I-narrator Manny, it deserves a new lease on life--and a hardback edition that can go into libraries and readers' permanent collections.
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on 23 July 2009
For me this is Robert Heinlein's best novel, if not one of the greatest science fiction novels ever.

It is a great blend of science fiction, political intrigue and social commentary. What makes the book shine for me, however, are the characters. Mike the computer steals the show, but around him are several other interesting creations.

This is one of the few books that I can re-read frequently. If you like sci-fi, this is a must read.
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on 14 September 2003
Heinlein's use of the English language may seem a bit silly at first, but later on the reader realizes how ingenious it is. In most of Heinlein's book, it is only his prevalent Mormon-like beliefs that sometimes detract from the quality of the book, but in this book, such is not the case. The thoughts presented are unclouded and the story itself far exceeded all of my expectations before reading. Definitely worth a read.
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on 14 April 1997
In my very biast opinion, this is one of the best books ever written. It was the first of my many Heinlein books and I think that I have read it around seven times. For all you people who are just beginning on Heinlein, don't worry about Mike, he'll be okay. TANSTAAFL!!!
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on 1 April 1997
A compelling and touching story that draws heavilly on the histroy of India's independance with an Australian bent. Thought provoking and as timely a book as when it was first issued. TANSTAAFL!

Amnon
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