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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  67,950 ratings  ·  2,066 reviews

Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential science fiction writer of his era, an influence so large that, as Samuel R. Delany notes, "modern critics attempting to wrestle with that influence find themselves dealing with an object rather like the sky or an ocean." He won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, a record that still stands. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was

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Hardcover, 383 pages
Published June 28th 1966 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published 1966)
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Amber Dunten Manuel is a native speaker of Russian. Remember his "other grandmother was Tatar, born near Samarkand, sentenced to re-education on Oktyabrskaya…moreManuel is a native speaker of Russian. Remember his "other grandmother was Tatar, born near Samarkand, sentenced to re-education on Oktyabrskaya Revolyutsiya, then 'volunteered' to colonize in Luna." The way he speaks reflects that, like the way he never uses articles like "a" or "the." Russian doesn't have them, and so Russian speakers stereotypically leave them out when speaking English. Heinlein uses Manuel's speech patterns to continually remind you that he's not a native English speaker. Like for example, when Mike asks about a joke and says, "Not funny?" and Manuel's answer is "Very not." That's a very Russian way to phrase it. And he throws in a few actual Russian words here and there, like "bolshoi," to make it a little clearer. (less)

Community Reviews

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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 ...more
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
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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.
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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
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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
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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
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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 ...more
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
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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 ...more
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!
Ron
HAL before HAL. One of Heinlein's best.
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.
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
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Joseph
The opening chapter of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress presents an intriguing character study; Mike is a computer that wants to grow up. Mike doesn't understand humor or human nature but he wants to learn and he's got a willing friend and 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! Econ
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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 ...more
Ben Babcock
It didn’t take me long to understand why this book received such acclaim and is still regarded as a classic. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an emblem of political science fiction. Robert Heinlein manages to take the idea of a penal colony on the moon and turn it into a romantic story of political revolution. This is an idea that has been explored repeatedly since this novel was published, but those stories almost all owe a debt to this one.

Manuel/Manny/Man O’Kelly-Davis is a computer repair tec
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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
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Tatiana
My favorite book by Robert Heinlein, and he wrote some good ones. Like all Heinlein, this one is a page-turner with lots of engrossing action. Though we do get the standard Heinlein irascible opinionated character along with much political and social commentary, it's all integrated so seamlessly with the story, and is so clever and well-written that we hardly notice we're being preached at. =) The ideas and the technology are really fun. I love the lineal marriages. I totally want one. =)
Michael
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a political/sci-fi masterpiece. The book tells the story of Lunar (used to exile criminals and their families, once you adapt to life on the moon it was almost impossible to adjust back to the gravity of earth) and their struggle to become a free nation. Lunar while a place of criminals, political exiles or their descendants is like any other countries; yearning for liberty and to be free from the tyranny of their slaves. With the help of a supercomputer with a pe ...more
Adam
I am a pretty big Robert Heinlein fan and this is one of his best. I don't think I liked this quite as much as "Starship Troopers" but I read that one when I was much younger. This was a much more grown up story about a lunar colony's revolt against a greedy Earth-based government. As he often does, Heinlein touches on politics and isn't afraid to let the reader know where he stands.
Ints
Hainlainu es esmu lasījis ļoti maz. Manā bērnībā viņu vēl netulkoja, jo autors neticēja komunisma un sociālisma uzvarai pasaulē. Vēl trakāk - viņa pasaules ir ar netradicionālu ievirzi. Skaidrs, ka ar tādām lietām pionieru prātus nav ko traumēt. Tādēļ labprāt tagad laiku pa laikam izlasu pa kādai šī autora grāmatai.

2075. gadā Mēness vairs nav soda kolonija, taču pēc savas būtības Mēness kolonija ir un paliek cietums. Dzīve šeit nav viegla, viss jāaudzē pašiem un vēl jādod pārtika zemei. Visu mēn
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David
A brilliant science fiction adventure based on a libertarian theme. Although I like Heinlein, this is one of the few of his books that I've managed to finish. The reason I usually give up is because they tend to be episodic and one story ends before the next one has begun.

In this case there is a unitary theme about people in a colony (the Moon) who are being short-changed by their colonial masters and who realize that their only long-term hope is to "dissolve the political bonds which have conne
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David Sarkies
Dec 26, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci-fi buffs and Highschool Students, Students of revolutions
Recommended to David by: My boss at work
Shelves: sci-fi
An anatomy of a revolution
19 November 2012

Some have suggested that this is one of Heinlein's most political books, and while it this is only the forth that I have read so far, I am probably not that inclined to agree. While it was much better than Podkayne of Mars, it was pretty much on par with Stranger in a Strange Land (the other one I read was Starship Troopers). In a way, one could say that this novel is an anatomy of a revolution, in the same what that Stranger in a Strange Land is an ana
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Kat  Hooper
Originally posted at FanLit.
http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...

“Sometimes I think that government is an inescapable disease of human beings. But it may be possible to keep it small, and starved, and inoffensive.”

It’s the year 2075. The Earth, which has a worldwide government of Federated Nations, sends its criminals and exiles to the moon where they won’t bother anyone on Earth. The “Loonies” are governed by wardens who require them to grow hydroponic grain which is sent back to Earth. This
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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 ...more
Bryn Hammond
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
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S.A. Parham
A rare Heinlein that I enjoyed immensely, I will buying a copy of this to join my long-beloved Stranger in a Strange Land. I can only admire the skill it takes to come up with a believable slang and "voice" for the narrating character and to stick with it evenly throughout the novel. While on the surface, the story seems to follow a rather boring formula (a professor, a pretty blonde, and a jack-of-all-trades join with a master computer for a revolution), Heinlein spins enough creativity into th ...more
Jon
Jun 10, 2009 Jon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Ron Andrea and Jim MacLachlan
Social engineering science fiction from the master. My favorite character, hands down, was Mycroft, a self-aware computer (yes, artificial intelligence) who would have rather played a practical joke or tell a joke, than mastermind a revolution. Only a couple of technologies (typewriters and non-digital media such as printed books, newspapers, reports) dated this story. Otherwise, Heinlein transcended his present day masterfully.
Ric
As thrilling and entertaining a book as ever, and deserving of being included in the best SF novels of all time, this is Robert Heinlein's signature tale of revolution and liberation. In the underground warrens of the moon have been consigned Earth's unwanted, convicts, political exiles and misfits, to grow food for export to the bloom of humanity down the gravity well. But the Loonies are anything but, and have formed a society uniquely attuned to the harsh realities of living in low gravity an ...more
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Suffolk bookclub: August 2015 - The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress 21 9 7 hours, 1 min ago  
Ciencia Ficcion e...: Adaptación al cine de "La luna es una cruel amante" 3 26 Jun 14, 2015 08:02AM  
Goodreads Librari...: please correct page number 3 25 Aug 24, 2014 12:39PM  
SciFi Book Club: Moon is a harsh mistress 21 38 Aug 11, 2014 02:07PM  
SciFi Book Club: mike 3 12 Jun 09, 2014 11:36AM  
What do you think of Prof's governmental views? 9 125 Apr 19, 2014 07:32AM  
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Robert Anson Heinlein was an American novelist and science fiction writer. Often called "the dean of science fiction writers", he is one of the most popular, influential, and controversial authors of "hard science fiction".

He set a high standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality. He was the first SF writer to break into mainstre
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More about Robert A. Heinlein...
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“There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” 478 likes
“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.” 449 likes
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