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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  60,625 ratings  ·  1,836 reviews
The Hugo Award-winning classic that helped launch modern libertarianism, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" is Heinlein's unforgettable tale of a Lunar revolution in 2076. Led by a one-armed computer technician, a radical blonde bombshell, an aging academic, and a sentient, all-knowing computer, the revolution's proclamation--"TANSTAAFL" (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lu ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 15th 1997 by Turtleback Books (first published June 28th 1966)
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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
...more
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.
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
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
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
...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.
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
...more
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.
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
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. =)
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.
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
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
...more
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
...more
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
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.
Monica
Toda obra de Heinlein es una apuesta segura, en su totalidad o en parte. Ésta que viene al caso, y ganadora del premio Hugo, nos muestra la faceta del autor en su segunda fase o época de escritura, ya que es un Heinlein CON LOS MISMOS PRINCIPIOS E IDEAS PERO CON UN CLARO DISCURSO LIBERAL Y ANARQUISTA (aunque igualmente patriota), y en el que POR PRIMERA VEZ PRIMA LA TEORÍA SOBRE LA ACCIÓN EN SU CONJUNTO, AUNQUE SIN PERJUDICAR A LA SEGUNDA (Robert es un amante del dinamismo en toda obra). Así, pu ...more
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
...more
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
Kim
Quaintly libertarian. I'd forgotten how much Heinlein likes his characters to talk... and talk... But you gotta give the guy credit, he came up with some interesting ideas about how societies might evolve. The pacing on this was kind of slow for me - it's told like a diary or historical recounting, so there isn't much immediate action going on. Also, the narrator uses a kind of shorthand, so it's a little like having the entire book read to you by Rorschach (except without, you know, all the ran ...more
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
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
...more
The Fza
Pay your debts. Collect what is owed to you. Maintain your reputation and that of your family... In 2075, on the underground penal colonies scattered across Earth's Moon, that is what life amounts to.

I've been a Heinlein fan since I read Have Space Suit—Will Travel as a young man. After which point I made an effort to read Heinlein as often as possible. What I found in his work was not only adventure and inventive situations but characters imbued with a sort of moral 'Rational Anarchy' that made
...more
Stephen
4.0 to 4.5 stars. My favorite Heinlein novel about a revolution by Lunar colonists against an oppressive Earth-based government. Libertarian science fiction at its best.

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1967)
Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel
Voted to the Prometheus Award Hall of Fame
sologdin
Nutshell: lunar colony secedes from Earth, led by John Galt and AI, as told by know-nothing with charming pseudo-slavic accent.

Likely one of the source texts for items such as Red Mars and Iron Council, each of which carries echoes of this one.

Some odd lapses. One of the principals describes herself as a "Fifth Internationalist" but yet "no Marxist" (64). That's essentially a contradiction in terms. Heinlein doesn't have her expound on her political ideology, as she is apparently present, like M
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
I read this first when I was young...we're talking young-young here, and my memories of it were of a sort of space opera. I'd remembered it along with many of Heinlein's "teen" or youth books. When I mentioned this it was pointed out to me (rather forcefully by some) that my memories were...incomplete.

Well, they were. While a young reader will see a "space rebellion" here the story itself is a well written tale of political science and human nature. Heinlein gives a very well done debate and/or
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: please correct page number 3 23 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 11 Jun 09, 2014 11:36AM  
What do you think of Prof's governmental views? 9 121 Apr 19, 2014 07:32AM  
Mike The Computer 5 84 Sep 10, 2013 09:14PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 69 103 Sep 03, 2013 04:13PM  
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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
...more
More about Robert A. Heinlein...
Stranger in a Strange Land Starship Troopers Time Enough for Love (The World As Myth) The Puppet Masters Friday

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“There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.” 436 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.” 396 likes
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