Russell's Reviews > The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
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Jul 29, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

I read this years ago when I was a preteen and liked it then. In truth, I approached with some trepidation, what once was enjoyable when young doesn't always have the same appeal when older. However, I wasn't disappointed. Heinlein published this in 1966 at the height of his powers as a hard SciFi author. What is a fairly straightforward plot, the residents of the moon rebel, is just a cover for Heinlein's ability to expound to the reader with ideas Heinlein had been brewing on. The dialogue consists of a pidgin of English and Russian with Russian grammatical structures, such as the dropping of indefinite articles, and Russian words producing a stylized and choppy flow, it works well to establish lunar atmosphere (ha!) and fades to the background. Heinlein hits the reader with fairly detailed explanations of the Moon's conditions, both technological and societal, lays on thick 1960's style of libertarian theories about trade and government and introduces the accidental artificial intelligence. This is not a book for beginners, try his earlier works from the 50's like "Have Space Suit—Will Travel" or "Farmer in the Sky".
Mike the accidental artificial intelligence is one of my favorite A.I. characters, right up there with HAL, but on the side of the good guys :) I thought Heinlein did a fantastic job having Mike progress during the book. Heinlein correctly anticipated the nature of the internet in that with proper connections, data could be accessed from from anywhere, including images, by computers. Pretty forward thinking. In Heinlein's vision, the equipment needed were telephones and A.I. to get the job done.

Heinlein packs a lot into this book without sacrificing ease of reading. Recommended for hard SciFi fans, the rest of you are on your own :)
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