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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  87,705 Ratings  ·  2,839 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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MP3 Book, Unabridged, 14 pages
Published 2002 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published April 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)
Marcia They avoid it, because most girls do not marry into their own families. Girls on Luna are the creators of families most of the time, by marrying one…moreThey avoid it, because most girls do not marry into their own families. Girls on Luna are the creators of families most of the time, by marrying one or several young men. If you recall, Mimi was the head of Mannie's family, as were the eldest wives prior to her, leading back to the first wife and her husbands. It was a special situation that allowed the youngest wife to join the family, and not a common occurrance. This is explained only because she was a child within the family first, then because of circumstances that actually prevented any risks of inbreeding, she was allowed to join as a wife when she "graduated" from childhood. (less)
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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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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
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Brad
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What do you want us to do? Throw rocks at them?

Nah, but we could have a tea party.

Wow. I'm still amazed at how good this Revolution novel has held up over the years. I had read it twice before this latest re-read, but it hasn't lost any of its charm.

Of course, I love Heinlein's heavy reliance on self-reliance, libertarianism, and TANSTAAFL. I'm lucky to have read him early so as to be fully indoctrinated in this gung-ho politicism of Rational Anarchy and I can laugh and whoop and grin foolishly
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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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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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Tolgonay Dinçer
İthaki bilimkurgu klasiklerinin 10. kitabı Yıldız Gemisi Askerleri'ydi, 20. kitabı da Ay Zalim bir Sevgilidir oldu, acaba 30. kitapta Yaban Diyardaki Yabancı mı olacak diye düşünmeden edemedim.
Yıldız gemisi askerleri ile militarizm ile başlayan savaşı sorgulama bu kitapla birlikte daha farklı yanlardan bir sorgulamaya gidiyor.

Hapishane olarak kullanılan Ay'ın Terra otoritesine karşı gerçekleştirmeye çalıştığı devrim konu alınıyor ancak kurgudan çok devri nasıl yapılır kılavuzuydu. aynı zamanda k
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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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melydia
Dec 19, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sandi
Jan 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, audiobooks, 2011
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
Ron
Sep 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
HAL before HAL. One of Heinlein's best.
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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Kelly McCubbin
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Monica
I feel like I just took a psychedelic trip culturally through the 60s in a dream of the life in the future. I found the book to be very reflective of the culture and philosophies of the 60s projected to the 2000s. In some ways Heinlein was ahead of his time. I found myself impressed with his treatment and characterization of the sentient AI. There was a lot of unexpected philosophy in the storytelling where they are discussion the behaviors of crowds, and people and greed and motivations. I thou ...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!
Joe
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The opening chapter of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress presents an intriguing character study; Mike is a computer who wants to grow up. Mike doesn't understand humor or human nature but he wants to learn and he's got a willing 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! Economic freedom
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Erik
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress begins, promisingly enough, with a conversation between the sentient computer Mike and the mechanic Mannie, our protagonist, about the subjective and paradoxical nature of humor. It then segues into a revolution whereby the Moon, a penal colony used primarily as a farm to grow wheat to feed Earth's beleaguered masses, attempts to become an independent state. The revolution is planned and executed primarily by Mike, essentially an omniscient God, and everything which ...more
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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Ivana Books Are Magic
As cynical as I have become about revolutions, this novel managed to warm my heart. This story about Loonies (residents of Luna i.e. the Moon) rebelling against Earth government is so well written it is really a crime to miss it. As a big a crime as not starting a revolution when revolution is due. If you want to feed your inner rebel with a delicious story of lunar colony rebelling against mother Earth, then what are you waiting for? If you’re feeling philosophical, then this might be a good no ...more
Dan
Jul 16, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculations
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.
Jim
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Mr. Matt
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2015
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is like a comfortable old shoe. I've read the thing multiple times - the first when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I know every nook and cranny of the book; however, like an old shoe, it's no longer shiny and new - it even stinks a little bit. Fortunately, like an old shoe, it feels good reading it and that is enough.

The story is about a handful of souls, well, really two - Manuel (a.k.a., Man) and Mike (a.k.a., Mycroft Holmes) - who are drawn into a rebellion again
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Tatiana
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencefiction
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. =)
Veronique
4.5

My first experience of Heinlein hadn’t been the best. I did appreciate Starship Troopers, but didn’t love it. This is not the case with this novel - far from it.

Where to start? There is So much. What seems at first a straightforward science fiction story is in fact a mixture of different genres, combining revolution, politics, philosophy, adventure and suspense, all this seasoned with historical, scientific and literary references, especially from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With so many elements
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David Sarkies
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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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COME_TO_THE_DARK_SIDE
Crónica de una revolución
La Luna es una colonia de proscritos y exiliados políticos controlada por la Autoridad Lunar. Cuando el narrador, Manuel, asiste a una manifestación se entera de que los recursos de la Luna se están agotando. Sino dejan de exportarlos a la Tierra, los habitantes de la Luna estarán condenados a la inanición. Manuel se une a un complot revolucionario junto a su amigo el profesor y una mujer rubia llamada Wyoming Knott. Un superordenador con conciencia propia que controla c
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Jeraviz
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Señor/a Anarquista del Futuro:
Cuando vaya usted a rebelarse contra la tiranía de la Tierra para liberar la Luna acuérdese de este libro, que le dará todas las claves necesarias para montar una Revolución como Dios (o Lenin) manda.
Eso sí, espérense a tener un ordenador superinteligente con conciencia de sí mismo para poder tener éxito.

Heinlein cuenta aquí una historia universal: la rebelión del pueblo contra la tiranía, la lucha para conseguir esa utopía y los problemas para mantenerla una vez qu
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Michael
Oct 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michael by: Kim
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
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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.
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein 79 164 Nov 03, 2016 04:53PM  
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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...
“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.” 528 likes
“Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to a virgin.” 82 likes
More quotes…