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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
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2010 Reads > TMIAHM: Why did he die? (spoilers)

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Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments I finished the book this week. And after reading thorough all the discussions I found a subject that had not been addressed yet. MIKE.

Why did he die? And did he have to? And did you like his character?

I really enjoyed the depiction of this self aware computer. He was juvenile yes, but that added a little humor to an other wise bleak story. I liked the parts where he is trying to analyze jokes and see why they are funny once, or funny every time. Much like a kid of age 5-8 in my experience. Also the fact that he views the revolution as a game to win. Like Candy Land but with catapults and rocks to throw.

Mike was such an integral part of the revolution, that I found his ending to be a sad cop out to an otherwise strongly put together ending. Did Heinlein not know how to end his story line better than him vanishing into thin air (so to speak)? I would have much preferred to find out why he died, i.e. to much damage, as they discussed in the book could happen.

But the ending I really would have loved to read for him would be to survive as the silent hero of the revolution, able to sit with Manuel and Wyoh and keep on telling jokes. With no need of medals or praise, but secure in the knowledge that he helped win the "game" of revolution with the Loonies.

message 2: by Philip (new) - added it

Philip (heard03) | 383 comments I wonder if Jane from Ender's Game(and later books) was inspired by Mike? Both were well written in as significant characters and both faced the prospect of death as a self-aware computer. There are probably other similarities.

Mike was a good character, and he had proper diction. ;0)

Glenn Hopper (hghtrey) | 30 comments I won't spoil it for you but if you want to revisit Mike's being alive or dead I suggest "The Cat Who Walks
Through Walls".

message 4: by Dylan Northrup (new)

Dylan Northrup | 39 comments From a story standpoint, having a superhuman character around causes plotting problems. Taking Mike out of the picture once his usefulness as a facilitator of the revolution had finished allowed Heinlein to have Manny and Wyoh survive without having a mechanical overseer. It's more in line with the libertarian ideal of self-sufficiency to let folks carry on without having some sort of electronic overseer (even if they are friendly to you and your cause). At least that's what struck me after reading the book and thinking about why Mike "had" to die.

message 5: by Jlawrence, S&L Moderator (last edited Aug 23, 2010 12:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jlawrence | 960 comments Mod
Mike was my favorite character from this book, and I was sad to seem him fall silent, but it made sense to me. Partly because of the 'superhuman overseer' problem Dylan mentions (though, even without Mike, the Loonie political body emerging from the revolution doesn't fit the Professor's pure libertarian ideal anyway, which was interesting). It'd also seem a little too fairy-tale-ish, for our main characters to all emerge unscathed from a dangerous revolution (yes, the Professor passes, but at a perfectly timed moment, after declaring victory).

On the technical side, I bought Mannie's speculation that enough of Mike's physical components had been hit to possibly cause Mike to fall beneath the threshold for consciousness. It doesn't explain why Mike wouldn't 'wake up' once those components were repaired or replaced, but maybe his previous emergence depended on some serendipity of combined elements, not just the amount of hardware.

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments I could see a problem with the "super human" overseer continuing on in such capacity w/ the new Luna Govt.

But I don't think Mike would have had to fulfill that roll any longer. After all there was a semi-functioning govt. on Luna and he didn't have a problem with his place under the Authority pre-revolution, except for the occasional practical joke :). I think he could have stayed alive and gone back to being a normal self-aware super computer.

Jlawrence- I do see your point of having a dramatic death for a character in the revolution...just wish it could have been somebody else. Maybe a peripheral character like Manuel's brother the preacher....I guess Mike was just my favorite character in the story.

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments Did he die - or just let others think that?

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Stan wrote: "Did he die - or just let others think that?"

I don't see anything in this story to suggest that he survived. Following the link that Glenn posted earlier seems to suggest that Heinlein brought Mike back at some point far in the future. But the ending of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress seems pretty conclusive that he is gone.

What reason would Mike have for hiding out like that and not receiving any more input on his jokes?

message 9: by Kris (last edited Aug 23, 2010 07:54PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kris (kvolk) i always thought that Mike left because Manny was able to finally be the "Leader" of Luna. Mike to me was just a metaphor in a way for Manny's growth just externalized by the author to make the story more interesting.....or maybe I am smoking crack....

Nicolai (nemoi) | 47 comments I felt like both the Professor's and Mike's death were far too convienent... placed at exactly the time the story needed to have them out of the picture, and both with little plausible explanation how and why they died. For me that was one of the weakest parts of story telling in the book and somewhat ruined the ending.

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Nicolai wrote: "I felt like both the Professor's and Mike's death were far too convienent... placed at exactly the time the story needed to have them out of the picture, and both with little plausible explanation ..."

I agree mostly. While it didn't ruin the ending for me Mikes death did make me have a "oh what the hell did he do that for?" moment. I was not surprised to see the professor die. Manuel had been worried about him since they took the trip to earth. Always talking about how the gravity had taken its toll on him. But the timing was a little suspect...although I have read worse death sequences then Heinleins.

Patrick | 93 comments Mike has always been my favorite character but reading the book this time I was struck with how really convenient Mike is to the rebellion. Here is an ally that can secretly monitor all the enemies communication, can disrupt the enemies basic infrastructure, allows the rebels to communicate in a untraceable fashion, and handle a myriad set of other details. Mike handles the details and lets Heinlein focus on the more social and political parts of the story.

The frightening thing is to turn it around. Suppose Mike had become friends with the Warden's side instead? He could have been a nearly unbeatable instrument of tyranny.

message 13: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - rated it 3 stars

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1680 comments Mod
OK... well, that thread title kind of spoiled it for me right off the top.

message 14: by Micah (last edited Aug 27, 2010 04:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments OH NO!!! I'm sorry Veronica. I didn't think anybody would be able to know who I was talking about from that title. I guess I could have named it "why did that happen?" Sorry!

Michael (michaelbetts) I got spoiled too =/

message 16: by Skip (last edited Sep 08, 2010 01:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Skip | 517 comments I'm usually very sensitive to "unneeded deaths" - those deaths that are either plot crutches or laziness on the author's part - and Mike's death didn't bother me at all.

Yes, it was convenient and it did move the plot, but it was also understandable and made sense inside the story. Plus it is a relatively short book. Three hundred pages doesn’t get you out of a Robert Jordan prologue, but Heinlein managed to fit everything in the same space. So some of the subtlety we may be used to in our more sedately paced modern novels is missing, but I never felt I lost all that much for it.

message 17: by Derek (new)

Derek Knox (snokat) | 274 comments As mentioned above, Mike is revisited in 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls', but we never actually talk to him. The whole story is about planning and executing a commando raid to save him. Since he is the only AI found in the multi-verse cycle Heinlein started in 'The Number of the Beast'. He never got very far with the concept, just the 1st book, a couple of Lazurus Long books, and 'Cat'.

message 18: by CJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

CJ (cjstreetcarp) | 7 comments Patrick wrote: "Mike has always been my favorite character but reading the book this time I was struck with how really convenient Mike is to the rebellion. Here is an ally that can secretly monitor all the enemie..."

This was actually one of my favorite parts of this book. The rebellion was so precarious and all of the leaders so fundamental to its success if at any time one of them were to turn on the revolution it would surely be doomed. It helped increase the tension quite a bit.

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