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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress what a title, sometimes I wonder if this book is considered such a classic in large part due to that title Despite some imperfections, it does have much to offer, especially being published in the mid 1960 s The setting revolves around a former Lunar penal outpost, which has evolved into a highly functioning colony with ice mining and successful grain farming The colony is tightly managed by the Lunar Authority which is controlled from Earth Set in the later The Moon is a Harsh Mistress what a title, sometimes I wonder if this book is considered such a classic in large part due to that title Despite some imperfections, it does have much to offer, especially being published in the mid 1960 s The setting revolves around a former Lunar penal outpost, which has evolved into a highly functioning colony with ice mining and successful grain farming The colony is tightly managed by the Lunar Authority which is controlled from Earth Set in the later 21st century, Heinlein imagines an intriguing future, publicizing some groundbreaking technology and ideas We not only have sentient computers, rail guns, fusion power, space battles with laser guns, we also have a Lunar dialect, unique family and marital structures, and different social norms, sprung out of living in a harsh and compact environment After establishing this future, the book explores a lunar revolution Take the American Revolution narrative, mix it with the Australian evolution from a penal colony to an independent nation, stir in some libertarian ideology and you have the plot.When I first read this book in the mid 1980 s it was later high school or early college years, I can t quite remember I was astonished by the concepts in this book I was intrigued by the sentient computer and the concept of using a rail gun for space travel supply logistics Moreover, It was the first time I was truly interested in politics and political principles I mean, I had some lessons in high school around government, but I found it mind numbingly boring This book triggered something intellectually that made me think deeply about government philosophy Since then, I ve considered the book one of my favorite science fiction books, if not overall favorite books So, I almost regret this reread, afterwards, as I just couldn t ignore some of its flaws.The primary issue with this book is sexism I m sure at the time of its writing it was probably considered progressive in terms of how it treated female characters I mean one of the central figures of the revolt is a woman And the women on the moon control large, extended families with polygamous relationships Women are revered and sexual advances are not allowed without permission Advanced thinking for the early 1960 s, right Well, unfortunately, you only need to go one step deeper to dig down to the issues Women are only revered and not touched or raped due to their scarcity The constant threat of other males tossing violators out an airlock is what creates this situation It s still socially acceptable to catcall and ogle women, and in this reality, women enjoy this type of lecherous attention because they don t have to worry about rape While one of the central characters is one of four founding members of the revolution, her role is often to gain interest and support due to her attractiveness And when miners are reluctant to main defensive laser positions, the solution is to provide pretty women at the posts as well, problem solved Another issue includes a tremendous amount of exposition It does help that its written in first person, so at least the infodumps are coming from the mind of the protagonist, instead of an anonymous narrator The exposition also serves to move the plot along quickly at times, when complex setting, political, and technical information needs to be established However, it did limit my enjoyment to continuously run into large blocks of narration Despite these flaws, it s still an important book Using science fiction to explore political affairs and alternate social structures set a foundation that many future authors built upon Might we not have The Handmaids Tale without this book Possibly Was it brave in the 1960 s to explore alternate social structures such as polygamy Definitely Did the book popularize some intriguing concepts such as the importance of the moon s weak gravity well, sentient computers, and rail guns Absolutely In the context of history, I still rate this book highly However, I feel compelled to take away at least half a star in recognizing some underlying issues TANSTAAFL Four and a half stars, rounded up to five for this Hugo Award winning, philosophical yet action packed tale Imagine a prison colony on the MoonNow add a new and updated twist on the American war of independenceA self aware computer that actually runs the colonyA non political computer engineerA beautiful freedom fighterA politically cynical professor The birth of a new nationAnd you have one of the best hard science fiction tales ever image Prison HistoryMy Grandfather Stone claimed that Luna was only open prison in history No bars, no guards, no rules and no need for them Back in early days, he Imagine a prison colony on the MoonNow add a new and updated twist on the American war of independenceA self aware computer that actually runs the colonyA non political computer engineerA beautiful freedom fighterA politically cynical professor The birth of a new nationAnd you have one of the best hard science fiction tales ever image Prison HistoryMy Grandfather Stone claimed that Luna was only open prison in history No bars, no guards, no rules and no need for them Back in early days, he said, before was clear that transportation was a life sentence, some lags tried to escape By ship, of course and, since a ship is mass rated almost to a gram, that meant a ship s officer had to be bribed.Some were bribed, they say But were no escapes man who takes bribe doesn t necessarily stay bribed I recall seeing a man just after eliminated through East Lock don t suppose a corpse eliminated in orbit looks prettier Slaves of the systemThat we were slaves I had known all my life and nothing could be done about it True, we weren t bought and sold but as long as Authority held monopoly over what we had to have and what we could sell to buy it, we were slaves.But what could we do Warden wasn t our owner Had he been, some way could be found to eliminate him But Lunar Authority was not in Luna, it was on Terra and we had not one ship, not even small hydrogen bomb There weren t even hand guns in Luna, though what we would do with guns I did not know Shoot each other, maybe.Three million, unarmed and helpless and eleven billion of them with ships and bombs and weapons We could be a nuisance but how long will papa take it before baby gets spanked A computer with a sense of humor Mike, her name is Wyoming Knott I m very pleased to meet you, Mike You can call me Wye Why not Mike answered.I cut in again Mike, was that a joke Yes, Man I noted that her first name as shortened differs from the English causation inquiry word by only an aspiration and that her last name has the same sound as the general negator A pun Not funny Wyoh said, Quite funny, Mike I I waved to her to shut up A good pun, Mike Example of funny only once class of joke Funny through element of surprise Second time, no surprise therefore not funny Check I had tentatively reached that conclusion about puns in thinking over your remarks two conversations back I am pleased to find my reasoning confirmed How to deal with a spyThe thing to do with a spy is to let him breathe, encyst him with loyal comrades, and feed him harmless information to please his employers These creatures will be taken into our organization Don t be shocked they will be in very special cells Cages is a better word But it would be the greatest waste to eliminate them not only would each spy be replaced with someone new but also killing these traitors would tell the Warden that we have penetrated his secrets How to fight backLet s get back to the basic problem how we are to cope when we find ourselves facing Terra, David facing Goliath Oh Been hoping that would go away Mike You really have ideas I said I did, Man, he answered plaintively We can throw rocks Bog s sake No time for jokes But, Man, he protested, we can throw rocks at Terra We will And throw rocks is what they do.A space war with rocks Enjoy 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 libertarianism2 A raging fascist, homophobe, and misogynist3 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 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 libertarianism2 A raging fascist, homophobe, and misogynist3 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 themes , showing little tolerance for moderate opinions Without a blink of irony, he also placed a premium on pragmatism And the balance of pragmatism and idealism or, rather, the illusion that the two can coexist effortlessly is what The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is all about It is the story of a lunar colony s revolt, in the same way that The Fountainhead is a book about architects an insulting comparison Heinlein s prose is significantlyreadable than Ayn Rand s You see, it s really about libertarianism or, as one of the book s heroes characterizes it, rational anarchism So, a small group of revolutionaries attempts to liberate the moon from her Earthbound oppressors, and institute a perfect anarcho syndicalist commune in their stead They set about doing this, of course, with the help of a sentient supercomputer They organize the people of Luna, and succeed in overthrowing the existing government, but in so doing upset the nations of Earth After all, the moon has been shipping grain down to help feed Earth s starving masses, so they re a little cranky when the Lunies threaten to cut off the supply you d be cranky living on 1,800 calories a day too Coincidentally, the ruling philosophy on Luna is the maxim TANSTAAFL There Ain t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch I mentioned that Heinlein was subtle, right So they go to war, and then, in the novel s single biggest twist, the computer doesn t turn evil I could hardly believe it.Although the book is riddled with bizarre moments that nag one s attempts to suspend disbelief the most persistent being Mike the Computer s regular updates as to the revolutionaries probability of success, which starts out at 1 7, and then as everything proceeds to go perfectly to plan drops to as low as 1 100, in unapologetic defiance of all mathematical logic , the plot s weaknesses don t matter Heinlein is a gifted novelist, and a natural storyteller Even when the characters decide to take 10 pages off and simply talk politics for a while, it s enthralling And talk politics they do No one flinches at the notion of attempting to institute a perfect democracy run entirely by a handful of exceptional individuals, who themselves defer to the managerial expertise of a supercomputer no tyrannic potential there, right Nor do they worry themselves with the philosophical contradiction of attempting to forge a pacifistic state by means of terrorism and interplanetary warfare those who raise the issue, and thus violate Heinlein s worship at the Altar of Pragmatism, are conveniently Roslined out of the nearest airlock it s okay, they re wormy enough that you won t miss em But all of this simply serves to illustrate Heinlein s mastery of the ideological paradox He sthan smart enough to recognize the inconsistencies of his own personal politics, and to play with them to terrific effect Notably, Heinlein did not self dentify with the majority of his protagonists Instead, his Mary Sues are characters like Stranger in a Strange Land s Jubal Harshaw and, in the case of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Professor Bernardo de la Harshaw er, Paz They are cynical old men who are, in novel after novel, infallible, brilliant, well connected, and almost disturbingly capable.Exit thought why is it that the computer that makes the revolution possible just happens to share its name with the superhuman hero of Stranger In a Strange Land, both of whom disappear suddenly and inexplicably upon concluding their tasks 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 haveexcitement when playing a 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 haveexcitement when playing a game they know they ll win my little nephews seem to have a really enjoyable time kicking my ass at their various new fangled video games personally i don t get it, but they seem to love illustrating how easy and exciting it is, the thrill of watching all their strategies and skills coming to predictable fruition even when there is no real competition their eventual win is obvious and that s the impression that i m left with after reading the enjoyable Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.the novel is about a revolution on Luna by its oppressed permanent labor force far in the future, the moon is the newest Prison Island once you are transported there, you can t come back and there you work, mainly to export grain, and live a life of economic exploitation by The Lunar Authority you will alway live in this proletariat society overall, it is actually not a horrible existence the Loonies are an enjoyable lot, unpretentious and down to earth, concerned mainly with beer, gambling, and the ladies Heinlein creates an odd and i suppose semi utopic world, with a pleasing lack of laws a kind of libertarian anarchy of sorts and a surprisingly liberated view on women basically, women are the social family romantic Boss of It All not truly a matriarchal society per se, but rather one built around the need to make sure women are completely empowered apparently due to the 2 to 1 status of men to women on the moon, and the need for women to be available to muchthan monogamy, if they so chose.still, despite the basic lack of horror in this odd world it s no fun to be exploited by bureaucratic overseers and so must come REVOLUTION we have our friendly no nonsense Everyman, we have our bewitching passionate Lady in Hiding, we have our amusing highly intellectual Idealistic Professor and of course we have our sentient computer Mike, who likes to play games and revolution is just another kind of game, right the writing is breezy, casual, and in a sort of pidgen english a kind of cross between baby talk and our very own text messaging style that style should be annoying but actually isn t much like with HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey, we have a fascinating computer who provides all of the genuinely emotional and resonant moments in the narrative and perhaps because of the time period in which the novel was written, but certainly topical today we have a step by step account of How To Make A Revolution Work Heinlein s passions come across mainly in the world building of this almost utopia and in the very detailed expression of how exactly to overthrow the chains of oppression through revolution and i suppose a bit of terrorism, at times.so back to my original point i liked this novel, but i would never consider reading it a second time it was fun but the outcome was never in question Heinlein loads the dice by making sure that everything happens as projected, each step of the way no tension and a tension free revolution is a curiously child like enterprise child like but not childish there is a sweet na vet to it all Heinlein jerry built this revolution to be won and so i never felt any kind of nervousness, i never worried the only stakes that were meaningful to me were the rather slight emotional stakes around Mike the computer his past loneliness, his concern about whether he is actually sentient, and his need to have friends, to talk to people who are not stupid aww that s adorable Mike, i m not super smart or anything, but i ll be your friend cute little revolutionary computer minds are very appealing to me It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of a former penal colony on the Moon against its masters on the Earth It is a tale of a culture whose family structures are based on the presence of two men for every woman, leading to novel forms of marriage and family It is the story of the disparate people, a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic who become the movement s leaders, and of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to the revolt s inner circle, who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution s ultimate success One of the presents for my mother this Christmas was anEcho Alexa Having recently reread Robert Heinlein s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I couldn t stop thinking about the parallels between the awakened computer, Mycroft Mike in this novel and Alexa This connection was reinforced when people kept asking Alexa to tell a joke While he helps the former convict Lunar settlers in a rebellion against Earth, MIke s obsession remains fixated on jokes and whether they are funny only once, One of the presents for my mother this Christmas was anEcho Alexa Having recently reread Robert Heinlein s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, I couldn t stop thinking about the parallels between the awakened computer, Mycroft Mike in this novel and Alexa This connection was reinforced when people kept asking Alexa to tell a joke While he helps the former convict Lunar settlers in a rebellion against Earth, MIke s obsession remains fixated on jokes and whether they are funny only once, in a given situation or always funny Maybe Alexa is not on the verge of becoming self aware however, the idea that artificial intelligence could awaken is explored in an interesting way by Heinlein in 1967 without the knowledge of what AI looks like now The Moon is a Harsh Mistress feels a little clunky in my reread, but this side plot Mike awakening works well with the main plot overthrowing Earth s control of the Moon I would also have likedon the implications of Mike s awakening, but overall Heinlein tells an interesting and enjoyable story about the not so distant future If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.On How to Spin a Top Notch Yarn of Bullshit The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A HeinleinThe usual pretty crude pneumatic sex fantasies cropped up But women actually have a pretty dominant role in Heinlein s lunar society It s a penal colony, and Heinlein reckons that means there are going to be far fewer women then men there so he s come up with a system called line marriage wherein a few women in a household shar If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.On How to Spin a Top Notch Yarn of Bullshit The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A HeinleinThe usual pretty crude pneumatic sex fantasies cropped up But women actually have a pretty dominant role in Heinlein s lunar society It s a penal colony, and Heinlein reckons that means there are going to be far fewer women then men there so he s come up with a system called line marriage wherein a few women in a household share numerous husbands And the head of the household is a woman and women call the shots Meanwhile, outside the home, women are treated with farrespect than they are on earth because they are so rare and precious Obviously, he s not going to get any badges from feminists, but he does at least ask a few interesting questions about the way women were viewed in his own worldThe characters explicitly reject using patriotism as a method to revolution I think that Prof De La Paz s rational anarchism is also expressed by Jubal Harshaw in Stranger , though not in as straightforward a manner Both seem to say that it s not that hard to figure out what ideal behavior should be but expecting actual live humans to live up that is impossible After accepting that point, they both want to move on Yep, humans are hypocritical and sometimes hard to live with What of it The other big point of this is that only the direst situation near term cannibalism here justifies butting into other people s business Sadly, this attitude is pretty rare today The characters explicitly reject using patriotism as a method to revolution If you re into SF, read on 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 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 all the while.But I m weird.Still When it comes to the story, the most amazing thing about this novel is not that it s set on the moon or that it has been populated with all of Earth s undesirables, or that they re economic slaves to the Earth Nope It s amazing that this book is actually a How To Guide on how to stage a successful revolution against a technologically and militarily superior foe, from initial planning, leverage, sleeper cells, and of course, political preparation, communication, diplomacy, and economics And, of course, the resulting MASS DEATH of so many innocents Can t forget that.But I suppose the one thing that sticks in my mind most strongly is the planetary computer, Mycroft What a guy gal He she always gets me in the feels That s leverage.Fortunately or unfortunately, I keep on seeing tons of good revolution books or modern SF still stealing from this classic, either knowingly or unknowingly Perhaps all AIs that show up in SF are a reply to Mycroft in one way or another Who knows This is the one that stands out supreme in my mind and perhaps always shall.Call me a Lunatic I dare you This one won the Hugo in 66, but I also place it firmly in one of my top 100 novels of all time Great stuff DNFed it at 55 % or so I can t believe that this difficult to read and difficult to follow story is so highly rated on Goodreads.The story is so painstakingly revealed, yet there arequestions than answers The coup prepared by the oppressed moon dwellers seems to take forever.Each successful book has its own audience, or should I say, readership Maybe only the hardcore sci fi crowd rated this beast of a book.Maybe the usual romance reading housewives had a hand in rating this book 4 or 5 DNFed it at 55 % or so I can t believe that this difficult to read and difficult to follow story is so highly rated on Goodreads.The story is so painstakingly revealed, yet there arequestions than answers The coup prepared by the oppressed moon dwellers seems to take forever.Each successful book has its own audience, or should I say, readership Maybe only the hardcore sci fi crowd rated this beast of a book.Maybe the usual romance reading housewives had a hand in rating this book 4 or 5 stars, but I can t see this happening I m amazed that I lasted that long 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 sof a political story, and the Lunar dialect is just a slightly stilted pidgin whose most notable features are the 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 sof a political story, and the Lunar dialect is just a slightly stilted pidgin whose most notable features are the omission of articles and pronouns, and the odd Russian influenced word.GOOD START, BIG IDEASIt starts off promisingly, immediately introducing big issues around artificial intelligence Mike short for Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock s brother is a supercomputer who enjoys jokes and playing pranks, which is an entertaining concept, but does he also have self awareness, free will, emotions, personality and so on The other principal character is Manuel aka Mannie and Man , who is Mike s chief programmer and engineer Oh, and a stupidly named woman, Why Not albeit spelt Wyoming Knott, but usually abbreviated to Wyoh.Then it threw in issues of prison, punishment, freedom, civilisation, redemption, and some of the practicalities of living on the moon low gravity, habitats, air, economics Oh, and different types of marriage necessitated by a society with a huge gender imbalance polyandry, clan marriage and line marriage though the details and differences were not clearly explained In this community, the scarcity of women gives thempower in relationships, which is a nice idea, but the opposite of what seems to be the case in China, decades after their one child policy was introduced, with reports of young women being abducted and forced into marriage.Most of the humans living in tunnels on Luna are free either the descendants of deported criminals, or they have served their time In either case, they are too acclimated to return to the high gravity of Terra There is no need for actual prisons, or even laws, because there is nowhere to escape to The main industries are ice mining, and hydroponic farming for the latter, they import fertilizer from Terra and then export the grain But why go to the expense of all the transport to and from Luna, when they could do the same in tunnels on Terra POLITICS, COLONIALISM and MORE POLITICSUnderstandably, some of the Loonies as they call themselves want independence from the exploitation of The Authority and its Warden, sent from Terra.Cue LOTS of socio political stuff It s not a long book, so I ploughed on, assuming it would return to form, but it didn t Instead, I read endless discussions of political theory and tactics it s all about the cell system and money laundering , meetings and diplomatic missions, and eventually view spoiler war hide spoiler There are plenty of parallels with GB and Australia, but nothing startlingly original.One thing Heinlein did get right was the fundamental importance of communications, including mobile and covert and also social media not that he called it that, but irreverent propaganda was used to undermine the Authority and create unrest However, everything seemed too easy Mike was such a super supercomputer, and he had no competition I kept waiting for something dramatic and unexpected to happen, but Mike was TOO omniscient and omnipotent for dramatic tension.ENDINGA few final paragraphs tried to bring it full circle, by contemplating computer consciousness and emotions, but it felt forced and rushed