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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress Paperback – June 15, 1997
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Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, "We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is." Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“We proceed down a path marked by his ideas.” ―Tom Clancy
Top customer reviews
There is excellent hard science fiction here and the development of artificial intelligence is outstanding, but more impressive are the sociological and anthropological aspects of the story. An example of this is the family constructs which have evolved from the very "male heavy" environment. Of course, polyandry is an obvious solution, and one of those employed, however the idea of "clan marriage" and the far more original and fascinating "line marriage" (a continuous marriage arrangement in which new marriage partners are added with time) are also introduced.
Of course, the political statements contained within the story are front and center and are what set this science fiction work apart from many others of its genre. This novel was written in the 1960s, so some of the technology and scientific principles might seem dated, or off the mark, but I didn't find them to be so erroneous as to detract from the story. A landmark work to be sure, and a blockbuster at the time it was written. It has aged better than many of its contemporaries, but falls just below what I would consider to be a current, five star experience.
As the plot unfolds, Heinlein has an opportunity to play out not only his deep knowledge of science (much of which seems pretty basic by today's standards--hand programing a computer by typing lengthy commands?) but a semi-anarchist view of politics. He summarizes Loonie political philosophy as "There Is NO Such Thing As A Free Lunch." This means everyone has to work and pay for what they need (including air, which is in short supply on the moon), but also that everyone forms extended families who undertake care for the elderly.
Heinlein does a great job of moving the story forward, developing a couple of characters we care about (including oddly the supercomputer, and building anticipation towards several well paced climaxes of the narrative. The science is right, and fairly complex, but Heinlein does such a good job of explaining it, and integrating it into the story, that it never distracts.
This is the first Heinlein I have ever read (which is embarrassing, since the book is now over 50 years old!), but it definitely will not be the last.