Hugo: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1967)

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Read October 16, 2010 – November 26, 2010

Premise: In the near-ish future, the Moon is used as an international penal colony and the prisoners as well as the free-born, and citizens are essentially enforced labor for growing grain and other foodstuffs for Earth. Finding themselves ill-treated, the citizens of Luna rebel against Earth, aided in this rebellion by a computer mechanic (Manuel Garcia O’Kelly-Davis) who has made friends with a super-computer who has gained sentience (Mike).

Verdict: Heinlein always impresses, but also always manages to piss me off. This time around, he only pissed me off to such a tiny degree that I could ignore my anger. This book is so good. For one, I’m in love with Mike the computer who basically runs everything on Luna, the entire Revolution etc. He’s like Hal’s polar opposite (see 2001: A Space Odyssey) and just makes me want to be nice to my computers, waiting for the day they gain sentience so they don’t rise up against me. At any rate, this novel is (as I was told before) probably the most political of Heinlein’s books—mainly in that it deals directly with a Revolution and the running of a government. The thing that makes Heinlein’s utopian ideals possible, however, is the society they’re placed on—one where anyone truly unsavory who doesn’t play by the rules is simply killed without fuss the second they hit Luna soil. This novel has “Loonie-speak” which is a perfectly intelligible dialect that the citizens of Luna speak: combinations of every language under the sun, mostly English, with a lot of fun slang thrown in, and very few extraneous words that are necessary to formal grammar, but not to comprehension. Heinlein always pisses me off with the way his female characters behave, but never pisses me off enough to overpower my enjoying his books. In this one, I managed to not be pissed off too very much and even enjoy the female characters. All were sexy, hot-mamas who mostly wanted babies (one of my primary piss-off points) and were deferred to and mollycoddled in all things by males, but also occupied positions of power outside places like beauty parlors and kitchens (and inside them too)—in the end, not a thrilling future to look forward too, but not as ridiculous as some of his others.

I highly recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy political thrillers, and theories of how to be moderate and sensible. And to anyone who ever wanted to live on the moon. Or has been in love with a computer.

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