The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein


Science Fiction

The moon is a harsh mistress The Moon Is a Harsh MistressRobert A. Heinlein; Orb 1997WorldCat

The Moon was turned into a penal colony like Australia was in it’s early days. Manuel, “Manny” is third generation Luny, so is free. Manny is the best generalist computer technician on the Moon, and is always called in as a contractor to repair any problems with the main computer that runs most of the systems on Luna. He accidentally discovers that the computer is sentient. He calls the computer Mike.

When Mike’s receptors are turned off in a meeting room, he asks Manny to attend the meeting for him with a recording device. Manny does. When the Warden’s “peacekeepers” break up the meeting with their laser guns, Manny is able to escape with a leader of the “Free Luna” movement. Wyoming Knott is devoted to her cause of freeing the Moon to be separate from Terra/Earth. She Manny’s mentor Professor DePalma, and Mike the computer soon have Manny convinced that the Moon has to become a separate entity under its own rule.

This is a complex, enjoyable novel that Heinlein used to espouse his own political and sexual views. He is able to set up the Lunar government in the manner he feels people should best govern themselves. Manny’s family has co-wives and co-husbands who share all things within the family. There were times I was tired of the hidden preaching. Still, I enjoyed the characters. Manny’s narration was very realistic as he is pulled into a rebellion situation that he had not ever thought would be his destiny. He becomes a leader in a revolution when he had always felt that he was apolitical. He is swept along in a tide; he is surprised to find he knows he belongs with it.

This is Heinlein stretching himself. In the sixties (when this was published) he was switching from his rollicking space fantasies to his more indepth work. Once Heinlein was a permanent fixture in the science fiction genre he was able to take his work into areas of his opinions and philosophies, not just the man in space conquers all. This combines both parts of his work, the early and the later. It is also an interesting study in the workings of a revolution.

7/5/2003 I noticed there is now an abridgement for this at Science Fiction Book a Minute. It’s short and humorous.

More books by Robert A. Heinlein

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