Monday, January 11, 2010

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Having never heard of this book let alone Robert Heinlein (sorry my science fictiony meter must be running low, and I was concentrating on being born in the 60's and couldn't yet read), I had many assumptions about what the title meant before I read it:

- The moon was a hooker and the Earth her pimp.
- The moon was inhabited with an Amazon group of women who took over the Earth.
- And then Amazon women flew on a Wonder Woman spaceship and took over the galaxy, after killing all the men.

So, obviously, I really hadn't a clue what this book would be about, but now that I've read it the title makes perfect sense. It was ingenious really (the book did win a Hugo after all), as was obviously its famous author, Robert Heilein, a man so good at writing science fiction in the 60's, they named a Mars crater after him - no unnamed craters on the Moon I guess . That would've made more sense because....

Set in 2075, a former penal colony on the Moon (Luna) rebels against its masters on Earth. Having been transplanted, and some were even born there, on the Moon for so long now, this population of people have evolved almost into their own species (think Galapagos Islands) having there own novel ideas regarding marriage and family customs, some have their own dialects, and because of less gravity, they age slower and move their bodies differently than humans on Earth. Tired of being treated as second class citizens, a revolution takes hold.

Four unlikely cast of characters move this cause forward - a computer technician who can't figure out how he got dragged into this, a Marilyn Monroe type female anarchist who kisses instead of shaking hands, an elderly academic who probably wore tweed until his elbows wore through, and then there's Mike, a self-aware supercomputer who reaches his blinkety-blink orgasm by bombing things.

Will Luna be set free? Who will die in the process, because someone always dies if it wins a Hugo Award right?

It says in the book jacket - A great political novel and a great survey of the human prospect. I agree. This is a very forward thinking book, and it was written almost 50 years ago during the tumultuous 60's. A time when young people were battling against the hypocrisy of war, in academia, in government, and any authority that told them what to do. That spills over onto the pages here. But, Heinlein takes his time telling his story, and even though it's a mouthful, it still goes down smooth enough without too many rough edges.

Worth reading at least once. And I'm not even a Republican. (Oops, tea-bagger.)
4 stars.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"The moon was a hooker and the Earth her pimp." - Oh, my stomach hurts from laughing!

Stephanie said...

You know, someone really ought to write a book using your assumptions. That would be awesome!

I've read a bit of Heinlein, and while I can see why everyone praises this one, I prefer his juvenile science fiction and the stuff it seems like he wrote more for fun. Bring on the aliens taking over the earth!

L said...

Yes, I was a bit off on my assumptions wasn't I, but hey anything with wonder woman boobs and hookers would've been great I think.


I should try his other stuff I guess. I hear he went through a sex phase too.

terry said...

great book and great review!

does one of the main (male) characters in TMIAHM have an artificial leg? ISTR Heinlein had a recurring character in several of his books that had this handicap.

i think he was the first major (sci-fi) author to do this - have heroes with disabilities where said disability wasn't a central point of the storyline.

Lula O said...

I think it was his arm if I remember right. He has a robot arm that he can take on and off. He's also the lowest class, in job, speech, etc., and he's the hero. Great point! I should've mentioned that. Sheesh, there were too many points of interest in this book!