Book Review: the Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Posted on June 11, 2011


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Ahh, one of my favorite writers of all time. Robert Anson Heinlein.
This is one of the classical ‘old school’ science fiction stories by a master at the top of his craft.
The book opens on the main character, a one-armed mechanic, servicing a computer named ‘mycroft Holmes’ or ‘Mike’ for short. The writing is very well put together and many valuable and well-concealed lessons are included in the pages in the reasons why governments should be afraid of their people. It talks step-by-step about both the emotional and physical logistics of the Lunar revolution which are lessons that Heinlein gained himself over the course of a long life.

His protagonists are very human and well-realized characters, although his females are, in classic Heinlein style, more like what women would have to be like to REALLY compete with men… Heinlein himself is clearly a bit of a white knight in all of his books, and this one is no exception, but at the time it was written, White knighting was actually a noble and manly pursuit that got you lots of pootang and a generally happy life.

His men are REAL men…. men that feel fear and yet do the right thing with utter bravery despite it. the premise is very logical and the conclusion lives up to the rest of the book superbly. He has foreseen many of the problems that exist in society today, and has given clear-cut solutions to many of them.

The technology in the book is slightly dated in many ways, but Heinlein never could have seen the explosion in software and hardware that came with the computer revolution… and in many ways, some of the technology he posited is just on the cusp of being fully developed today. This book is TRUE science fiction, not that ‘space opera’ that is so en vogue today, and a lot of the story is based on the logical development of technology as well as human interaction. In all, I consider it an amazingly well-written book that will find a new generation of fans in both military fiction and science fiction afficianados.