This is quite simply the best book Robert Heinlein wrote. While the premise is somewhat implausible (ship convicts to the Moon? More economical to ship hydroponic grain from the Moon than to grow it on Earth? - I don't think so), it serves as a platform for Heinlein to explore topics in politics and philosophy. These include: what does it mean to be human? What is the relationship between duty, responsibility and rights?
Heinlein is able to pull this off by embedding the "politics" in a real page turner about a revolt by colonists on the Moon against the tyranny of the home planet. Heinlein keeps the plot zipping along with plenty of action and "gee, whiz!" techno gizmos that are only slightly dated today (the book was first published in the mid-60's).
The characters in this book are the among the most fully realized in all of Heinlein's work. The narrator is a one-armed computer repairman, whose best friend is only sentient computer in existence, Mike. Heinlein treats Mike's alienation and attempts to become "human" with a light hand and sympathy.
The first person language used in the book contains a rich argot from the dozen or more nationalities that make up the lunar colony. This contributes greatly to make the setting believable and real.
As good as the book is, Lloyd Jones improves on it. His vocal characterizations are wonderful, and brought out elements of the character that I never noticed before, despite having read the book at least a half dozen times in the past.
I would recommend this book whether you are coming to it for the first time, or if you have read it many times before. It puts a fresh face on one of "the Grandmaster of Science Fiction's" greatest works. If you love science fiction, you owe to yourself to give this book a listen.
The Conquering Family is the first of Costain's four volume history of the Plantagenets. It covers the founding of the dynasty, the rise and fall of Henry II, Richard the Lion-Heart and King John (a king so bad no king has been named John since).
This is a fabulous introduction to Medieval English history. Here's hoping that they include the other three books soon.
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