Winner of the 1967 Hugo award, this novel marked Heinlein's partial return to his best form. He draws many historical parallels with the War of Independence, and clearly shows his own libertarian political views.
©1965 Robert A. Heinlein; (P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"Adrenalizing, mind-stretching, conviction-testing...unmatched by any contemporary!" (Theodore Sturgeon)
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I enjoyed the book and loved the narration. I have read many great books and some I have failed to appreciate. This is a classic that I have just failed to appreciate a lot. There were parts that made me laugh out loud. I felt that best character development is exemplified in the computer Mike. Not being so far into the future, 2070 or so, one might expect to identify closely with some of the characters. I did not. The story seemed quite implausible and that says a lot given I have read much more phantasmagorical books that even seemed possible some time in the future. With all the criticism, the book was enjoyable. When I started writing this review I gave the book a rating of 4 stars. As I finish it I have concluded that for me it really only ranks 3.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
“Sometimes I think that government is an inescapable disease of human beings. But it may be possible to keep it small, and starved, and inoffensive.”
It’s the year 2075. The Earth, which has a worldwide government of Federated Nations, sends its criminals and exiles to the moon where they won’t bother anyone on Earth. The “Loonies” are governed by wardens who require them to grow hydroponic grain which is sent back to Earth. This has been going on for over a century, so the lunar colony is no longer just criminals and exiles. They’ve had families and have built a society, but they’re still treated as Earth’s slave labor force. They do work for Earth, but get no benefits. Now they want to be free.
When a computer technician named Mannie realizes that the moon’s central computer (Mike) is sentient and lonely, he befriends it and they begin, with the help of a professor and a radical young woman, to plan a revolution. Along the way Mike keeps calculating the chances of their success as new developments occur.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the story of the American Revolution (or it could be any revolution) in a science fiction context. Readers familiar with Robert A. Heinlein won’t be surprised that this is an anti-authority story — Heinlein’s libertarian views are on full display and those of us with a libertarian streak will be rooting for the “Loonies” as they lament the inadequacies of representational government and demand a free market, a free press, voluntary rather than compulsory taxation, and the right for all citizens to be free and self-sufficient. (Heinlein’s libertarianism borders on anarchism, though, and his characters don’t seem to have a problem with stealing power, water, and phone services from the government, allowing the computer to steal money for their revolution, or rigging elections.) Heinlein’s fans also won’t be surprised to encounter an incestuous type of polygamy in the “line marriages” of the lunar colony.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of my favorite Heinlein stories. It’s exciting and well-plotted, has strong male and female characters of all ages and races (perhaps Mike the computer is the best character, though!), has some humor, interesting ideas about the purpose of government, and I learned enough about how to run a revolution that I feel like I’m prepared to plan my own. Plus, a catapult on the moon? That’s awesome! (Though Philip K. Dick did it first).
The style of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is noteworthy. The Loonies come from all over the Earth and have developed their own slang. Mannie narrates the story in a choppy voice that skips a lot of personal pronouns and articles and sounds like he’s taking notes:
Proud of my ancestry and while I did business with Warden, would never go on his payroll. Perhaps distinction seems trivial since I was Mike’s valet from day he was unpacked. But mattered to me. I could down tools and tell them go to hell. Besides, private contractor paid more than civil service rating with Authority. Computermen scarce. How many Loonies could go Earthside and stay out of hospital long enough for computer school? — even if didn’t die. I’ll name one. Me. Had been down twice…
Listened to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in audio format. Produced by Blackstone audio and read by Lloyd James. Took little while to get acclimated to Heinlein’s strange style in audio, but Lloyd James did great job, and got hang of it after not too long. Loved what he did with Mike the computer. Recommend this version.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was published in 1966 after being serialized in Worlds of If. It received a Hugo Award and was nominated for a Nebula Award.
“Free Luna! Luna shall be Free!”
Loved this. Great narration. This narrator sets the standard. It has been awhile since I listened and the images are still fresh in my mind. It is amazing that this was written in 1966. It could have been written last year. Excellent story with a great message.
The story in itself is already a classic, I won't even write about that, there's plenty about it on the Net, just search about it.
But what to say of the narration ? simply A-S-T-O-U-N-D-I-N-G !! The narrator does a fabulous job - he did not cease to amaze me with his prowess doing accents, voice pitches, etc, amazing story to be heard!
The bad thing is: It won't believe a single word of what you hear and listen on the TV news anymore, you'll see and appreciate the machinations behind everything from this point on... thanks to professor De la Paz and the rest of the conspiratory group ;-)
I would. As I stated in my title, but narrator does an amazing joo. Of the hundreds upon hundreds of audiobooks I have listened to, this might be the best one yet.
The unusual accent he gives the main character helps the listener to get the feel that the moon is an amalgamation of cultures, races, and people. Manny is truly brought to life by Lloyd, as well as the rest of characters. Each one has a slight;y different feel that grants them their own personality outside of the words tat they are speaking.. Lloyd Games does not over-act or force any of the voices, they seem to flow khi of him.
The story is a great one, especially in today's political climate. Rebellion and revolution and an important and sometimes necessary aspect of life, but is so often forgotten. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress shows how can happen when people come together and stop letting themselves be controlled by tyrants. This theme combined with an incredibly good narrator makes this a must listen.
This is the history of how the lunar penal colony - the only prison that didn't need guards - and how it revolted against the combined might of Earth and became a free nation. The recollections of Manuel Garcia O'Kelly tell the story of how the Lunar Authority's computer, who he nicknamed Mike, became self-aware and developed a sense of humor. And how Mike and Manny and Wyoming Knott and Professor Bernado DeLaPaz started the revolution that freed the Moon.
This is Heinlein at his best. A wonderful story, a self-aware computer (remember this was written in early 1960's when computers were huge boxes with less memory than your phone has today), a very recognizable future based on assumptions that still might be possible today, and characters that you can recognize and empathize with.
And it has one of the most plaintive lines in all of science fiction. "Are you listening Bog? Is a computer one of your creatures?"
The narrator is wonderful and is able to capture the essence of a variety of different characters. However, I must pick one little nit. In all the times I read this story (and they are too many to count) I always heard the line "no hu-hu" as sounding like an owl (hoo, hoo). It is always done as laughter in this version (ha ha) and it just didn't seem correct.
You won't find a better science fiction story, so hurry to add this to your library.
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
I read this a little ways back and am glad I waited to write the review, as the book has grown on me a bit.
When I first finished the book, I left a little disappointed, but as time has gone on, the story, and the presentation, have stuck with me.
First of all, telling the entire story in first person narrative is really unique. How many novels do you know that are written entirely in first person? Short stories - yes, but novels? Not many.... And it is done so well, that it doesn't wear on you.
Plus the idea of how social anarchy works on the moon and the way in which they pursue their independence - all very unique and creative.
It is also slighly humorous to consider Heinlein's idea of what a "future" computer would be like. There are parts of it that he got right, but other parts are somewhat amusing.
Not only a good read, but a fun, thought-provoking book that definitely earns the title of "classic".
This is one of Heinlein's best short novels. The characters are very real but are taking part in a future event - the revolutionary war to free Luna from the tyranny of Earth. Heinlein's talent to make heros out of ordinary people is just plain fun in this story. The narrator has a very expressive voice and a wide range of accents and ways of speaking that mimics the different characters in a very believable and enjoyable way. A good way to get yourself through the work day!
'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' is as enjoyable and controversial today as when I first read the book all those years ago. The story has an interesting setting and first person perpective that I found absorbing and there are points in the narrative where I found it all but impossible to put the book down.
The story is typical Heinlein in that it combines well thought out action and controversial philosophical ideas that are just begging to be discussed and argued over.
I had some initial doubts about Lloyd James as a reader, but having listened to several of his books, I have become used to his voice and feel that he has done this book justice, adding a valuable dimension of characterisation that has helped my visualisation of the story no end.
This reading should appeal to all Heinlein fans.
"The best got better"
I've always loved this book - and it's as old as I am. The first person style, written in a mishmash of languages, just works as does the telling from the perspective of someone caught up - and eventually leading - a revolution.
Then you move to the audiobook version. Instantly it comes to life. Most of it is told in a pseudoRussian accent, but quickly you find this switches with the dialogue. The pace is a little slow at times, but very soon you are into the action. And then when the final chapters kick in you are gripped to the end - even if you know what the ultimate end must be.
Heinlein at his finest? Probably
"Fantastic introduction to Heinlein"
I was given some recommendations on which Robert A. Heinlein books to start out with. Many people suggested I start with “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” and I was not disappointed. A fantastic listen; you are left guessing where things will go right up to the end. The narrator does an excellent job. Overall, extremely enjoyable, and highly recommended.
"My All Time Favorite Sci Fi Book!"
There are many kinds of books. Some are fresh and new, once read, even if enjoyed, you don't want to revisit them. Some you can re-read, maybe just once. Some books you like so much, you can read, and read, and re-read and they become as familiar as a comfy pair of slippers, but remain fresh and new for you every time.
Such a book, for me, is Robert A Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. This classic mixture of science fiction at its best, and political thriller, held me enthralled from the first sentence to the last.
I borrowed the book in dog-eared braille copies, and in special audio format, to revisit it from time to time, and now, thanks to Audible, I have it to keep forever. Given, by Lloyd James, one of the finest narations I have ever heard, this book is a must read for anyone who is into Science Fiction. Everyone I ever introduced to it loved it, so go on, add it to your wish list, or download it today!
"A great book presented well"
This was a much loved book of mine already, and it was a wonderful surprise to have Lloyd James reading it - I really like his style of reading, and in particular how he gives a wonderful flavour of the type of person who is narrating it.
Top marks - thank you!
"Llod James cannot read!"
Terrible reader - listen to the sample before you buy it!
"Teach Yourself English"
Yeah, spoken text almost incomprehensible. I used to teach English as a foreign language -- I would have failed a pupil with an accent like this.
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