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The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress | [Robert A. Heinlein]

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

In what is considered one of Heinlein's most hair-raising, thought-provoking, and outrageous adventures, the master of modern science fiction tells the strange story of an even stranger world. It is 21st-century Luna, a harsh penal colony where a revolt is plotted between a bashful computer and a ragtag collection of maverick humans, a revolt that goes beautifully until the inevitable happens. But that's the problem with the inevitable: it always happens.
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Publisher's Summary

In what is considered one of Heinlein's most hair-raising, thought-provoking, and outrageous adventures, the master of modern science fiction tells the strange story of an even stranger world. It is 21st-century Luna, a harsh penal colony where a revolt is plotted between a bashful computer and a ragtag collection of maverick humans, a revolt that goes beautifully until the inevitable happens. But that's the problem with the inevitable: it always happens.

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.

What the Critics Say

  • Hugo Award, 1967

"Adrenalizing, mind-stretching, conviction-testing...unmatched by any contemporary!" (Theodore Sturgeon)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-28-14
    Joe SEATTLE, WA, United States 03-28-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story, Amazing Narration"
    Would you listen to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress again? Why?

    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.


    What does Lloyd James bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 04-15-11
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 04-15-11 Member Since 2015

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book, great narration"

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn 04-25-08
    Lynn 04-25-08
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    "well done presentation"

    I read the book many, many years ago and was very favorably impressed with the narration and tone. The audio was excellent.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shafik Monte CaparicaPortugal 12-01-07
    Shafik Monte CaparicaPortugal 12-01-07 Member Since 2013
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    "wow!"

    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 ;-)

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen Beeman Seattle, WA 05-06-08
    Ellen Beeman Seattle, WA 05-06-08 Listener Since 2006
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    "Wonderful audiobook"

    One of Heinlein's best books, beautifully read by an excellent narrator.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryan Monument, CO, United States 08-10-12
    Bryan Monument, CO, United States 08-10-12 Member Since 2012

    ColoradoRight

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    Story
    "A Fair Dinkum Thinkum"

    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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Fayetteville, GA, USA 06-23-07
    Mark Fayetteville, GA, USA 06-23-07
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    "Great story and excellent narrator!"

    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!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gordon Beaumont, TX, United States 03-14-07
    Gordon Beaumont, TX, United States 03-14-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Just excellent"

    I thought I had outgrown Heinlein but I loved this book. If you "get" Ayn Rand you will find this story engrossing. However, if your heroes are Jesus or Che Guevara, then you may want to look elsewhere.

    16 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict 05-03-14
    AudioAddict 05-03-14

    I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!

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    "Interesting concept but never turned me on"

    STORY (classic sci-fi) - This book is highly rated by lots of reviewers and won the Hugo Award in 1967 when it was written. It is well done, thought-provoking and possibly even genius, especially considering that most of what is described in the book isn't outdated today in 2014. The story is set in the year 2075 (I think). It's about human prisoners and their descendents who live in an underground penal colony on the moon. They want to be recognized as a free people and plan a revolt against earth. There are a handful of main characters, including an almost-human computer who masterminds the revolution. You will hear how they gain followers and organize themselves, negotiate with earth, fight for their freedom by catapulting rocks at earth and, finally, establish their fledgling government. The summary describes it as "hair-raising" -- I would describe it as detailed, philosophical and political, but maybe that's just me.

    The problems I had with the book are twofold: First, even though the characters are likeable, I never cared about them and, thus, never cared about their revolution. Second, I just don't think I am the right type of listener for this type of book. There are lots of things that are thought-provoking, but then I would get bored with the detail and the emotionless presentation.

    This is how the entire book sounds: Reader has Russian accent. Book not hard follow but written different. No pronouns and short sentences. Didn't bother much but might want hear sample.

    PERFORMANCE - Narrator did a good job, given what he was reading.

    OVERALL - (Actual rating 2.5) I would recommend you read lots of reviews and determine if you have the right type of mind and mood to listen to this book. I apparently didn't.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 02-27-14
    Katherine St. Johns, FL, United States 02-27-14 Member Since 2014

    I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!

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    "The American Revolution in an SF context"

    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!”

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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