The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Book description

In 2075, the Moon is no longer a penal colony. But it is still a prison...

Life isn't easy for the political dissidents and convicts who live in the scattered colonies that make up lunar civilisation. Everything is regulated strictly, efficiently and cheaply by a central supercomputer, HOLMES IV.


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Why read it?

8 authors picked The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’m going old-school, back to one of the grandfathers of science fiction, Robert Heinlein.

Not only is his book a masterful example of character-driven storytelling, but it takes a critical eye to many of the things our current society takes for granted as being “true” and “right,” finding them wanting. It’s also been a huge influence on me in my writing, as have many of Heinlein’s other works, and I couldn’t not put it in here.

I both loved and was fascinated by the way the hero computer takes on board the concerns and ambitions of its human friends to the point where it uses all the powers available to it to lead a revolution. This book is a classic of science fiction, but, when I re-read it recently, I found no shortage of contemporary resonances in its political situations. It’s also not a bad handbook for anyone wanting to lead their own revolution! It’s my 5th recommendation because of a caveat: be prepared for some seriously outdated social attitudes. And hear me roar: “It’s not…

Heinlein, who served in the Navy, is best known for Starship Troopers, but The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a more nuanced tale about rebellion, politics, and war. I have a PhD in political science and I worked on the staff of the US Army/USMC Counterinsurgency Center, so I have a soft spot for Moon. Military science fiction and fantasy (SFF) is awash in stories about state-sanctioned military forces duking it out with cool tech, but Moon tells about the rebels. The Loonies launch a shoestring rebellion using a self-aware supercomputer, an electromagnetic catapult, and a DIY…

In this, another tour de force by Robert Heinlein, the star of the book is not the protagonist, but rather the setting. The Lunar Colonies have been so thoroughly imagined in every detail that you will find yourself being sucked into the storyline. 

The characters and plot are engaging also. This, too, is a story of conflict, determination, and hope.

Robert Heinlein is responsible for my early addiction to science fiction. Of the many books this pillar of the genre wrote, this one is my favorite. A sentient AI is not a new concept, but whoever thought of “bombing” Earth with rocks launched from the moon? In its war for independence, a moon colony resorts to this tactic. And yes, I believe many of us are ignorant enough that we would show up to watch the missiles hit, unaware of the devastation they would cause. Written with warmth and wit, this novel also contains one of my favorite pieces of…

From Catherine's list on science fiction from the backlist.

This is the best science fiction novel of all time, in my opinion. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a smart, thought-provoking masterpiece that does exactly what a great science fiction novel is supposed to do: force you to reevaluate the views and opinions you have of the world. If you don’t come out of reading this changed, then you might not be human.

The people of Luna (Earth’s moon) want to be free, no longer vassals of Earth. When they realize survival has become a life-and-death situation, the revolution begins.

Earth’s government may have atomic weapons and space ships, but Luna’s revolutionaries have Mike, a brilliant and humorous sentient computer, and another secret weapon. An obvious one when you consider the potential energy at the top of a gravity well thirty-two feet per second deep.

I love the iconoclastic feel of this story. Rational anarchists wanting to be left alone to live, love, and prosper. There’s a reason this book has remained in…

From Miles' list on action adventure for Individualist.

Robert A. Heinlein's masterpiece The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was, if I recall, one of the first books I bought with my own money. In it, Luna City is a bustling colony—of inmates—about to declare its independence. 

Heinlein envisioned a colony that, by necessity, developed new societal rules to cope with the realities of scarce resources and skewed demographics—ideas that expanded my young mind perhaps more than my parents would have liked! The main characters foment a revolution to liberate the Moon from Earth's governance, with the assistance of a newly sentient computer. And in this novel Heinlein introduced…

From Gray's list on near-future, near-space.

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