Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

book 7 of 10 for the Book Awards II Challenge (Hugo Award Winner)
genre: science fiction
rating: 4/5

Humans have colonized the moon. At first the moon was a penal colony - criminals were sent there instead of being executed. As time went by and as children were born - a lunar culture evolved as life became more sustainable, yet life on the moon was always under the thumb of the "Lunar Authority," which was headquartered on earth.

Enter Mannie, the one armed computer programmer, Prof, the aged but savvy professor and Wyoh, a political activist. These three, with the help of "Mike", a super-computer who has managed to "wake up," decide that the time is right for the moon and the people on it to become a free nation. And thus begins the revolution that is at the crux of this novel, a fight against Earth's authoritarian rule and for the ability to govern themselves in their own way.

The book is very political. Really, if I wanted to start a grass roots revolution right now, this book is practically a starter manual. All the ideas are told in dialogue so it reads smoothly and is incredibly interesting. I'm not sure I've ever read a book that had me thinking so much about the consequences of political actions. It's also a very technical book, more so than other science fiction I've read. The battles involve massive amounts of computing and technical jargon that I finally just began skipping over because I knew I'd at least understand the outcome.

I believed it. I honestly did, though I had a harder time being sucked in than I thought I would. It wasn't until I got about a third of the way through that I knew I wanted to finish it. Heinlein has created an amazingly evocative and complex culture on the moon, with its own marriage customs and taboos, a multinational history and language. It took me a while to get used to Manny's version of the English language - it's more like the English of someone who spoke Russian first and learned English second, but once I did, it didn't phase me. The characters had heart and "Mike," the super-computer/human, was especially an interesting character. By the end of the book I was completely on the "loonie's" side, anxious to find out whether their plans would come to fruition.

I'd like to publicly thank my younger brother, Christopher, for urging me to try this one. I never in a hundred years would've picked it up on my own, but I found it to be an intelligent and thought-provoking read.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I don't usually go for sci-fi, but the political bent of that one sounds intriguing. Thanks for the review.

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