Friday, October 9, 2009

Book: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Summary: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an award winning science fiction novel by science fiction legend Robert A. Heinlein about a revolt on a lunar colony.

In underground colonies of the moon, the population is made up of criminals, exiled political opponents and descendants of such. The Warden, put in charge by Earth officials, is in control of the colonies though the people are, in a way, free. Free to create their own culture and way of life but they still work and get paid by the Authority.

HOLMES IV system, the colonies largest computer, runs most of the colonies and has became self aware. The Authority on Luna hires a contractor named Manuel Garcia O'Kelly Davis, nicknamed Mannie. Mannie is the computers(nicknamed Mike after Mycroft Holmes by Mannie) friend.

After a rally ends in a skirmish with Wardens guards Mannie, and an activist named Wyoh retreat to hide. They get in contact with a local named Professor Bernardo de la Paz. The talks of revolution and the appropriate way to go about ridding themselves of the Warden and the Authority that rules over them. How to make Luna free.

Mannie introduces the two of them to Mike and the four begin that very mission, to start a real revolution.

That's my brief, dumbed down explanation. I'd suggest the really good wiki page on the book here.

Thoughts: I don't know much about politics, so this was a hard one. It discuses libertarianism in a speculative fashion. Even blasts democracy here and there though the main character isn't really libertarian. Though I loved the scene where Mannie is explaining why taxes make no sense where he's from. Why pay social security taxes when you don't get social security?

The information on the social structure of the Loonies(as they call themselves) lives is really the most interesting thing for me. Whether its Mannie explaining Line marriage(a fictional form of Group Marriage) or how the Loonies deal out their own form of justice.

Heinlein definitely knows his science. Especially in the 60s when this book was written. Pointing out the gravitational differences between Earth and Luna and how that effects travelers. As well as talks of computer programming and the such.

The characters are interesting enough. But no one I think I'll remember too well. Though it was nice to see a self-aware computer no try to kill men.

Overall I thought the book was solid but politics, economy, and matters similar give me a headache. This is a science fiction book with lots of politics. I'd recommend only to those who are looking for true science fiction.

The book also popularizedthe phrase: There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch.

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