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Contents:
  1. Full text of "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress"
  2. Reading The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress again
  3. Provides Examples Of:
  4. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Heinlein's Hugo winners.

Full text of "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress"

And there's just no getting out of it: We're not that sorry to see him go. Much as I love Heinlein — I think I've made that abundantly possibly overabundantly clear in my previous posts — I'm not terribly sorry to be done with him. Heinlein gets painted as a love-him-or-hate-him writer, but for me at least, it's more like love-him- and -hate-him, especially after four books in five months.

What I mean to say is, there's a particular challenge involved in discussing The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress , and I want to be up-front about it:.

Heinlein's primary genius — the quality that more than anything else, I think, earned him fame in his lifetime and thereafter — lay in his ability to examine an idea outside of its real-life social constraints. I mean, yeah, a lot of science fiction does that and so do other genres , but his brilliance was that he could explain how there ought to be no moral objection to, say, polyamory, or sex with a teenager, or sex with a teenage clone of yourself, and still manage to sound like someone's grumpy old grandpa, rather than a radical drugged-out beatnik, while doing it.

This was a very important quality, and I'll say more about why shortly. But it's also a problematic quality, because it paints rather a false picture of how things are.

Reading The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress again

The truth is, in real life, it's often impossible to separate your analysis of something from the social constraints and other particularities surrounding it; it's often impossible to even clearly delineate where the "something" stops and the particularities surrounding it begin. For example, the challenge I'm facing with Harsh Mistress : I can't think about the book right now without considering the other three Heinlein books I've recently read for this series. And even if I held off for a year or a decade before writing about it, I'd still remember something about how I felt now, and I'd certainly have plenty of other thoughts about the author in general.

So, if a big chunk of my experience reading this book boiled down to me thinking, For crying out loud, I am so, so tired of the one and only one voice Robert A. I can't really indict the whole novel simply because I'm past my saturation point with the author. And yet, isn't it also fair to say that gosh, this book would have impressed me more if the tone and characters and plot points had been a little more evolved than the writer's previous works?

OK, that's not entirely fair; let me give credit where it's due: From the opening paragraph, it's apparent Heinlein is trying something different. Harsh Mistress , which is the story of the lunar prison colony's revolt against Earth's government, aided by a super-powerful sentient computer, is narrated in the first person by Manuel Garcia O'Kelly, a computer repairman who speaks Ensign Chekov —esque English with an accent so thick it comes through in print.

I see also is to be mass meeting tonight to organize 'Sons of Revolution' talk-talk" goes that first graf. Ironically, Mannie's voice does just about nothing to mask Heinlein's typical one, and actually calls attention to the author's lack of tonal range by trying to be different and failing. Which also calls attention to the author's other handicaps, the biggest of which is an expanded version of the problem I had with Starship Troopers : Heinlein is an unrepentant deck-stacker.

Provides Examples Of:

First, the circumstances are such that Luna City and the rest of the moon have to revolt, or else they're doomed. And sure, the characters may be planning this dangerous revolution while barely protected from a lethally severe lunar environment — but not to worry, none of them will die at least, not until circumstances are such that the death is poignant rather than tragic.


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In fact, the characters will never have to overcome a single serious obstacle — just a handful of minor road bumps that enable them to demonstrate how capable they are. Enemies and opponents will always be thoroughly incompetent and frequently thoroughly reprehensible so that when they die, no one has to feel bad. And whenever a question arises, every single good guy will arrive at exactly the same answer as the other good guys, because they all use logic to get there — and logically, there is of course always only one right answer to any question. None of these complaints are to say that Harsh Mistress is a straight-up bad book.

As with any Heinlein book, it offers a lot of food for thought and fodder for argument. Mannie uses a computer-circuit diagram to build a model for a foolproof revolution, which is pretty cool. His line marriage — a family in which a chronological series of spouses coexist, raising kids together and occasionally bringing new ones into the fold — is a neat idea, a group that mixes the benefits of a typical genealogy older members who can pass wisdom on to younger members with those of deliberately forged relationships not having to put up with Grandpa's drinking just because he's your mom's dad.

For a few years now, it seems to me that libertarianism of the anarchist blend is at its strongest when it points to the double standard between government agency and the rest of us, and perhaps at its weakest when it tries to come up with more distinctive speculation over a political order fully compatible with liberty competing protection agencies et cetera.

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It reminds me of John Le Carre ok, not that good , whom I consider phenomenal in that respect. That the Moon ends up having no longer a colonial rule, but more government than it had before, may be delusional for 10 year-old me, but makes the novel more compelling for 37 year-old me.

One of my favorites, obviously. Manuel is multi-racial. And the lunar colonies are portrayed as rapidly mixing despite diverse origins for instance, Wyoming is from Hong Kong Luna. The colonists are welcoming of immigration and do not appear to be racial prejudiced. Manuel is also disabled, which he turns to his advantage by using a number of different mechanical arms for different specialized jobs.

Further, you can read a lot of the narrative as rather left-wing, when you consider that the main motivation for the lunar revolution is the gradual loss of water to earth via the grain shipments.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

They also practice what can only be characterized as asymmetric warfare — lobbing meteors at major cities in order to win their freedom. In other words, people from all over the political spectrum should be able to identify with the characters, it is not just a book for libertarians. These voters would not have the power to pass their own laws and tyrannize the less educated, only the power to prevent laws.

This nation might be possessed of enduring prosperity, instead of strangling itself with good intentions and bad causal models. Alas it shall never be. Reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress led me to conceive of the idea of a space elevator. Of course, a few others beat me to it. It has been nominated for the Prometheus Award, a libertarian science fiction award:.

Charles Cargraves and retired General Thayer have to start over again. This time, Gen. Thayer approaches Jim Barnes, the head of his own aviation construction firms to help build a rocket that will take them to the moon.

Together they gather the captains of industry and all pledge to support the goals of having the United States be the first to put a man on the moon.