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#23 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

In the future, earth has found a way to live on the moon and have turned it into a dumping ground for prisoners and other individuals. But by the year 2075, the majority of people that live on Luna are not prisoners, and they're tired of being treated as second class citizens. Manny, a computer repairman, is one of these people. After attending one meeting, he finds himself caught up in a revolution, one that he will end up spearheading along with the eloquent Professor Bernardo de la Paz, the passionate Wyoming Knott, and a self aware computer named Mike.

One of my biggest strengths of a reader is after consuming books at a rapid rate for close to twenty years is I really know what I like, and usually end up picking up books that I enjoy. This is also one of my biggest weaknesses as I am usually unwilling to try new things and branch out into new genres. As a result I've made it one of my goals for 2010 to read wider. Let me tell you, this highly political sci-fi novel from the 1960s is way out of my comfort zone, something I realized right away when I kept on stumbling over the futuristic dialogue, which drops many words we would deem necessarily, and is sprinkled with many non-English words, and made up words. Fortunately, once I got used to the speak of the “Loonies” I found myself entranced with this detailed, intelligent novel.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a story of revolution. It's filled with hard politics, moves fast, and expects you to keep up. I thought selecting Manny as the protagonist made it easier to slip into this world. Although he is very much a Loonie (citizen of Luna, or the moon) he's also set apart slightly by his disability (he's missing an arm which he replaces with a number of mechanical ones), and has been educated on earth, giving him both an outside and insider stance. He's upset at the way the Authority runs the moon, but he's also skeptical about rebelling, at least initially. He brings up many questions that the reader themselves may be asking, making him very easy to relate to, and also making it easier to understand the cause he ends up fighting for, even if I didn't always agree with their methods. I also really enjoyed the character of Mike. I honestly felt that every scene with him in it was ten times more enjoyable than the scenes without him, and enjoyed watching his development into a more complex being.

I'm impressed at the amount of detail that went into this book. In addition to it's politics, we learn a lot about their unique family structure, history, and culture. Any element that may seem strange to us (for exmaple- Manny's line marriage) is explained in a logical manner that makes sense giving their history. Although it was a very different type of book for me, in pacing, and setting (I don't read too much sci-fi, but I'm looking to read more), the world building and characters did a good job of drawing me in that it didn't take too long to get over any initial awkwardness and confusion. This is my first book by Robert Heinlein, but I am looking to read more.

Rating: four and a half stars
Length: 382 pages
Source: The Unveristy of Rhode Island Library (I actually ordered this through Inter Library Loan, so if you go to URI, you won't find it on the shelves!)
Similar Books: Although the resolution was quite different, this book reminded me a lot of Orwell's 1984.
Other books I've read by this author: None!

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