The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Quotes

quotes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert A. Heinlein

TitleRating# of Ratings
Is a Machine Alive?4.174

Review of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert A. Heinlein

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a typical Robert Heinlein book. It's mainly set on the moon, has some mildly technical discussion, includes invented slang, and contains some unique/progressive relationships. Although it's not his best work, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an enjoyable read.

The premise of the book, as the title declares, is that "Luna herself is a stern schoolmistress." That is, the conditions on Luna necessitate dealing with and overcoming difficulties, thus making its inhabitants tough. The plot is a first-person narrative revolving around a man, Mannie, a computer, Mike, and compatriots who are trying to win Luna's freedom.

Heinlein goes into great lengths to describe the planning behind the revolution. A significant portion of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is devoted to how an uprising is plotted and brought about. Heinlein is excellent at thinking through details and describing them.

The computer, one of the main characters, becomes sentinent and the book largely revolves around it. Recall that in 1966, when The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was published, computers were much different than our modern PC. Nevertheless, besides a few references to large printouts and "punching," the computer in the book, Mike, is still very relevant and interesting.

Robert A. Heinlein is great at making up slang -- perhaps his most famous invention is "grok," which is now an actual word according to Webster's dictionary. In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress you'll see words such as "da", "dinkum thinkum", and "Gospodin" (which I think is actually a word). Not only is slang mixed in, but the first-person narrative uses a shortened sentence structure throughout the book. For example, early in the text, Mannie, the main character, narrates: "Am not going to argue whether a machine can "really be alive, "really be self-aware. Is a virus self-aware? Nyet. How about oyster?" Notice the missing words. At first this was a bit akward, but it actually adds to the flavor of the book and the unique culture on Luna.

The unique culture in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is also manifest in the familial relationships. Mannie is part of a "line marriage," meaning that there are several husbands and wives across a large age spectrum. When an old one dies, or when they deem necessary, they add on a new spouse. There are also "clan marriages," discussion of a woman marrying two husbands, and some promiscuity among other things. Heinlein does not go into significant detail regarding the physical aspect of the relationships; he mainly sticks to the social aspect and it is somewhat interesting (although I wish the promiscuity would have been left out).

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a good read and if you have read some other more serious science fiction books and are looking for something simple but enjoyable, you may want to give it a shot.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress