Robert Heinlein,
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
(Putnam, 1966; Orb, 1997)

TANSTAAFL - "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!"
- motto of the Lunar Colony residents

This isn't a lunch, it's a banquet. I've read just about all of Robert Heinlein's books -- many of them several times -- starting at about age 9, and this is easily my favorite.

If you want lots of adventure, this details a revolution by Lunar prisoners/colonists (think of Australia's origins). If you want character development, how about a computer that, in a believable way, comes to life?! If you want depth, how about the thinking and planning of a group of intelligent men and women, who review (and mostly discard) numerous theories of how to successfully revolt against an oppressor, as well as how to build a rational post-revolution government that emphasizes freedom and responsibility. And, behind it all, you have the Loonies with their Anglo-Russian dialect and their wonderful customs and mores (many of which we should adopt immediately).

This book is fast, fun reading, and yet there is a richness that is not always present in Heinlein's writing. Contrast this with Methuselah's Children, which impresses me as a quickie that Heinlein wrote to satisfy the market and his publisher. Heinlein put thought into The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and it will make you think. You will also come away cherishing freedom more than many do (we tend to take it for granted).

P.S., The men's attitudes toward women are chauvinistic at times. Keep in mind when the book was written and when the author grew up.

by Chris McCallister
11 February 2006

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