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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

by Rob Friesel

The Moon is a Harsh MistressThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Excellent. Almost perfect. To all of those that say that this is Heinlein’s best work: I agree, and would go so far as to say “by far”.

A few thoughts (in no particular order1):

(1) Chapter twenty-six is probably one of the best single chapters in science fiction literature. Maybe all literature.

(2) Heinlein prevents this from being a five-star work with (surprise!) how he portrays women. Hamstrung, they are, when they ought to be in power. He drops hints that the Lunar society has the most empowered women in history, and yet the families are not matriarchal; and though the Revolution seems to start with Wyoh, she quickly fades into the background (politically); and then every other little detail (one of the kickers for me being during the climactic War Cabinet meeting when our narrator refers to one of the women as “a good little fem that knows when to stay quiet”2). Sigh.

(3) Mike. Poor Mike. So tragic.

(4) “Throw rocks at them.” So great.

(5) Why it gets held up as “a masterpiece of libertarian revolution” however escapes me. Are the “Loonies” libertarians? I suppose so, but if they are it is by accident, by happenstance, and not by design. Manuel’s narrative (both of his own opinions and as he represents Prof) would have us believe that since there is no tradition in the penal colony-cum-nation state of a taxation-for-services model, that it is foreign to them and thus by definition poisonous. But this is a convenient party-line refutation of Lunar Authority claims to ownership/control of the satellite. “We don’t owe you anything because you’ve never actually given us anything.” It’s a Boston Tea Party in extremis3, and perhaps even a bit self-undermining as it’s revealed that (a) Prof later on flat-out admits that they’re stealing4, and (b) the penultimate government that the Loonies settle on winds up sounding pretty traditional anyway5. What does this mean for the tonal qualities of the novel…? It means that it doesn’t really wind up looking like much of a celebration of libertarianism.

Regardless: thoroughly enjoyed.

★★★★☆ on the Goodreads.com scale.

  1. And with “fair warning” of spoiler alerts. []
  2. Or something like that. []
  3. And perhaps, now that I think of it, “seasonally appropriate” with the current political climate? []
  4. Which is to say—as I understand libertarian philosophies, out-right theft is a “crime” even in that political framework. []
  5. In other words: I believe that they levy some taxes at the end there. []

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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