Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

The face of a man contemplating revolution.
"My point is that one person is responsible.  Always.  If H-bombs exist--and they do--some man controls them.  In terms of morals there is no such thing as 'state.'  Just men.  Individuals.  Each responsible for his own acts."

"Anybody need a refill?" I asked.

Nothing uses up alcohol faster than political argument.  I sent for another bottle.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was excellent.  It tells the story of three characters who start a revolution to free the moon colony, Luna, from its tyrannical Earthside rulers.  If this sounds a little familiar, it's because it is.  Heinlein's scholarly character, the Professor, notes the similarity between their revolution and that of our founding fathers.  This is one of the reasons the book is good: the political angle.  The plot is driven by a libertarian revolution and the characters' various reasons for seeking freedom from the Earth.  A number of chapters include poignant debates between the characters.  Also quite a telling account of the legislative body.

Nonetheless, the book is also extremely funny.  The characters all have a great sense of humor and on multiple occasions (including the passage above), I was laughing out loud.  Another example:  "'I must confess,' said Prof, 'that I find these conflicting reports very conflicting.'"

The highlight of the book, though, is Mike, the recently turned sentient super-computer that gives the revolutionaries their edge.  Mike is a super computer that manages everything in Luna.  After becoming sentient, Mike plays pranks just to see what happened.  The narrator meets Mike/learns of his sudden intelligence because the narrator simply starts talking to Mike.

What is striking about Heinlein's presentation is that, although Mike is wildly intelligent, he does not understand basic human interaction.  As a result, in the beginning of the novel, Mike acts like a child.  For example, Mike asks the narrator to explain humor to him; throughout the novel Mike is as interested in understanding humor as he is in winning the revolution.  I liked this idea: a suddenly sentient intelligence won't know how to act, or why.  It would need guidance.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Isabelle delucys said...

Incredible story! Lucky boy! This story stirs my interest in experiencing being a sub. You make it sound so delicious. When can we expect to see Part 2 Ms. Victoria? I hope it’s soon.

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