The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

Review of the book The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein.
2016-06-20 – ⁠2022-09-11 finishedSource published on: 1966

What if a Lunar colony rebelled against Earth?

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (1966) is really a book about revolutions, colonialism and alternative family structures. There is some science fiction like the setting and the fact that one of the characters is an AI but they feel secondary to the main topics.

**WARNING: Spoilers ahead**


The plot centers around a human Lunar colony that decides to rebel against Earth because it’s exploiting all of its resources. Earth sent riff-raff to the Moon generations ago and now, the second or third generation settlers, with the help of an almost omniscient AI, figure out that if they don’t do anything they will run out of food and resources very quickly so they decide to revolt. The rest of the book explains how to do it and why (all from how to conduct negotiations to how much force to apply and how to establish secure communication networks in an insecure environment).

I would have toned down the didacticism a bit but I liked some of the ideas that the book explored like how a society with 10:1 women would work (answer: women have the power and have multiple husbands) or whether settlers in a new land are allowed to become a nation or should be a colony of the nation that sent them.

Some quotes follow.

On human psychology:

Prof set us straight: easier to get people to hate than to get them to love.

On revolution:

Revolution is a science only a few are competent to practice. It depends on correct organization and, above all, on communications. Then, at the proper moment in history, they strike. Correctly organized and properly timed it is a bloodless coup. Done clumsily or prematurely and the result is civil war, mob violence, purges and terror.

On Mike, the AI:

I got annoyed and had to remind myself than from Mike’s viewpoint analyzing jokes was just as important as freeing Luna — and you don’t break promises to a child.