The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Robert A. Heinlein was the most influential science fiction writer of his era, an influence so large that, as Samuel R. Delany notes, “modern critics attempting to wrestle with that influence find themselves dealing with an object rather like the sky or an ocean.” He won the Hugo Award for best novel four times, a record that still stands. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was the last of these Hugo-winning novels, and it is widely considered his finest work.

It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people–a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic–who become the rebel movement’s leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution’s ultimate success.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the winner of the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Tom Clancy has said of Robert A. Heinlein, “We proceed down the path marked by his ideas. He shows us where the future is.” Nowhere is this more true than in Heinlein’s gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where “Loonies” are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death.

Nanci Arvizu, Writing and Reviews Editor

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3 Comments

  1. A stunning achievement in hard-science and hard-politics Written at the peak of Robert A. Heinlein’s creative powers in the mid-sixties, “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” ranks with “Stranger in a Strange Land” as his most popular and acclaimed novel. Heinlein was furiously ingenious at this stage in his career, and this novel is an incredible feat of imagination, intellect, and writing talent. It is, however, a difficult and heavy novel (much like “Stranger in a Strange Land”), loaded with hard science and even harder politics: Heinlein at his best is…

  2. Blueprint for Revolution This is my favorite Heinlein novel, and I’ve read all of Heinlein’s works. It is a great mixture of adventure, humor, politics, technology, some thought provoking looks at alternate types of marriages, and the most lovable sentient computer ever to grace the pages of a novel. Mike (the computer) is really the star of this book, from loving to tell jokes, to deciding to help a group of revolutionary-minded Luna ‘citizens’ actually accomplish their dreams of freedom because the human…

  3. A Classic of Sci-Fi that holds up well I just re-read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress after not having read it since I was a teenager. (Well, that was in the 60’s, oof.) I must say, this book holds up well against science fiction written far after it, and also after the technological surges of the 90’s that made computers a household item and not just a device at work that spewed out yellow punchtape. 

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