The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Robert A. Heinlein
Denis Dobson (Great Britain)1967/New English Library 1989
ISBN 0 450 50280 5

A really good read.

Mr Heinlein, in Manuel “Mannie” Garcia O’Kelly, has created one of his great ‘Everyman’ characters. Mannie was a driller, living and working on the Moon, until he lost part of an arm in an accident. From there, he switched to computer teching. As he says himself, he was no expert in any one field, but he was an expert generalist with a feel for machines. Mannie is not educated in the traditional sense, but has much life experience and commonsense.

“My old man taught me two things”, he says on the first page, “”Mind own business” and “Always cut cards.”” – a philosophy he follows until the day he meets Mike and … well, that would spoil the story, wouldn’t it?

The Moon, in this story, is Earth’s penal colony, and the inhabitants – “Loonies” – have evolved a distinct culture that features an interesting patois (based in part on Australian slang and Russian) and societal norms for dealing with communal life in a hostile and extreme frontier environment.

I didn’t notice any real technology howlers, though the use of computer printouts to transfer programmes between non-networked computers seems a little dated (though I’m not a programmer – perhaps this is still done?) and was quite impressed at the description of the creation of the computer-generated face of the revolution. Considering that Heinlein wrote this in 1966, the methodology is very reminiscent of the way motion-capture and computer animation works today. Did the former inspire the latter, perhaps?

There is a full review on Wikipedia.

Other books by Robert Heinlein: Farnham's Freehold


Thanks to Berka at The Zhodani Base for the background nebula on this page.