Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Reflections: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an interesting book—very different and oddly intriguing.  Set on the moon circa 2075, Robert Heinlein's science fiction story is steeped heavily in historical precedents of revolutions and societal reformation.  Heinlein's libertarianism is apparent and recognizable in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but it's not caricatured.  What the book lacks, however, are characters the reader can connect with and care about. 

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a fairly sophisticated look at the difficulties of revolutions.  Interestingly, so much of what the book showcases is on display in global politics today.  It's tough building a new nation, and the book was obviously inspired by historical events such as the American Revolution.  (The Declaration of Independence is directly referenced and quoted in the book by the "Loonies" to justify their own rebellion).  I love the subject matter and was vey interested throughout the entire book; however, I can see how other readers who care less about such matters or lack historical knowledge of past revolutions, especially the American Revolution, may find the book obtuse and miss key insights. 

The greatest weakness of Heinlein's story is its lack of relatable characters.  Characters are there and they play key and important roles, but that's about as far their involvement goes in the story.  There are few human moments, but there is not enough to endear any of the characters to the reader.  I wouldn't blame someone for starting but not finishing the book because it can feel very detached most of the time. Furthermore, the writing itself in the book is hard to get used to.  My wife, who has a Bachelor's degree in English from Brigham Young University, took a single glance at one page and said: "That's a sentence fragment."  In the context of the book and its style, the grammatical mistakes are not incorrect but it was still jarring to read.

I enjoyed The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  It was interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking.  It was also not terribly fun to read.  It won the Hugo Award in 1967 and deserves acclaim for the creativity and insight it provides within the science fiction genre, but it's not a book I'll recommend to a lot of people.  I liked it, but I'm not everybody.

Other Topics of Interest:
Reflections: The Road to Serfdom
Reflections: Anthem
What Every American Should Read

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