Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein - Indeed She Is

Pros: A solid science fiction read
Cons: Not for everyone – a lot of telling/info dumping

The Bottom Line: If you feel like reading some Robert A. Heinlein, this isn't really a bad place to start, but you have to know what you're getting into beforehand.

As a part of the Book Club run by Calico Reaction, April's book was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. I was all for it (and yeah, so my review is a tad bit late), and eager to do a bit more Heinlein. I'd already read Starship Troopers, so something else might be interesting.

To be sure, it was. Mannie lives on Luna (the moon) where originally Earth sent convicts (sort of like England with Australia). But over time, it's grown into its own little nation, but the Authority is still screwing everyone over. It's about time for a revolution. At first, Mannie isn't on board, but as the idea grows, it may be possible. With the help of a professor, an energetic young woman, a man from Earth, and a computer that's become self-aware, pulling off their revolution might just work and Luna will once and for all be free.

This s one of those SF books that you read and think, "Tee hee, the 80s" because there are clearly a few things that Heinlein didn't think ahead on. Mostly because it's hard to think so far ahead. I can't specifically remember what some of those instances were, but there were a few and it doesn't really matter anyway because, hey, it's Heinlein and you ought to know better.

What may turn people off at the onset of this book is that it's in first person and Mannie doesn't speak English in the way we do. There are a lot of articles missing, and initially I thought I'd gotten a bad copy of the book and whoever was in charge or proofreading should have been fired. Then I realized what was going on. Mannie has some Russian in/around him, so that's how I managed to cope. I started to read it and use a Russian accent in my head. Okay, so I was going off movies instead of actual Russian, but I found that it helped a great deal and after a while began to read quite fluidly. (And anyone who thinks it's too hard, try to decipher some of the tod's speech in The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams).

While I did enjoy the book, it did take some time to get into. It moves slowly at first, and it wasn't hard for me to put the book down. It maintained my curiosity though, so it wasn't too terribly hard to pick back up after things got interesting. However, at a certain point, there's no true action and instead we're pretty much being told the story by Mannie. Not as it's happening, but as it has already happened, which means no "showing" and a whole lot of info dumping. A lot of things in this book are the very same things most writers, agents, and editors today will tell you not to do because it turns off readers, plain and simple.

There are ideas in this book I found quite interesting, I liked how Heinlein displayed the role of women on Luna (there aren't many, so they pretty much have the run of the place in a way, and messing with a woman is an offense punishable by death), though I didn't quite understand line marriages. But that's sort of unimportant in the big scheme of things.

Bottom line, did I enjoy the book? Yes. Would I recommend it? Sure. But you need to either be familiar with Heinlein's work and/or style first otherwise you might be confused or turned off and possibly put the book down after a handful of pages.


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