Today I shall review The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a novel by Robert A.Heinlein. I've read it many moons ago, but it stayed with me. As someone who studied literature, I've read a lot about revolutions. What I've read often terrified me. I've become vary of revolutions, my attitude to them becoming even cynical. What education taught me with its history lessons, my life seemed to confirm. Nevertheless, as cynical as I have become about revolutions, this novel managed to warm my heart. 

“Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.”

This story about Loonies (residents of Luna i.e. the Moon) rebelling against Earth government is so well written it is really a crime to miss it. As a big a crime as not starting a revolution when revolution is due. If you want to feed your inner rebel with a delicious story of lunar colony rebelling against mother Earth, then what are you waiting for? If you’re feeling philosophical, then this might be a good novel for you. It raises a lot of interesting question. Once you start reading this one, you’ll see it is not really about action (but there is a bit of that so don’t worry, it’s not one of those novels where nothing happens). There are many dialogues in there that will make you think.You want to start a revolution? Why, here is a great handbook for you! Seriously thought, this is one of my favourites by Heinlein. It is political SF at its best. Besides being a great handbook on staging a revolution, this novel has others things going for it. Let’s start with the setting.

Luna Is A Harsh Mistress is set on Moon. No surprise there! What is somewhat surprising is the incredibly detail with which Heinlein describes this Lunar society. The Moon is a colony of Earth and as such has a very different culture, language and just about everything. The way the writer set the story and the care he gave to developing this setting is bloody brilliant.

So, the setting is pretty awesome. Moreover, the story is entertain and high paced while giving you enough food for the thought. What else? Another great thing about this novel is that it has such as a fantastic cast of characters. There is Mike- and he’s a doll. I don't recall any other A.I or computer character that was so lovable. 

"When Mike was installed in Luna, he was pure thinkum, a flexible logic — "High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L" — a HOLMES FOUR. He computed ballistics for pilotless freighters and controlled their catapult. This kept him busy less than one percent of time and Luna Authority never believed in idle hands. They kept hooking hardware into him — decision-action boxes to let him boss other computers, bank on bank of additional memories, more banks of associational neural nets, another tubful of twelve-digit random numbers, a greatly augmented temporary memory. Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons. By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that number of neuristors.
And woke up."

Yet, Mike is definitely my favourite character, but other (human) characters are not any less fascinating, for example there's Miguel. This slightly cynical loonie ( an ingenious term coined to describe a resident of Moon) is for most part a pretty easy-going guy despite the fact that he had his hand cut off and replaced with a tool in order to make a living. I remember this premise being used in some third rate Hollywood movie and it really annoyed me, how they stole that idea like that. But let's back to the characters: Professor Bernardo de la Paz is there for smart ideas and dialogues. Mimi the matriarch was also a lovely character. I'll stop here, although there are more of them that are worthy of mentioning.

“From somewhere, back in my youth, heard Prof say, 'Manuel, when faced with a problem you do not understand, do any part of it you do understand, then look at it again.' He had been teaching me something he himself did not understand very well—something in math—but had taught me something far more important, a basic principle.”

There are many aspects of this novel that make it such a great read. It is a very thought provoking novel, though it may not seem that way at first. Sure it is the story about a rebellion against government and there is some action, but another thing you will get is a lot of interesting lessons about human societies wrapped up in nice dialogues. Dialogues, you say? Yes, many of them between an AI and human beings.

One more thing about this novel. I did say there is a fantastic cast of characters in this one. Accomplishing a complete racial integrity in a natural way is something that many novels still fail to do, but this novel does it. That’s exceptional considering the time when this novel was published. The concept of line marriages is something that was developed nicely and it fit in with character’s development. Loonies feel very much real both as individuals and members of society. By that I mean they are very convincingly portrayed, not just as individuals but as society as well.

"I spent time then soothing Mike down trying to make him happy, having figured out what troubled him — thing that makes puppies cry and causes people to suicide: loneliness. I don't know how a long a year is to a machine that thinks a million times faster than I do. But must be too long."

Now, some may say that it is kind of convenient for a Moon revolution to have a computer that basically controls every aspect of life on Moon on its side. Well, I can’t deny that but that doesn’t mean that is the only reason why our AI is there. 

“Some logics get nervous breakdowns. Overloaded phone system behaves like frightened child. Mike did not have upsets, acquired sense of humor instead. Low one. If he were a man, you wouldn't dare stoop over. His idea of thigh-slapper would be to dump you out of bed — or put itch powder in pressure suit.”

He ( I can’t make myself to call AI it) does help the revolution but his motivation actually makes sense. Heinlein wrote him in a very convincing way, right from his ‘awakening’, through his character development and finally to him becoming a well-rounded character with unique characteristics and a sense of humour. Sure, in our world today, a SF author wouldn’t need to explain what AI stands for. However, all these descriptions that wouldn’t be needed today don’t really make Mike’s characterization boring. They also don’t make the novel dated. Maybe they just feel a bit out of place, but that's all. Back to my point. I don’t see anything wrong with our AI being conveniently there. Sometimes in life, we do get a little lucky. I didn’t see that as weakness in a plot.

“I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress



Political ideas expressed in this novel are often the kind that make one really think. The idea of writing a constitution in negative was a very refreshing one. There is a lot of interesting quotes to be found in this novel, for example: "In writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtue of the negative! Accentuate the negative! Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do. No conscript armies... no interference however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation... no involuntary taxation." I think this novel can also be viewed as a warning against government control and colonization. Take this quote for example: "In past history popularly elected governments have been no better and sometimes far worse than overt tyrannies." Well, as depressing as it sounds, that’s actually true. One only needs to remember a few history lessons ( Hitler, Stalin) to realize the horrible truth behind this sentence. Just because a government was elected doesn’t make it a good one.

“A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame… as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world…aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.

[...] “My point is that one person is responsible. Always. [...] In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.” 
 Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Injustice is often our reality and it is injustice that fuels the rebellion/revolution in this book. Every government is an organism that defends itself, an organism whose sole purpose is to sustain itself…and is it any wonder that it can’t do much good? Is there such a thing as a good government or is it always a choice between lesser evil? This novel does raise some really interesting questions, but in a way that is anything but overbearing. 

“Must be a yearning deep in the human heart to stop the people from doing as they please. Rules, laws--always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good"--not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.”

I suppose there is nothing extraordinary in stating that high government control often results in suppressed citizens. What is remarkable is writing a novel that expresses various issues with government control intelligently, using dialogue, while at the same time fluently talking about various other subjects (for example what does it mean to be human?) and having a decent plot and set of characters. What is remarkable is the novel itself. It is interesting to read, the plot develops well and quickly, there are no boring parts and all of the political and philosophical ideas are effortlessly included. What are you waiting for?

Thank you for reading!


  1. Gracias por la reseña. Tomó nota del libro. Te mando un beso.

  2. This looks to have so much to offer on so many levels. A lot to think on about how we even see each other and how to react. Also, love your art displayed in the post, as well. Lovely photos of your many adventures! I hope you are staying well and seeing a lot of inspiration for your projects. Thanks so much for this fabulous review. I so enjoyed the quotes from the book too. Thanks for enlightening these discoveries we have known at one time. All the best to your creativity! Thanks for your comments too🍀💚🌈💚🍀💕

  3. Great review, Ivanna! I haven't read this book in YEARS, but I remember it quite well. Heinlein's books often stand out to me for their (sometimes) progressive views - it's amazing that this was all articulated so many years ago. Love all the vintage covers!

    1. Thank you Sheila. He was very progressive for his time, wasn't he?

  4. I remember reading this book many moons ago as well, and it's one that stayed with me, one way or another. Thank you for the reminder in the form of your well constructed review! xxx

  5. Oh dear, I have not reed this book.
    Have a lovely weekend

  6. There's some great quotes you've included in your review, Ivana (and lovely photos of you, too!) xxx

  7. It sounds like a very timely read, with so many things having gone on in the past few years! It is good that you were able to enjoy this read, and I like the photos you have included with your review along with your lovely artwork :)

  8. Nikad nisam čitala tu knjigu, ali zvuči odlično! Divne slike i ilustracije takođe. <3

  9. Kod tebe pronadjem uvek najbolje preporuke za knjige :) Ljubim te divna Ivana

  10. Hello Ivana,

    First of all happy spring and I hope everything is going a little bit better on your side.

    Your literature picks sounds excellent. The main one, The Moon is a harsh mistress sounds intriguing from the title and then when you talked a little bit about the characters it just caught my attention. I just added it on my GoodReads to-read-list :) I think the most interesting part is the idea of many things that we are experiencing now but that were explored by the author many years ago.

    Oooh and I love the way you designed this post with many illustration and collages *_*


    1. <3<3<3 much appreciated dear Pablo. I'm always happy to provide inspiration for TRL:).

  11. Another book with contents that are reflective of our world today. Thank you for sharing this with us all. I will keep an eye out for this author when I visit the bookstore. As always, engaging post with lovely pictures :) Wishing you a fabulous weekend ahead, Ivana <3 xoxo


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All your comments mean a lot to me, even the criticism. Naravno da mi puno znači što ste uzeli vrijeme da nešto napišete, pa makar to bila i kritika. Per me le vostre parole sono sempre preziose anche quando si tratta di critiche.

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