It may not have escaped some of your notice that authors like Asimov, Bradbury, and Dick are often brought up for Throwback Thursday, but the famous Heinlein has remained absent from our discussions. That’s why, this week, I want to focus on ‘The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress’.
Unfortunately for Heinlein, I had read ‘Starship Troopers’, and was so turned off by the love song to militant fascism and hyper-masculinity that I was unable to pick up any of his other works. Intellectually I knew that it was actually impossible to pin down Heinlein’s own political viewpoints because every time he wrote a novel, it seems to refute the political ideology of the last one. But yet, ‘Starship Troopers’ affected me so negatively, that I couldn’t get past my emotional block of “never Heinlein”.
When I explained all of this to a friend, she asked me for the sort of science fiction I liked. Then she suggested I read ‘The Moon is Harsh Mistress’.
The book lingered on my shelf for about two months before I picked it up. Even opening it was a struggle for me. But within half a chapter, I was hooked.
Honestly, the premise alone should have sold me on it. It follows a man and a self-aware computer overthrowing the government on the moon. I mean, how cool is that? It’s the weirdest buddy story you’ve never thought to want.
I don’t really want to spoil it, but I’ll go into its good points. Firstly, it has a bit of Asimovian flavor to it, where computer programming is done through conversations with the interface. The first chapter feels so unbelievably, and sarcastically ‘I, Robot’ I almost crooned. Secondly, the main character, Mannie, and the computer, Mike, just work so beautifully together. And lastly, in true Heinlein fashion, he really seeks to engage with an alternate political system in a well thought-out, and methodical way– from his eclectic cast of characters to changing the dynamics of marriage.
In short, it’s just good science fiction, and I am disappointed that I had let my dislike for ‘Starship Troopers’ poison me so much.
If you haven’t read it, go do it. If you already have, go back and do it again!