Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlen (spoilers)

I made a gushy, sentimental Reading Now! post on this book and I'm still feeling quote emotionally attached.

I received this fortune cookie message many years ago. I scanned it. Occasionally I have moments where I let myself consider it could be true and my eyes water, my heart races. We live in an amazing time with the  blistering pace in technology advancement. But in my heart of hearts, I don't believe I will live on the moon or Mars. Low Earth Orbit, though... :)

 I'm sure I have some spoilers to spill, so let's just go on with it.

Spoilers sure to be ahead, be warned!

So this gives you a little context about how I feel with things regarding the moon. That aside, what gets me about this book isn't the moon, it's the people. Mike the AI included. I have faith and hope that sentience will happen, just a matter of time. We could only hope to have Mike as a result.

Life on Luna before taking down the Authority, it seems dysfunctionally perfect. Everyone has found a way to make the system work, it doesn't hurt that women hold so much power and are so respected as the precious resource. And while brutal and quite awful, that the elements weed out the people who can't play nice sure seems lovely to live with.

But Luna is in a losing system and everyone is doomed if something doesn't give, so with Mike the ever powerful all-knowing lovable AI he is, they have a revolution. In most ways I felt right there with Mannie. I wasn't seeing the overall plan, we're going along with the Prof and Mike's plans and surely it will work out.

Something else to note that I've gathered bothers some is how Mannie speaks in what's called a dialect. There's some vocabulary coming from different areas, but the dropping of articles apparently is similar to a native Russian speaker. To me, that is terribly endearing. There's something about this speech pattern that hits my soft spot, combined with Mannie's respectful ways with his family and friends - he's perfect. But it's not that hero-perfect that can grate on the nerves (Joshua from Night's Dawn Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton (spoilers) comes to mind). He's someone you want as a friend, a father, a husband, a brother. He's missing an arm (calling his wing occasionally, precious) but it isn't a focal point or a super power. It's just life and he's able to use some good tech with his various prosthetics for his job fixing computers.

The revolution happens and there's some business on Earth that dragged on a bit. The politics of a revolution, of freeing Luna - while it accomplishes what is necessary for everyone to survive I can't help but feel a little sad. My view is it can only turn into the same type of governed state, and while functional and realistic it's not nearly as romantic as Luna's lawless (yet so orderly due to the 50% mortality rate from elements or being a jerk) utopia.

And, of course.. the end. I expected Prof to die, we're made to understand he's old and not in the best health after the stress of the ridiculous Earth visit (I had some wavering in suspension of disbelief with the stresses in the travel and it not killing him on the way down). But Mike.. not Mike. In the back of mind, I wondered if the knowledge of having killed so many people (regardless of ignoring warnings) just pushed him over the edge. I want to believe he is still there and would talk to Mannie one day.

While I'm sure it should be appreciated for the politics and the "unorthodox" things like line marriages, I fell in love with the families and friends. I was along for whatever game they wanted to play, if I could spend just a little more time in their company.

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