The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein

** A report, not a novel 

This book has left me puzzled. The setting (the Moon) is undoubtedly fascinating. The story itself, although it is a sci-fi reinterpretation of the American Revolutionary War, has a remarkable originality. Unfortunately I did not like the way it was developed and only the first two points have allowed me to give it two stars instead of one.
We have a lot on the plate and we immediately realize that a novel is just too little to develop all that as it should. The result is that it appears to be largely a mere report, full of super-detailed technical information in the political, scientific field, etc., with facts summarized in a few lines here and there, and only portions of dialogues, which fail to bare the feelings and the humanity of the characters. 
The most obvious consequence is boredom.
Yet in the beginning I had been intrigued with the computer, Mike, that had taken self-consciousness, thus becoming alive. But then the story ends up relying too much on this intelligent, likeable, able to do anything, infallible supercomputer, only thanks to which (at least roughly) the characters succeed to achieve their goals.
It seemed too easy.
I was hoping for an improvement, but I found myself trudging in the middle of the book wishing for it to end as quickly as possible. A story that is essentially told, in which little is shown as it should. The same choice to tell it from the point of view of a single character limits it a lot.
Despite the long timescales of the narrative, the ending is obvious from the moment you understand what the story is really about. There are no real twists or, better, the way in which the events are narrated makes them little surprising.
The motivations of the characters, including the protagonist who speaks in first person, are not at all clear. Their feelings are said in words, but not shown convincingly in the gestures.
From the reading I received an almost sterile report of facts, which completely failed to entertain me.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress on


  1. I'm right there with you. I loved the setting, but it felt like a report. You really had to trudge to the end and Mike was a magic do-anything mcguffin.

    1. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one feeling the same about this book. :)

  2. I read this book in high school many years ago, but I still vividly remember it. One of the ways Heinlein captures his audience is by allowing them to fill in details from their own imagination. This technique made me feel as if I was participating in the story, and kept me turning page after page, hoping there was a sequel when it was over. Read Methuselahs Children, that’s where he really shines!