Robert Heinlein’s 1966 classic novel, The moon is a stern mistress, Explore the idea of a lunar colony proclaiming independence from Earth.science fiction writer Anthony Ha Found this book interesting and exciting.
“All the details about how they put these different revolutionary cells together — all of which are very interesting, he just explained it very well, and it just had this real narrative drive,” Ha said in episode 516 This Geek Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “There will be these big fights at the end, and I think he writes about the fights arguably like anyone in science fiction. So the whole book reads really fast.”
Geek Guide to the Galaxy Host David Barkertley agreed that Heinlein was a natural storyteller. “He’s a very engaging writer,” Curtley said. “You can see why he took pulp magazines by storm as soon as he came out. He’s got a lot of fans and followers, and I can totally see that. I can totally see why you’d be drawn to his intelligence and talent.”
the moon is a stern mistressThe depiction of a lunar society without laws or government has always inspired many young liberals. Political journalist Robby Soave loves the mix of science fiction and politics in this book. “I feel like if you accurately describe it as an instruction manual for making a catapult, with a liberal manifesto/sales pitch, that alienates everyone,” he said. “But the book is really good, albeit very focused on those two things. It’s a very fair introduction to our philosophy, with some really juicy sci-fi stuff in it.”
Unfortunately, one aspect of the novel’s outdatedness is its stereotyping of gender roles. Science fiction professor Lisa Yaszek was initially intrigued by the book’s heroine, the Wyoming Knot, and was disappointed that the character played such a minor role in the story. “I didn’t want to be a woman in that revolution, sitting and serving coffee,” Yaszek said. “It really gives you a sense of where the passion for women in the 1960s was.”
Listen to the full interview with Anthony Ha, Robby Soave and Lisa Yaszek on Episode 516 Geek Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Robby Soave to Robert Heinlein to Ayn Rand:
Ten years ago, most people who joined the liberal movement were because of Ron Paul. 20 years or more before that, it started with reading Ayn Rand. Of course there was a time—probably all along— the moon is a stern mistress is a gateway. I mean, the professor just gave an almost forced libertarian tone in a lot of places–actually like Rand did in her book, it just moved from the plot to, “Okay, this It’s obviously the author’s opinion of something, so let me get my manifesto out.” Now Heinlein does more and more subtly than Ayn Rand, although that’s not by a high standard.
Anthony Haon the moon is a stern mistress Compared the deprived:
the deprived very close to representing my political philosophy, and the moon is a stern mistress No, so comparing the two, politically, I can see, “Oh, I agree with this skepticism of the state, the skepticism of authority, it’s very interesting to try to build a more liberal society.” …I do think the deprived Allowing for more arguments, which I think was missing from Heinlein later. There’s something that looks like an argument, but it’s really just one character saying something obviously wrong, and then they’re told a lot of pages.I’m sure this happens in the deprivedbut I think it’s less obvious, at least to me, when it happens.
David Barr Kirtley on conflict:
There’s an entry in the “Turkish Urban Dictionary” called “Comfortable Disaster,” which is where the world ends — it’s after the end of the world — but the characters are having a good time. They have cars and guns, they can go to the mall and get whatever they want, they get girls. So it’s a weird juxtaposition where the world is in this horrible state, but the characters have a good old time.I think [The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress] equivalent to a revolution. It’s like a “comfort revolution”. It really makes a revolution look like a good time, and it’s so much fun. I read the book and I thought, “I want to start a revolution. This looks really good.”
Lisa Yaszek on artificial intelligence:
Asimov is exploring [AI] In robot stories of the 40’s and 50’s. At the end of his robotic sequence, he is imagining a world where computers can run everything and carefully manage humans. Asimov always thought of them as babysitters and nurses who would take care of us like babysitters – like the best babysitters ever.but mike [in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress] Friends, I think that’s different. He was more of a fully aware man, which was new in science fiction at the time. And he’s a good guy. He’s not a berserk robot. …Asimov turned the tide, in the 40s and 50s, and then you got a whole bunch of great robots and AIs that were on Mike’s level. Then of course we get HAL and then things start going south again.
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