You’ve never read any Sci-Fi, seriously? a.k.a. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress review
Monday, July 18, 2011Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
I used to think there was no way I would like Science Fiction. I ruled out an entire genre of literature because I was turned off by the cheesy covers and the fact that sometimes stories were set in space. This is coming from someone who grew up on a steady diet of Star Trek and Star Wars, so I have no idea why I felt that way. I’ve always tended to lean towards Austen over aliens, but that’s no reason not to give it a shot.
So a few years back, I listened to my Dad’s recommendation and read Ender’s Game. That’s the book that turned it all around for me. I realized that the reason good sci-fi books are so wonderful is because they highlight the aspects of human nature that remain the same no matter what the setting is.
People often focus on the extreme elements of sci-fi. Is it set in space? Is there artificial intelligence or aliens? If so, it’s not for me. What Ender’s Game taught me is that there are wonderful books in every genre and you truly miss out if you ignore a whole section. Just like any category of books, there are ones that are funny, serious, focused on religion, relationships, love, etc. There are good ones and bad ones. Sci-Fi isn’t my favorite genre, by any means, but there are some great books in it that’s I’d hate to have missed.
If you’ve never tried any sci-fi, I encourage you to try one of the following…
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Fahrenheit 451 or The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert A. Heinlein
Set on the moon, where a Lunar colony has been established for years, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress explores what happens when a society is left to determine its own rules. What began as a working prison of sorts has now become a true society. Years earlier, convicts were shipped to the moon from earth to farm for wheat, similar to the penal colonies established by England in Australia. Now, those convicts have gone on to start families and the lunar colony is populated with people born on the moon.
One such individual is a computer technician named Mannie. While working on the colony’s supercomputer, he realizes that it has become aware of itself. It’s now a sentient being that calls itself Mike and is desperate for friendship. With Mike’s help, Mannie and a few other “Loonies” begin a revolution. They’ve been treated like slaves for their whole lives and want to free themselves from the governments on Earth.
When sci-fi is done right, we learn how the most absurd situation boils our personalities down to their most elemental nature. This book does just that. A rebellion against an established government is basically the same no matter where it happens. Heinlein combines elements of politics, sociology and Artificial Intelligence all in one satisfying stew. It’s also really funny in a lot of ways. Heinlein’s sense of humor reminded me so much of Ray Bradbury.
The way they talk in the book is a bit hard to get used to at first. Here are a couple examples:
“Don’t think I can, I admitted. Best can offer is extensional definition.”
“So I minded own business.”
I was never as attached to the characters as I would like to have been. Wyoming, one of the only female characters, started off as a strong woman, leading part of the revolution. But by the second half of the book she’s faded to the background. It’s still immensely readable, but it’s not one that I would call a favorite.
“Women are scarce; aren't enough to go around – that makes them most valuable thing in Luna, more precious than ice or air, as men without women don't care whether they stay alive or not.”
“When faced with a problem you do not understand, do any part of it you do understand, then look at it again.”
So, do you guys have any sci-fi recommendations for me?