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Pain, Cyber Punk and Science Fiction in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress Essay

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Updated: Mar 22nd, 2019

Introduction The book is set in 2076. The earth’s lunar colony decides to rebel against the earth authority. The United Nations Lunar authority rules the lunar colony These people have been exiled from the earth and taken to the moon. They are mostly criminals or political exiles.

These people who have been exiled once they spend a few months on the moon certain changes start taking place. There are physiological changes that occur in these people which are irreversible. The changes occur as they live in a planet that has a different gravitational field. The people become trapped.

The area has a higher number of polyandrous marriages since the number of men is more than the women in a ratio of 10:1. There are wardens and guards on the moon. However the rules are few since the convicts cannot escape.

The hero in the novel, Mannie is reluctant. He wants change but is rather comfortable interacting with spending time with the super computer, Mike and interacting with his wives and co-husbands.

It is the beautiful Wyoming and Professor Wyoming who involve him in their affairs to rebel against the earth till he sees the chance of success. The exploitation of the moon by the earth is dangerous as the moon will only last for a few more years.

When Mannie is finally on board, he is passionate and does everything to ensure the loonies are successful. The three of them recruit groups and form cells. They want to influence the people on earth to see the importance of the lunar independence. They are intelligent and the Authority Security Chief is not able to penetrate the group. In May

after the soldiers rape a girl and murder two girls. The rebels fight the soldiers and win. Though they win, there is the fear of the earth reclaiming the colony. The trio is able to ensure that the religious people and the politicians are always engaged in endless arguments. Meanwhile they are laying down their plans to win the war.

Mannie and Professor travel in a grain shipping container from the moon to the earth. They go to plead the case for the independence of the moon that has just been declared. They go on a world tour speaking of the benefits of a free Lunar kingdom. Mannie says it will be great for commerce and industry.

He encourages various countries that will organize for the building of a catapult to transport vital materials to the moon. The earth should transport water and trace elements to the moon in exchange for grain. The delegation’s proposals are however rejected when they go to the federation headquarters.

In fact more troops will be sent to the moon to secure it and ensure it is a tightly controlled police state. It is not a total failure however since the people on the earth are no longer united on the activities going on in the lunar colony. Some actually want it to be free.

On the moon however, people are more united. In the last part of the book, the federation warships come to the moon. The attacks between the moon and the earth intensify with many people dying. However, the Loonies are victorious and the lunar nation is finally recognized. The professor, Bernado is the leader of the nation for a

while then he collapses and dies. Mannie takes over. After a while though he steps aside and lets another person to rule. At the end of the novel, Mike is severely affected and only responds and functions like a normal computer. It could be due to physical damage or the whole experience of fighting was a draining process.

Pain, Cyber Punk and Science Fiction in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress

There are several aspects of science fiction, pain, cyber punk and science fiction addressed in the book. There is a lot of pain expressed in the novel. First of all the people living in the moon undergo mental and psychological anxieties. There is pain and misery as the people can die at any time from the vacuum.

The people in order to survive in the area have to behave well towards each other. The second issue in this society is the family unit. There is an acute shortage of women in the moon causing the society to adopt polyandry relationships. The women are few as most of the criminals are usually men (Lerner, 1985, pg 65)

This must have been hard to adjust to since the people were coming from a monogamous kind of society. The women in the society are very powerful. If a man offends a woman, the other men are likely to get annoyed and attack the individual. This is a society that the men find it hard to adjust to.

The society has learned to cope with the way they live. The people are peaceful and live by certain rules such as payment of debts and looking after one’s own body.

As the loonies fought the war, strong bonds were formed between the three main fighters, the professor, Wyoming and Mannie. The war has been won but Mannie feels disoriented.

Mike was severely affected by the fighting. He is back to being a computer. Mannie feels lost, missing the companionship that Mike offered before and during the war. He misses the way he could answer very difficult questions. Mannie is in disbelief and keeps asking Mike questions which he does not answer.

The computer was repaired so he expected things to go back to normal. Since nothing changes, he actually starts thinking that maybe the computer was affected psychologically. He reasons, “Can a machine be so frightened and hurt that it will go into catatonia and refuse to respond?

While ego crouches inside, aware but never willing to risk it? No, can’t be that; Mike was unafraid—as gaily unafraid as Prof ”(Heinlen, 1966 pg 232).

The war has been won however Mike has lost a great firend and his loss will always be felt. The victory over the earth though goes to give him great memories of how Mike helped win the war. He was a great asset and help in the rebellion.

Cyberpunk is a combination of cybernetics and punk. In books where Cyber Punk is the theme, the story usually takes place in the future but not so far away. The setting of the cyber punk story is usually a place of great misery. The genre shows great advances in information technology.

There may also be great developments in the internet and artificial intelligence. The other common theme in cyberpunk is the societal control theme. They may be aggressive heroes from the beginning of the story or reluctant

heroes that take time to pick up but at the end all of them save the people and the story ends well.

All these characteristics of the Cyber Punk theme is true in the novel the Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The setting of the book is in the new future that is 2076. The environment on the moon is harsh, even as the people suffer physiological changes which are irreversible.

There is despair and lack of hope in the people who are trapped. They cannot leave the moon. There is also the theme of societal or government control. This is evident in the book as the people on the moon are being controlled by the governments of the earth.

The book explores politics and the society. The professor is for self-regulation and not state or government control. He says that every person is responsible for his own actions.

The protagonists have to do something to set the people free. In the novel, Marnie, the professor and Mike are heroes who do everything to set the people on the moon free. There is a terrible fighting with Mike bombing the earth’s space defense command centre at Cheyenne Mountain.

Civilians die in the process as they go to these locations despite the warnings of the press. The earth’s military on the other hand attacks the moon, destroying the catapult for transporting grain to the earth.

Step by step as Mannie throws the rocks, the earth’s counties recede and surrender recognizing the moon as a new nation. After a while all of the earth recognizes that the colony is no longer theirs. The loonies are set free at last.

Science fiction is a genre of fiction where the main themes are science and technology. This genre of literary fiction tells the story in an environment where they have been progressive innovations in science. The innovations are mostly imagined and have not taken place yet.

The novel usually discusses or shows the impact of those scientific innovations. Take the situation where men have created highly intelligent machines to assist them take care of the earth and their businesses.

However, a danger occurs where the machines become so highly intelligent that they start a revolution to take over the earth. A war occurs between the machines and the human beings.

The science fiction novels are not limited in the events that can occur in the earth. It shows other possibilities that can occur on the earth. The scientific fiction differs from the fantasy genre though because the events in the science fiction novel can actually occur due to the laws of nature or other laws of science.

It concentrates on the operations of some of the laws of science. While reading a science fiction novel, the reader has to practice a degree of suspension of disbelief.

If the writer can capture the reader’s interest and use some aspect of the truth then the reader may overlook the incredulous and impossible events of the book. The writer seeks to explain the events in the book through the scientific laws.

Another critical aspect of science fiction novels is the aspect of time or time travel. The story is usually set in the future. The science fiction may also have events happening even in the past however they do not match what has actually happened in the past.

The explanation in the novel given may be that the characters are able to influence the past events in order to create a certain future. The story can even have characters travelling in between time zones, going forward and backward in time.

The story usually involves aliens or humans in other planets. It is all about the outer space or another universe. Most of the science fiction stories show wars that occur in space, different worlds or even a different universe.

The wars are usually between the humans and the aliens. The aliens could be planning a total mass invasion of the earth. It could be subtle like aliens coming to the earth and changing body form into humans in order to infiltrate the society.

The moon is a harsh mistress fulfils most of the characteristics of the science fiction genre. It has artificial intelligence, space travel and atomic drives. First of all in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress, there are people who have been transported to live in the moon.

There are no people who can survive or live in the moon. This has been proved by scientific experts. Secondly, there is also the aspect of advanced artificial intelligence. A quality in most science fictions where it is believed the artificial intelligence of the computers will be high.

Machines and robots will be in force on the earth and may actually take over. Computers that exist in the earth and moon at that time have a higher artificial intelligence level. Take Holmes IV, known as Mike as an example. He has become self aware. A machine that is almost human. It has come to understand

human emotions and feelings. Mike even has a sense of humor. To most people, the computers in the future will be smaller and advanced. However Mike is a huge mainframe. It is a main computer that controls all the facilities on the moon.

In the rebellion, the supercomputer Mike provides a lot of insight. It actually acts like Adam Selene who is the leader of the group. The computer is able to make complex calculations. It can store 90 minutes of conversation in ten minutes.

He can animate the human face, something that he also learns in a few minutes. He reads over a 1000 books and every fact that he reads he can connect it with everything else that he knows, something he also does in minutes.

The professor Bernado tells them that the moon has to soon cease transporting wheat to the earth and its resources may dry up. At this point Mike is able to calculate that there will be food riots in seven years. Additionally, there will be cannibalism on the Moon after nine years.

These projections of the Moon’s gloomy future work to motivate the professor and Mannie more on the decision to revolt. Mike is even able to calculate the chances of success of the rebellion. He says it is a 1:7 win situation. As the story progresses, Mike keeps calculating and revising the chances of failure and success of the revolt.

The people on the moon though have a gambling culture and as long the chances of being successful is not 0, then it is okay to proceed. Mannie suspects Mike of rigging the elections when he is elected to the congress together with the Professor and Wyoh.

The novel is also set in the future. The people in the moon have a distinct syntax in their language showing the way the earth’s language will develop and change in the future. The author lays the idea that in the future there is the possibility of a different version of English or other languages being spoken on the earth.

It is a war that takes place in the universe between the people on the moon and the earth. The equipment involved in the war is advanced. The earth uses advanced war ships. The federation warships arrive for war at the moon however the revolutionaries are able to destroy them. The revolutionaries are even able to destroy the ships while in the air, before landing on the moon.

Fourthly, there is the operation of the laws of science. The moon sends wheat to the earth using an electromagnetic catapult. In the war between the moon and the earth, in the universe, Mike throws rocks travelling at 11km per second that are like atomic bombs.

They release the same amount of energy. During the war in the universe, many people in one location become asphyxiated due to loss of air pressure.

The science fiction novels usually speak of events and happenings that do not occur in this world. On the earth, monogamy is practiced in most countries. In some countries, polygamy is traditionally practiced. Very few countries or cultures practice polyandry.

However in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the population of the women is much higher than the men population. In order for the people to continue the family unit, they adopt a polyandry kind of society (Bryan, 1998, pg 1357).

The state of marriage at that time in the future is illegal however in the earth. When Mannie travels to the earth to lay the argument for the moon’s independence, he is arrested for bigamy and polygamy.


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress incorporates all the themes of pain, cyber punk and science fiction in a great way. The computer, Mike is given human elements that cause the reader to feel Mike’s pain when at the end they can no longer communicate they way they used.

One is left angry at the costs of war. Things are never the same between the two after the war. Though Mike is able to use the computer to perform certain functions, it is not to the high degree that was there before and during the war.

The reader is also made to identify with the suffering people on the moon and root for their deliverance. Though one starts wondering of how it must be like to live in a society with polyandry marriages. The society is a reversal of the present state of affairs. The men are so weak. The women have totally taken over the society. It is not a man’s world in the moon.

The adjustment to live on the moon for the convicts is hard. The feeling of being trapped in a place is hard to deal with. After only a few months there is no way of escape.

The earth’s inhabitants on the other hand are selfishly taking grain from the earth not thinking of the impact it has or will have on the moon in the future. If such transportation of the grain to the earth continues, the people on the moon will surely perish. It is with this mindset of the future that Mannie and his friends plead the case for the lunar independence and recognition as a state.

Works Cited

Heinlein, Robert. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. New York: Tom Doherty Associates,1997. Print.

Lerner, Fredrick. Modern Science Fiction and the American Literary Community. United States: Scarecrow press, 1985. Print.

Ryan, Bryan. Major 20th Century Writers: A Selection of Sketches of Contemporary Authors, Volume 2. United States: Gale group.1998, Print.

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