• The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

  • By: Robert A. Heinlein
  • Narrated by: Lloyd James
  • Length: 14 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (10,338 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In what is considered one of Heinlein's most hair-raising, thought-provoking, and outrageous adventures, the master of modern science fiction tells the strange story of an even stranger world. It is 21st-century Luna, a harsh penal colony where a revolt is plotted between a bashful computer and a ragtag collection of maverick humans, a revolt that goes beautifully until the inevitable happens. But that's the problem with the inevitable: it always happens.

Winner of the 1967 Hugo award, this novel marked Heinlein's partial return to his best form. He draws many historical parallels with the War of Independence, and clearly shows his own libertarian political views.

©1965 Robert A. Heinlein (P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Hugo Award, 1967

"Adrenalizing, mind-stretching, conviction-testing...unmatched by any contemporary!" (Theodore Sturgeon)

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Science fiction is a genre as diverse as you can imagine. There are stories that take place in deep space, often depicting teams exploring or running away from something; stories that focus on life at the most cellular level, such as a pandemic tale; and stories that take place in times that feel similar to our own. Depicting themes of existentialism, philosophy, hubris, and personal and historical trauma, sci-fi has a cadre of topics and moods.

What listeners say about The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    6,626
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  • 3 Stars
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Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Heinlein's Masterpiece

This is quite simply the best book Robert Heinlein wrote. While the premise is somewhat implausible (ship convicts to the Moon? More economical to ship hydroponic grain from the Moon than to grow it on Earth? - I don't think so), it serves as a platform for Heinlein to explore topics in politics and philosophy. These include: what does it mean to be human? What is the relationship between duty, responsibility and rights?

Heinlein is able to pull this off by embedding the "politics" in a real page turner about a revolt by colonists on the Moon against the tyranny of the home planet. Heinlein keeps the plot zipping along with plenty of action and "gee, whiz!" techno gizmos that are only slightly dated today (the book was first published in the mid-60's).

The characters in this book are the among the most fully realized in all of Heinlein's work. The narrator is a one-armed computer repairman, whose best friend is only sentient computer in existence, Mike. Heinlein treats Mike's alienation and attempts to become "human" with a light hand and sympathy.

The first person language used in the book contains a rich argot from the dozen or more nationalities that make up the lunar colony. This contributes greatly to make the setting believable and real.

As good as the book is, Lloyd Jones improves on it. His vocal characterizations are wonderful, and brought out elements of the character that I never noticed before, despite having read the book at least a half dozen times in the past.

I would recommend this book whether you are coming to it for the first time, or if you have read it many times before. It puts a fresh face on one of "the Grandmaster of Science Fiction's" greatest works. If you love science fiction, you owe to yourself to give this book a listen.

174 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Good Interpretation

I was initially surprised by the use of the Russian accent for the narrator but it works and works well. I'll never read the book again without hearing that accent. And his other "voices" for the main characters - especially "Mike", was right on. This was a very well done reading of a must read classic.

91 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This books is better in audio translation

Heinlein once wrote (in _The Number of the Beast_ that Tolstoy's works gained from translation. That I cannot judge, but _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ which is one of my favorate books and one I reread periodically, gains from Lloyd James's translation. In particular, his voice for Mannie sounds both authentic and more multi-dimentional than the voice I imagined when reading the book. His brief chuckles punctuate Mannie's sly humor beautifully.

I know this is an audio version I will be listening to again. In fact, I imagine I will pull it out every time I go back to reread the book.

As for the book itself -- if you only read one book of Heinlein's in your lifetime -- this is the book you should read. Seriously.

77 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Het

My review is similar to Audio Addict and Maken.
This is an unemotional detailed lecture. By this time in his career, Heinlein has reached the comfortable spot of whatever he writes will sell. He may have run out of ideas years ago and so continues to spout the same tired themes he has written about in previous books. Even some of my favorite writers have done this in their latter years. The ability to tell a story and get your point across, seems to be lost and what we are left with are lectures. This had potential that was squandered in it's delivery.

The Hugo
Yes, this won a Hugo, but don't let that fool you. I once tried to read all the books that had won the Hugo or the Nebula. A lot of them are not very good books. Many of them are available at audio and you can see by their ratings, I am not alone in that feeling. Sometimes a new author or a new concept hits the market with such a strong force that it will win, as what happened with Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, but in most cases the members are voting for old favorites. In many cases they may not have even read the book. It is like the Academy Awards, in which politics might be involved or someone who is loved and had a good career is awarded for his/her latest effort. That performance might not be as good as some newbie's, but the seniority actor has the advantage.

The narrator was kind of drool

72 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, wonderful narrator

I read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" in high school,and now that I'm "reading" it again 15 years later I realize how much I missed the first time. Heinlein has written a literate sci-fi classic that delves into philosophy, Revolution and other always current topics. Narrator Lloyd James clarifies my biggest problem with the book: protagonist Manny's sometimes odd language and syntax. When Manny speaks with a Russian accent, all is clear. Recommended for lovers of sci-fi and good stories!

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

wow!

The story in itself is already a classic, I won't even write about that, there's plenty about it on the Net, just search about it.

But what to say of the narration ? simply A-S-T-O-U-N-D-I-N-G !! The narrator does a fabulous job - he did not cease to amaze me with his prowess doing accents, voice pitches, etc, amazing story to be heard!

The bad thing is: It won't believe a single word of what you hear and listen on the TV news anymore, you'll see and appreciate the machinations behind everything from this point on... thanks to professor De la Paz and the rest of the conspiratory group ;-)

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Reasonable adaption, but pauses in funny places

Fidelity is reasonably good; just a little muddy. I was surprised to find that this recording dates back to 1999.

Lloyd James is a competent enough reader, but his interpretation of the primary character (Mannie) was a bit jarring at times. I could handle the Russian accent; but he paused at times he should have kept reading and vice versa.

His Russian accent for Mannie put a new spin on the character for me; along with the French accent for Stu LaJoie. Never really heard those accents in my head while reading the novel, even though I knew that Heinlein had intended it that way.

Prof's manner of speaking was a bit too drawn out. Wyoh was fine, but I would have liked a bit more femininity in the voice. Mike's voice was done as expected.

Was surprised (and pleased) to hear the English accent for the Authority chairman; made a nice touch and really differentiated him from the other characters. James also does Oriental accents well.

Chapter divisions on my iPod were not marked according to the chapters in the book.

As this was my first Audible audiobook, I was pleased to find that there were some stops built into the book; and even more pleased that the iPod remembered where I had left off when I switched to music.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting concept but never turned me on

STORY (classic sci-fi) - This book is highly rated by lots of reviewers and won the Hugo Award in 1967 when it was written. It is well done, thought-provoking and possibly even genius, especially considering that most of what is described in the book isn't outdated today in 2014. The story is set in the year 2075 (I think). It's about human prisoners and their descendents who live in an underground penal colony on the moon. They want to be recognized as a free people and plan a revolt against earth. There are a handful of main characters, including an almost-human computer who masterminds the revolution. You will hear how they gain followers and organize themselves, negotiate with earth, fight for their freedom by catapulting rocks at earth and, finally, establish their fledgling government. The summary describes it as "hair-raising" -- I would describe it as detailed, philosophical and political, but maybe that's just me.

The problems I had with the book are twofold: First, even though the characters are likeable, I never cared about them and, thus, never cared about their revolution. Second, I just don't think I am the right type of listener for this type of book. There are lots of things that are thought-provoking, but then I would get bored with the detail and the emotionless presentation.

This is how the entire book sounds: Reader has Russian accent. Book not hard follow but written different. No pronouns and short sentences. Didn't bother much but might want hear sample.

PERFORMANCE - Narrator did a good job, given what he was reading.

OVERALL - (Actual rating 2.5) I would recommend you read lots of reviews and determine if you have the right type of mind and mood to listen to this book. I apparently didn't.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just excellent

I thought I had outgrown Heinlein but I loved this book. If you "get" Ayn Rand you will find this story engrossing. However, if your heroes are Jesus or Che Guevara, then you may want to look elsewhere.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, great narration

I enjoyed the book and loved the narration. I have read many great books and some I have failed to appreciate. This is a classic that I have just failed to appreciate a lot. There were parts that made me laugh out loud. I felt that best character development is exemplified in the computer Mike. Not being so far into the future, 2070 or so, one might expect to identify closely with some of the characters. I did not. The story seemed quite implausible and that says a lot given I have read much more phantasmagorical books that even seemed possible some time in the future. With all the criticism, the book was enjoyable. When I started writing this review I gave the book a rating of 4 stars. As I finish it I have concluded that for me it really only ranks 3.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-16-06

Llod James cannot read!

Terrible reader - listen to the sample before you buy it!

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • AE
  • 10-31-06

Still Great

'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' is as enjoyable and controversial today as when I first read the book all those years ago. The story has an interesting setting and first person perpective that I found absorbing and there are points in the narrative where I found it all but impossible to put the book down.

The story is typical Heinlein in that it combines well thought out action and controversial philosophical ideas that are just begging to be discussed and argued over.

I had some initial doubts about Lloyd James as a reader, but having listened to several of his books, I have become used to his voice and feel that he has done this book justice, adding a valuable dimension of characterisation that has helped my visualisation of the story no end.

This reading should appeal to all Heinlein fans.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Raj
  • 08-12-11

Fantastic introduction to Heinlein

I was given some recommendations on which Robert A. Heinlein books to start out with. Many people suggested I start with “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” and I was not disappointed. A fantastic listen; you are left guessing where things will go right up to the end. The narrator does an excellent job. Overall, extremely enjoyable, and highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Louise Hartgen
  • 05-15-10

My All Time Favorite Sci Fi Book!

There are many kinds of books. Some are fresh and new, once read, even if enjoyed, you don't want to revisit them. Some you can re-read, maybe just once. Some books you like so much, you can read, and read, and re-read and they become as familiar as a comfy pair of slippers, but remain fresh and new for you every time.

Such a book, for me, is Robert A Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. This classic mixture of science fiction at its best, and political thriller, held me enthralled from the first sentence to the last.

I borrowed the book in dog-eared braille copies, and in special audio format, to revisit it from time to time, and now, thanks to Audible, I have it to keep forever. Given, by Lloyd James, one of the finest narations I have ever heard, this book is a must read for anyone who is into Science Fiction. Everyone I ever introduced to it loved it, so go on, add it to your wish list, or download it today!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MisterG
  • 08-21-09

The best got better

I've always loved this book - and it's as old as I am. The first person style, written in a mishmash of languages, just works as does the telling from the perspective of someone caught up - and eventually leading - a revolution.
Then you move to the audiobook version. Instantly it comes to life. Most of it is told in a pseudoRussian accent, but quickly you find this switches with the dialogue. The pace is a little slow at times, but very soon you are into the action. And then when the final chapters kick in you are gripped to the end - even if you know what the ultimate end must be.
Heinlein at his finest? Probably

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • 06-01-07

Teach Yourself English

Yeah, spoken text almost incomprehensible. I used to teach English as a foreign language -- I would have failed a pupil with an accent like this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jabbawok
  • 08-24-08

A great book presented well

This was a much loved book of mine already, and it was a wonderful surprise to have Lloyd James reading it - I really like his style of reading, and in particular how he gives a wonderful flavour of the type of person who is narrating it.

Top marks - thank you!

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  • Thesle
  • 06-02-20

A sci-fi classic

A great performance of a great book. It's a book that I keep coming back to listen to multiple times, as the story holds against repeated listens and the characters are engrossing.