The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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Review of Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”

The Moon Is a Harsh MistressThe Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I will undoubtedly be branded a science fiction heretic, but I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

I can respect Heinlein’s technical proficiency as a writer, particularly the highly consistent dialects and comprehensive rendering of technology. I can appreciate how forward-thinking (in some respects) Heinlein was in anticipating the space era in a novel written in the mid 60’s. I can also see how this novel undoubtedly influenced many writers down the line.

None of these merits, however, makes The Moon is a Harsh Mistress either enjoyable, informative, or insightful to the contemporary reader. Its technological futurism is obsolete, its view of humanity mired in a bygone era of chauvinism and nationalism, and its social commentary amounting to little more than Ayn Rand in Space.

I care about none of the characters, because I cannot relate to them — thus it to me fails as a story. Nor does the story bring me to any new understanding of the human condition, because its postulates in this regard are archaic — thus to me it fails as art.

My impression of Heinlein’s masterpiece is something analogous to the Deuteronomic Code: it has its set place in the establishment’s canon, mostly for historical reasons, but ultimately has very little worthwhile to say to contemporary society.

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Titan has seasonal weather, landforms, stable liquid lakes and rivers (probably of light hydrocarbon alkanes), a dense atmosphere that is primarily nitrogen, and a ton of water ice. Not surprisingly then, it is a prime candidate for extraterrestrial microbial life, or perhaps in a “pre-life” stage, and right here in our own neighborhood.

Um, yeah, so… why are we not outfitting our manned explorer vessel again? Or at least, oh, a few dozen unmanned probes? 

ikenbot:

Rhea Before Titan



Some friends and I were at dinner during the eclipse and we literally kept running out of the sushi restaurant every 10 minutes with solar glasses to take a look. Got some weird looks ourselves.



theblackworkshop:

VIA

Great shot of the underside of a Saturn V (S-IC first-stage) rocket. For a sense of perspective, I once stood next to one of these laid out horizontally at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville… I estimated that I could not only easily stand inside the rim of one of the nozzles, but jump with my arms outstretched and not come close to touching the other edge of the rim.

7.6 MILLION POUNDS OF THRUST. Yeah baby.




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