HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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swagasaurus-rexonOct 25, 2019

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein speaks about this. Rebels on the moon list it as a demand from the Earthside governments to build a mass driver to lower costs of shipping and make moonside life more equitable.

They even list a couple of ideal locations including I believe Kenya.

berbeconJuly 2, 2019

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. A wonderfully in depth look at a society that grew up in the harshest conditions, and their revolution against tyrannical oppression.

rothbardrandonAug 24, 2017

It wouldn't really be relevant. For why, read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

TLDR: The moon colony will be able to make its own rules and keep earth at bay.

MarketingJasononFeb 4, 2017

Just finished Daemon and about to start Freedom. Great read, and it's amazing how quickly it ramps up near the end! I hadn't been hooked to a book like that since "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Dune"

_gtlyonJuly 24, 2021

1984, Orwell

Brave New World, Huxley

Animal Farm, Orwell

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Persig

Cat's Cradle, Vonnegut

Catch-22, Heller

The first 3-4 books of the Foundation Series, Asimov

The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien

crdbonJune 10, 2016

As an example of a brilliant book with awful grammar, there's Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

liquidiseonJan 25, 2016

i strongly recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (one of Heinlein's more celebrated novels) to tech-savvy political thinkers. It is a fascinating take on sovereignty in a futuristic world.

bad_useronAug 24, 2017

"The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" novel doesn't seem so impossible now :-)

benhoytonApr 12, 2009

Very interesting.

However, this kind of thing: "Most significantly, when children are born, the father may have little or no responsibility for his offspring..." -- that's terrible.

That WP paragraph "Walking marriages" somehow reminds me of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Harsh indeed.

angersockonAug 9, 2014

Heinlen's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Friday especially got quite a lot right.

mgarfiasonApr 9, 2015

Heinlein: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Robert Coram: Boyd
Mark Donohue (w/Paul Van Valkenburgh): The Unfair Advantage
Carroll Smith: XXX To Win (its a series of books)

rmajoronSep 20, 2011

Thanks for the list. Nice to see some old friends on there. My all time favorite is Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I think it is his best. First time I read it I was in the sixth grade. That was 45 years ago. I've read it many times since, and will no doubt read it again.

kondor6conSep 18, 2016

The audiobooks I think they are in sections titled "Prime Exclusive", similar to their movies and music. Some of the free selections are Heilein's "The moon is a harsh mistress", Larry Nivien's "Ringworld".

cjsleponFeb 17, 2015

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" from Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, a highly recommended read.

nicolas_tonAug 20, 2016

Not sure I'd suggest The Door into Summer, it's one of the weakest books from Heinlein imho together with the Number of the Beast and I Will Fear No Evil. I'd usually recommend the Moon is a Harsh Mistress or one of his juveniles as the first book.

kibaonMar 28, 2010

Incidently, the term TANSTAAFL, or There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch was an invention of science fiction writer, Robert A. Heinlein in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

gostsamoonJune 14, 2021

Dune (first book only), The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land), Uplift Series by David Brim, The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanly Robinson, Ann Leckies books are really interesting new sf.

enkiv2onSep 2, 2015

Name collision :<. I knew I should have been more original! Everybody who's read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will have had the same idea.

krasinonSep 16, 2019

This is covered in-depth by Robert Heinlein in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" ([1], [2])

1. https://archive.org/stream/TheMoonIsAHarshMistress_201701/Th...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_a_Harsh_Mistress

cpetersoonJan 15, 2019

Robert Heinlein's novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has a lot to say about a space colony (in this case, on the moon) depending on resources from Earth.


patrickg_zillonFeb 1, 2019

Heinlein speculated about this in the book, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Except they were family corporations that were multi-generational as well.

mryanonApr 24, 2012

This scary thought makes up much of the backdrop for one of my favourite scifi stories, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Definitely worth a (re)read given this latest news!

oldgradstudentonMar 27, 2020

I'd guess it's named after the computer in Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

baddoxonApr 21, 2015

Interesting to see Stranger in a Strange Land on his list. It shows up quite often on top lists of sci-fi books and Heinlein books. I'm halfway through it, after reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land is certainly the weaker book so far in my opinion.

borlakonJuly 29, 2013

In the book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (1966), an electromagnetic catapult is used to deliver goods from the Moon to Earth. It is similar to what you described -- just a really long tube (or rail) at the highest elevation possible.

stevenwooonOct 20, 2017

I read it when I was a teenager, but The Moon is a Harsh Mistress pounds this idea into your head.

rripkenonNov 21, 2018

You may like Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

blktigeronDec 26, 2016

Which is the basis for the name of the AI in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Heinlein.

pjmorrisonNov 19, 2017

It wouldn't surprise me if the sub community's saying came from a Heinlein reader somewhere in its past, similar to his popularizing TANSTAAFL ('There ain't no such thing as a free lunch') from 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.'

mirimironFeb 22, 2019

See Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

ghkbrewonNov 26, 2017

For those confused about the relevance of fegu's comment. That acronym was popularized by Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", which includes kinetic bombardment of Earth by lunar inhabitants as a plot point.

Your comment was opaque, but was the first thing I thought of too

nrknonApr 4, 2011

Not completely pertinent to where I suspect your line of questioning is going, but Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an interesting take on computer aided government.

bduerstonFeb 9, 2015

This is part of the plot for Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

alanfalcononFeb 15, 2013

I'm reminded of scenes from Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" where rebelling Loonies plan to "throw rocks" at oppressive Earth.

ghaffonMar 10, 2020

I would have guessed Heinlein but I don't see evidence he used that particular term although he had similar tropes in his books--e.g. Loonies in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

atgmonJan 27, 2011

Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand), In Memory Yet Green/In Joy Still Felt (Isaac Asimov), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein).

Those books are probably what made me into a self-sufficient human being who wants to stand on his own and keep living the best he can.

cmars232onAug 2, 2010

It does seem like a false dichotomy. Sure, it's just fiction, but doesn't Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" illustrate how fiercely independent space colonists could work together to survive and even thrive?

TANSTAAFL != Anarchy

gregpillingonMar 3, 2013

You may find the book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein to be interesting. The main weapon in the battle between the Earth and Moon was shipping containers full of rock. These were launched by catapult to specific targets. Throwing rocks in a high tech fashion.

shagieonApr 24, 2019

I suspect you are thinking of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Though, it has been a long time since I’ve read that book.

drak0n1conSep 30, 2019

This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin. Story of a man's repeated attempts to escape a benevolent automated dictatorship where everything is controlled and everyone is kept sedated.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein - The moon is a colony of misfits and is suffering increasingly unreasonable demands from earth (1776 in space). One of the computer systems managing part of the colony is discovered to be sentient and is gradually befriended by a sysadmin.

moleculeonApr 27, 2012

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Heinlein, explores some of the potential labor and social issues.

MaysonLonMar 18, 2013

Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Read it.

riemannzetaonAug 18, 2015

Heinlein had a similar idea, which he described in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


inetseeonMay 7, 2021

"The phrase and the acronym are central to Robert Heinlein's 1966 science-fiction novel The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which helped popularize it."

hcoyoteonFeb 5, 2019

Mine was The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, read around the same age (took me awhile to get through SiaSL).

The ideas around TANSTAAFL were what really drove me to believe in the value of hard work and being wary of the easy path to "success".

resu_nimdaonJune 16, 2018

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein involves some of that.

But how difficult would it be to intercept the payload safely outside the atmosphere? Seems it would be easier than intercepting an ICBM.

dctoedtonJune 2, 2015

The article's description of women's power over men is reminiscent of Robert A. Heinlein's sci-fi novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, in which Luna had many more single men than single women, with similar results.

maverick_icemanonJan 20, 2017

I think the right pole is Robert Heinlein's novels like Stranger In A Strange Land or Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

hgaonFeb 22, 2015

As the article points out, it could be a source of materials for any of the above. You might also find The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to be interesting....

ewiethoffonMay 12, 2009

We can plan this all out in a novel called The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

sneakonJune 10, 2013

I suggest everyone get a copy of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and read it. It's a fun read, and is a really good basic outline for how to dismantle a tyrannical regime from the ground up.

h4b4n3r0onAug 22, 2018

Another cool thing one could build on the moon is a rail cannon to bombard Earth. Moon's gravity well makes it relatively easy to hurl stuff from there to here, and the stuff _accelerates_ as it approaches Earth, assisted by earth gravity. The scenario is explored in detail in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

s_kilkonFeb 1, 2017

I recall this being an element in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". The lunar colonists live much longer than their 'Earthworm' counterparts because of the low gravity.

stcredzeroonSep 4, 2018

The same trope was used by Heinlein in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and used to explain why the population of the Moon had a higher average IQ. The title of the novel is a reference to it.

gravypodonMay 22, 2018

"the moon is a harsh mistress" and other things by Heinlein

KlimentonApr 28, 2016

This is essentially the plot of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"

flyingfencesonJuly 28, 2021

> Heinlein wrote a book in favor of polyamory ("Stranger in a Strange Land")

See also: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

patrickgzillonApr 22, 2011

I suggest you read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and think about why any Earth-bound government would hate the idea of allowing space based travel or settlement by any agency not under their direct control.

webmavenonFeb 26, 2017

Bah. I hope his patent application gets shot down. LINAC/railgun launchers are an old idea, described in HeinLein's 1966 novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", for example: https://books.google.com/books?id=HtuRSsAb2fEC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA...

mp_cnbonOct 3, 2010


- 'The Selfish Gene' - Richard Dawkins

Grokking the concept changed the way I thought about life forever.

- 'Quantum Reality' - Nick Herbert

One of the best introductory level books on quantum physics mysteries. No nonsense.

- Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Pirsig

The book that introduced me to Kant, Hume and philosophy of science. Just for that, I'm forever indebted to it.

Some favorite fiction books -

- Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
Loved 'Snowcrash' too.

- 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' - Robert Heinlein

- Anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Somerset Maugham

MikeCodeAwesomeonSep 6, 2012

I'm unaware of a specific name, but it's not a new idea. See The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. (link to Google Books reference http://goo.gl/IdBoU)

jeffwassonDec 9, 2017

Anybody know when the term "Neural Net" first appeared?

Just read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", published in '66, and there are a couple of mentions of "neural nets".

anoonmooseonJuly 1, 2019

It ain't perfect but the criticism of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress seems overblown to me. Then again it's my favorite book, so I'm certainly biased. The Professor, in my opinion, is not presented as being uncritically correct; the errors he makes and the fact that people do end up disregarding many of his thoughts/suggestions are important. Anyways, here's one of my favorite excerpts from the book:

"Manuel, once there was a man who held a political make-work job like so many here in this Directorate, shining brass cannon around a courthouse."

"Why would courthouse have cannon?"

"Never mind. He did this for years. It fed him and let him save a bit, but he was not getting ahead in the world. So one day he quit his job, drew out his savings, bought a brass cannon--and went into business for himself . "

"Sounds like idiot."

"No doubt. And so were we, when we tossed out the Warden."

anoonmooseonJune 9, 2020

"The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein

"Neuromancer" and sequels by William Gibson

"Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut

I've read all of them dozens of times over. Hard to explain why, they speak my language, and help me understand myself and the world around me, kind of like my favorite bands do. Hard to put into words.

segfaultbuserronJuly 15, 2019

> Milton Friedman quote

This meme was actually popularized by Robert Heinlein in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, ten years earlier than Milton Friedman started using it.

egosophistonJan 14, 2014

Out of the Silent Planet - C.S. Lewis

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - R.A. Heinlein

The Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov

natecholsonOct 18, 2018

Full disclosure: I never bothered to read anything of his written after "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", since the universal consensus seems to be that his later books are very, very strange.

NaturalPhallacyonJune 26, 2021

>If you are a freedom lover foremost perhaps you should work more on making the issue seperate from right vs left rhetorics.

I have tried. It simply doesn't work. Proudly censorious authoritarian leftists. They see themselves as the good guys saving the world, and if that means free speech has to go, then so be it.

I'm reminded of this quote:

>“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

coffeeacconJan 24, 2018

I started "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" last week. I closed it after two or three pages because I couldn't stand the computer speak.

brgonJune 22, 2010

Reminds me of the Heinlein book, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress."

But there was a recent story on here that a single reasonably sized asteroid would net about $1 Trillion worth of materials. It seems like a very profitable exercise.

dctoedtonJan 17, 2012

Brings to mind Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress [1] --- the entire plot turned on the prospect of lunar "society" running out of water because it used the water to grow grain and then exported the grain "downhill" to Earth.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_a_Harsh_Mistress

nyhc99onAug 20, 2020

I personally liked the Hyperion duo better, but found all 4 books to be incredible.

As for Ringworld, I didn't enjoy it, but would be willing to give Niven another try if given a strong and specific recommendation. Maybe something that has more of a plot. Wandering around a big empty construction in space where nothing happens didn't really do it for me.

The author of this list and I seem to have very similar tastes. Most of his favorites are mine as well. The only favorite of mine that comes to mind as being left off this list is Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It's also striking that he hasn't listed any of the Culture series by Iain Banks.

IgorPartolaonMar 16, 2021

I saw the movie more as a campy adaptation than satire. In either case, while most people are familiar with the movie, the book is much more significant. I believe it’s still required reading in the Marine Corp for example.

TANSTAAFL is from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, basically a libertarian manifesto. Heinlein had range. Add Stranger in a Strange Land, the hippie manifesto, and you have the trifecta.

ponkoonApr 13, 2021

Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress explored this concept of the low cost of transporting packages from the lunar surface to earth. Now mind you the “packages” were moon rocks shot by catapult at the Earth in a war of independence, but still a really interesting plot point. Everyone should read this book!

brudgersonMar 25, 2021

I've read many many books that have changed my life.

That's probably one reason why I read.

To say that Pound's translation of the Analects was more profoundly important than the Tao and Faulkner's The Town and Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and The Hobbit from my youth and The Three Little Pigs read nearly nightly to a child doesn't make sense.

Sometimes I walk through Castaneda's world.

Sometimes Knuth's.

Other's I am in my head with Vonnegut.

Profoundness is out in the world.

And many books point to it.

loydbonAug 20, 2016

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is definitely my favorite. I don't think Fear no Evil was that bad -- I think it was the last decent book he wrote.

I remember reading the serialization of the first few chapters of Number of the Beast in Omni magazine, and thinking how great it was. Then I got the book and read the rest, and was sad.

Don't get me started on _Friday_.

mattkevanonFeb 16, 2015

Anything by Alastair Reynolds - his Revelation Space series is great, and House of Suns is a fantastic one-off. He's probably the closest to Ian Banks in creating galaxy-spanning civilisations across eons of time.

Ian MacDonald is another good one. My favourite of his is The Dervish House, but his others are definitely worth reading.

Charles Stross is good. Didn't get on with Accelerando, but his Laundry books are a fun mix of HP Lovecraft/Len Deighton/IT Crowd. Halting State and Rule 34 are good explorations of pervasive augmented reality and intelligent algorithms. Also Glasshouse as an exploration of post-singularity society. Never managed to finish a Cory Doctorow book though.

I found William Gibson's Bigend trilogy a slog, but I really enjoyed The Peripheral - it's a fun read.

Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card are fantastic, but the remaining books suffer from diminishing returns (with the possible exception of Ender's Shadow). There are a lot of books in the series, but basically, the series finishes wherever you get bored reading it.

Anything by China Mieville is well worth your time.

Oh, I also really enjoyed Elizabeth Bear's Jacobs Ladder trilogy, set on a generation ship where the inhabitants have forgotten who they are and where they're going.

For some older stuff:

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester – I was surprised at how good it is and how well it stands up. I couldn't believe it was written nearly 50 years ago.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein - possibly my favourite of his. I want to start a lunar revolution with a sentient mainframe...

I'm currently working my way through all the Hugo Award winners, from 1953 up, and there's some real gems there.

sparkman55onFeb 9, 2015

A space railgun is theoretically possible, but you'll still need a rocket to circularize the orbit.

In practice, a rocket goes up (out of most of the atmosphere) before going fast. A projectile fired out of a railgun would be going at its fastest while still in the atmosphere, and would thus be very hot / inefficient at the gun's "muzzle"

Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" discusses such a solution for sending mined material back from the moon, which seems like a more feasible application.

The whole system is indeed possible, though. See this discussion:


baddoxonOct 27, 2014

What I find interesting about science fiction is how difficult it is to predict technological progress consistently across different types of technology.

For example, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (written in 1966, set in 2075), space travel and colonization is much more advanced than it is in 2014. Artificial intelligence is also far superior. But digital electronics and computer networking are much more primitive. A portable audio recorder has only an hour or two capacity, and it transmits data by playing the audio sped up through the telephone. PCs don't appear to exist, and computer monitors and terminals are rare. There doesn't appear to be cellular phones or an equivalent. And there's no Internet. An AI system reads books with a scanner and a robotic page-turner.

brudgersonMay 9, 2011

I recently have been reading Hugo Award Novels and recommend Roger Zelazny's This Immortal which is good enough to have shared the award with Dune in 1965. Lord of Light is also a great read and won a Hugo in 1968. Clifford Simak's Way Station, Phillip K. Dick's Man in the High Castle, and Walter Miller's Canticle for Leibowitz are other great Hugo novels from the early 1960's that tend to be overshadowed by more famous authors from that period such as Heinlein (not that I wouldn't recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress if you haven't read it).

stcredzeroonJan 2, 2018

In The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the Moon was a penal colony. In that book, a form of harsh natural selection took place, and everyone who wasn't smart enough to survive in the demanding technical environment (and smart enough to foresee the disasters caused by those who weren't smart enough) quickly died gruesome deaths, leaving a population which was quite intelligent and valued learning.

tjlonApr 21, 2015

For me, I really like the first half of the book where he's viewing society from outside. It kind of falls apart for me when that is kind of set aside. Heinlein almost always has problems with the endings of his books. There's some that stay consistent throughout, like The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or Podkayne of Mars, but most kind of land with a thud. I love his books quite often for the ideas and settings, but yes, the writing isn't the best.

mindcrimeonJuly 10, 2010

Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

Foundation Trilogy -Isaac Asimov

The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists - Neil Strauss

The Law - Frédéric Bastiat

Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Friedrich Nietzsche

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein

Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier - Katie Hafner & John Markoff

It's Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be: The World's Best Selling Book - Paul Arden

Are ones that stand out. I'm sure a lot of other books helped shape my worldview though, especially ones I read as a kid. The "Tom Swift Jr." adventures, the "Three Investigators" stories, the "Nancy Drew" and "The Hardy Boys" ones, and those "Encyclopedia Brown" books all stand out in my memory as probably being influential. And later in life, I'd say Dean Koontz' work has had something of an impact.

bb101onFeb 23, 2017

If anyone is interested in kinetic bombardment, read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Much like how the Fosterites in his "Stranger in a Strange Land" were a blueprint for Scientology, TMiaHM is a guide on how to plan and conduct a revolution, although in this case it was the Moon against Earth.

m0zgonDec 23, 2018

"Stranger in a Strange Land" is probably the best sci-fi novel I've ever read. It must have been very daring at the time to discuss the topics he touches on there (religion, polygamy, homosexuality, cannibalism), the ending especially. He's no stranger to controversy, though. Another great novel by him, "Time enough for love" likewise ventures into such a taboo subject as incest. "Ventures" isn't quite the word, actually, more like "jumps into it headlong". "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" explores families in which there are multiple wives and husbands, and as a result the familial relationships get very complicated, and the family can exist for hundreds of years. What's more, families are dominated by women, because they're in short supply on the moon. Pretty thought provoking stuff, I like that in sci-fi.

specialistonJune 11, 2020

Great tip, thanks.


I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as a teenager. Part of the techno-anarchy-libertarian (or whatever we call it) corpus for us nerds.


Now I want to read both, compare and contrast, against each other, and against the real world.

netman21onJan 4, 2020

As an author I am encouraged by all the great responses here. In addition to writing a book a year I read about 50. My question for OP: How do you learn anything if you are not reading books? Sure, you can learn a lot about a subject online. When I write a book I spend about 6 months reading everything I can find (including books). Then I organize what I have learned and present it (I hope) in an easy to absorb manner. A reader can learn everything I know about a subject in 4-6 hours. Want to learn about the Cold War? Read Gaddis' seminal book on it. Want to learn about WWII? Read Winston Churchill's five book series that won the Nobel prize for literature? Civil War? Shelby Foote. If history is not your thing what about biography? There are biographies of practically every founder of great tech companies. (Jobs, Gates, Musk). How about ideas? Malcolm Gladwell (Tippingpoint), Michael Lewis (Mondeyball). Or maybe break into reading with fiction. Give yourself a present of the complete Lord of the Rings. If you liked the movies be prepared to love the books. If you hated the movies, no problem, the books are far better. OR science fiction. Read all of Heinlein's books for young adults. Start with Double Star then read Have Space Suit Will Travel. A Door Into Summer speaks to any engineer. Tunnel In the Sky is the classic survival story. When you are hooked on Heinlein read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress; it only takes a chapter to get used to his interesting take on what English of the future will sound like.

I hope you are encouraged by all the great reasons listed in the rest of the comments. I for one live to read!

kjs3onApr 20, 2016

Interesting idea, but I'm not sure lunar orbits would be stable, and we're all sitting at the bottom of the next closest (and much bigger) gravity well.

Also See: Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", which features space colonists seeking to break away from Earth dropping rocks on us to persuade us to let them go.

justncase80onMar 18, 2012

In the book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein, which is a fantastic science fiction book about colonizing Luna and the politics of an anarchistic government, he mentions the creation of a Rocket Sled (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_sled_launch) which seems to never get mentioned when people talk about earth side technology for improving our ability to leave earth.

Does anyone know if there is some reason why this technology seems to get ignored? According to wikipedia it seems like a big win. Why aren't we doing this right now?

tjlonApr 21, 2015

My problem with Stranger in a Strange Land is it kind of falls apart around halfway to 2/3rds of the way through the book. The ending is pretty weak (as is most of Heinlein's endings). But, I found the first half of Stranger in a Strange Land to be excellent. In contrast, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a solid book all the way through. Also, a later book has a nice, little tie-in to it.

kabdibonJune 22, 2018

Other early works that I associate with cyberpunk are:

Vernor Vinge, True Names

Thomas P Ryan, The Adolescence of P1

Algis Budrys, Michaelmas

Robert Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

David Gerrold, When Harlie Was One

Obviously, SF involving computers is pretty extensive, and there is a fuzzy line between "cyberpunk" and "this story involves computers at some level." My criteria are: Are computers major characters in the story, and secondarily, are they helping other characters break lots of rules? :-)

gregpillingonOct 11, 2014

I still have almost every story and book he has written. I especially enjoyed "Grumbles from the Grave" where talks about pushing the envelope to see what he could get away with. It made some of his more extreme viewpoints in the later books make more sense. He was trolling people.

Moon is a Harsh Mistress is my favorite of his, because it is a fun multi layered story. And we are almost at the day that Adam Selene could exist. I saw a Simon Jester reference the other day, made me laugh. I have read BattleField Earth a couple times, it is a massive book. L. Ron writes in the introduction that he wrote the book for himself, that he let his imagination run wild. L. Ron has quite an imagination (see Xenu), and the book is a long fast roller-coaster.

Has anyone else noticed the similarity between DD Harriman (The man who sold the moon) and Elon Musk?

Also he had a version of the internet thought out in 1938 "For us the living" which relied on an intercontinental series of tubes. Maybe Ted Stevens got his information from that. That book has many of his major plot lines jammed into one book. Not the best, but interesting to see the V1.0 of what became the Future History ideas. I read it right after the banking problems in 2008, so it was timely to read Heinlein rant about banking in the book (he disliked fractional reserve banking)

/fanboyoff now.

hgaonJuly 29, 2015

Indeed, it's one of the reasons I'm neither betting on IoT being big any time soon, or engaging in it myself (heck, Heinlein had similar advice in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in 1966).

The saving grace is as the CEO comments:

“The shooter’s got to pull the rifle’s trigger, and the shooter is responsible for making sure it’s pointed in a safe direction. It’s my responsibility to make sure my scope is pointed where my gun is pointing,” McHale says. “The fundamentals of shooting don’t change even if the gun is hacked.”

As long as you're following the Four Rules (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Cooper#Firearms_safety) at worst these hacks will brick your rifle or make you miss, but in practice they wouldn't make you hit something you're not willing to hit.

beambotonJan 21, 2015

I imagine it would be difficult for earth-based entities to enforce jurisdiction in far space. If you already have possession of an asteroid, it doesn't seem like there's much terrestrial governments could do shy of import tariffs. And whomever holds to material has one massive advantage in terms of MAD: they're sitting high up in the gravity well.

Certainly SpaceX has an air of "tool builders" about them -- they'll build the shovels and pick axes of the space economy. As evidenced by their current economic successes, they're banking on the evolution of the industry -- not a quantum leap 100 years hence.

A great (related) scifi novel: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein

tomohawkonJan 8, 2018

Heinlen in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" introduces the idea of a legislature with 2 chambers. One for creating laws and the other for getting rid of them. The threshold for creating them being higher.

The way it is now, everything is geared towards "doing" things, and credit is received for "accomplishments". Its usually much harder to undo things. It would be refreshing to have specialists in undoing things.

mr_toadonJuly 28, 2021

If you read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress his views come across as more libertarian and individualist than conservative. Ditto for Job.

I never saw much in the way of social conservatism in his writing (the religious right would probably be horrified by some of his work), but he was clearly opposed to collectivism.

hguantonDec 12, 2016

Farnham's Freehold was the book that made me lose a lot of respect for Heinlein. I started reading him as a 13-14 year old - books like "Have Space Suit, Will Travel", "Farmer in the Sky", and "Starman Jones" - and ate them up. I got older and my dad recommended "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and "Starship Troopers"; I really liked reading him alongside Asimov, who did such a great job of going into __how__ people/societies would exist in the future; Heinlein was much better at going into the __why__. The ideas he put forward in "Starship Troopers" and "Stranger in a Strange Land" formed the basis for some of the best conversations I've had with friends.


Farnham's Freehold was just ubermensch porn coupled with some really weird racism. He used more hackneyed "I can do everything" stereotypes than an Ayn Rand novel, which is something he was always guilty of but it really came to a head here. The multiculturalism and openness that was so explicitly prevalent in Starship Troopers, Stranger, and Harsh Mistress (the main character of Starship Troopers is a bisexual South American) vanishes, replaced with this weird fear of black people - "they seem nice, but they'll turn on you when they get the chance" is the message the Joe character imparts.

Just a very weird book.

bostikonJuly 15, 2018

Asimov's original "Foundation" - it's effectively a collection of 4,5 short stories. I recommend to remain at a discreet distance from the rest of the series. While good within the universe, they are ... different.

"Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead" by O.S.Card. (Do not touch Xenocide without a hazmat suit. And if you do, burn it before reading.)

"Snow Crash" by Neil Stephenson.

"Rendez-vouz with Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke.

If you're up for some thought-provoking stuff, "Stranger in a Strange Land" by Heinlein. Not the easiest read but your carve-out basically rules out "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

"Embassytown" by China Mieville.

EDIT: I forgot "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons.

hgaonFeb 13, 2015

Counterwise, you've just illustrated why I pay absolutely no attention to the IoT and will be surprised if it really gets anywhere any time soon (like, probably within my lifetime, assume a quarter century), and make sure nothing bad will happen when my rock solid AT&T DSL does occasionally go down.

Heck, Heinlein discussed this sort of thing in his 1966 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

danilocamposonOct 3, 2010

Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's a history of human reasoning, tracking the emergence of science into what we know today. Fills in a lot of meaningful gaps you may have forgotten from your various science courses, while providing the human side of major advances (rivalries, disappointments, hoaxes, all of it).

Science from a new perspective is excellent, but it's also such an interesting window on the many people who have struggled against really difficult problems to move humanity forward.

Also, make sure you go play Bioshock (the first one) for a sobering counterpoint on Randian thought. Atlas Shrugged is awesome, until you remember that you can't trust any group of people to maintain their rational behavior in the face of personal gains. Great story, and it'll drag you back from Randroid town (it did me, anyway). Either way, the kid in me would still love to have dinner in Galt's Gulch.

If you'd like to read eye-opening fiction, I heartily recommend The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein. It's an incredible exploration of what it is to be free and how modern societies evolve at the expense of their citizens' personal liberties. One of the most thought-provoking pieces of fiction I've ever read, and lots of fun character-wise as well. (Incidentally, Heinlein was a fan of Ayn Rand, so if you liked Atlas Shrugged, you may find this even more interesting.)

whittenonOct 28, 2014

Since an AI named Mycroft (after M. Holmes) is an essential part of the story "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned.

Of course, it depended on trinary circuits and Loglan (a logic based programming language), neither of which exist in the form mentioned.

There are some modern attempts to develop an AI. I would argue that Watson is not anything close to Mycroft, in purpose, nor in design.

clortonNov 3, 2016

In 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' if I recall correctly, it was suggested that if 1/3 of the population really wanted a law then it should probably be enacted. Conversely if 1/3 of the population really didn't like one then it should be repealed. I always thought Heinlein liked the thought of a state of anarchy though and I haven't tried to work out if he would induce one by his suggestions..

[] its been nearly 40 years since I read it

ChuckMcMonNov 9, 2018

I think it is fun stuff, and it was one of the plot points in Heinlen's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", but the execution is still a bit off.

It gets really wild when you can generatively create a movie just from the screenplay description and perhaps a set of storyboards. That will make the amount of crap video available explode uncontrollably.

the_watcheronSep 25, 2019

I'm reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress right now (fascinating, bizarre, and highly enjoyable thus far), and there's a moment where the main characters discuss a timeline described as "on the order of 50 years."

This is still a fairly common phrasing, and in general, people around me generally take it mean "roughly" or "plus or minus a few," which is how one character interprets it. Another character then explains that its actual meaning is, paraphrased, "probably not less than 5 years or more than 500 years."

While I had a vague awareness that "on the order of" was not mathematically equivalent to "roughly", I don't remember learning the concept in such a memorable way. Similarly, an order of magnitude are commonly understood as "a lot more than", when they also have a precise mathematical definition.

I think that reason we are terrible at estimating the time something will take is that humans struggle to think in terms of timespans that are actually representative of the variance in an estimate, not to mention the fact that as additional variables are introduced, that variance will almost certainly increase (even if the midpoint decreases). I'm not sure of the causal direction here, but our misunderstanding of terms meant to succinctly express "somewhere between" sure doesn't help things.

(side note: there's also a discussion about designing a revolutionary organization that really clarified my rudimentary understanding of circuits. The book is truly stunning at times.)

int_19honJune 13, 2016

For those who want to see such a mental experiment to be visualized for convenience, read these two books:

"The Dispossessed" by Ursula K. Le Guin

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein

These two give two radically different, perspectives of what such a society, with implicit rules and norms basically enforced by on-the-spot consensus, might look like.

(Note, I'm not saying that societies depicted in these books are likely, or even possible. It's fiction, after all, and arguably utopian fiction at that. But it does help in putting a more concrete image to the abstract concept of anarchism.)

inetseeonNov 25, 2020

Having read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" a looong time ago, I have sometimes wondered why no one has ever tried to use rail guns as launch mechanisms. I vaguely remember from not so long ago that one of the criticisms was that the acceleration forces would crush any fragile parts like electronics, but is it still true that electronics can't be hardened to survive the acceleration forces? Are there other problems that make the idea of rail gun launchers simply impossible?

btillyonNov 26, 2018

This can be seen as a consequence of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons_paradox.

It is called a paradox because seeing it in action usually catches people by surprise. And this is true whether you're talking about the consumption of coal to power factories, or the consumption of electricity to power computing (and in each case the myriad of new uses that efficiency promoted).

In Science Fiction over and over again the trope was of a giant computer that acted like an oracle. You see that in Asimov's work, in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and so on. Basically nobody anticipated ubiquitous computing. For instance in the Foundation series you see that a computer run by the Second Foundation can predict the future course of history...and people are calculating their courses with slide rules.

As for the killer app of computing, email, I'm only aware of one pre-1970 work correctly anticipating what it would be actually like. (James H. Schmitz has a memorable scene in one of his Telzy stories where she catches up on her messages at a terminal. He doesn't say "email", but the scene is notable for unobtrusively getting it right.)

pyuser583onJuly 29, 2021

I haven’t got around to Stranger in a Strange Land - which is weird because that’s his most populist book.

I’m thinking of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It had group marriages, but the marriage practices were ordained by custom and tradition. Not 20th century custom and tradition, but custom and tradition none the less.

BzomakonFeb 16, 2015

Some which I have re-read recently and still enjoyed:

  William Gibson's Sprawl trilogy

Frank Herbert's Dune series

Isaac Asimov's Foundation series

Frederik Pohl's "Gateway"

Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a harsh Mistress"

Some which I remember liking when I read them many years ago as a teenager:

  E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman series

David Brin's Uplift series

Peter F. Hamilton's Greg Mandel trilogy and The Night's

Dawn trilogy

  Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game"

George R. Dickson's "Dorsai!"

mos_basikonNov 16, 2016

Wow, thank you! I appreciate that you took the time to go into some detail. It sounds exactly up my alley.

>modifying the culture of the enemy so it is more easily defeated

>everything you do is known instantly by the enemy

Good stuff! Also, this is tickling my brain so hard; I feel like I've read one or two books or short stories that play with the second concept with very effective results, but I can't remember what they were. The later books in the Ender's Game series? Something by Neal Stephenson? Heinlen's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? In any case, I look forward to Liu's take on it.

I do speak French, as luck would have it, so thanks for those recommendations, too. This sub-thread has mentioned several books that I haven't read but look very interesting. What a gold mine!

oldgradstudentonMar 27, 2020

I guess we'll find out once the website is up again.


Edit: Google cache has a copy[1]:

> Mycroft is named in honor of Mike, the supercomputer in Robert A. Heinlein’s classic novel “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. Heinlein’s Mycroft was a High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L” – a HOLMES FOUR. Mycroft’s friend Manuel named him “Mycroft” after Sherlock’s elder brother Mycroft Holmes. This was later shortened to Mike.

[1] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?ei=mwx-XrKxLauV...

DougMerrittonAug 18, 2015

> Loglan actually predates most programming languages

Indeed the Scientific American mention of Loglan was 1960 -- after the invention of Cobol, Fortran, and Lisp (and 50's crud like autocoder), but before most everything else.

Probably most hear of it for the first time from its prominent mention in Heinlein's Hugo Award-winning "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress", where it is the "language" used to program the strong AI that is a major character.

I ran a Loglan study group in college, and later studied Lojban, before abandoning conlangs (when I discovered that the strong version of the Sapir Whorf hypothesis is misguided at best -- although conlangs can be interesting for other reasons).

> Is there a benefit to Loglan or Lojban over Esperanto?

I am no longer so sure that the case is any different for conlangs than for natural languages.

If I ask if there's a benefit of French versus Mandarin, people will chime in with their personal favorites and rationalizations for why one is better than the other, but objectively they are both very fine languages for literature and poetry.

shmerlonDec 19, 2016

> just as the times of the prayer should be determined from where they launched, then fasting should be followed by the timing of the place of launch.

Pretty similar recommendation was given in Halacha (Jewish law). Since observance of commandments is time based, this question arises already on Earth, for example in the polar regions, which don't have regular night / day cycle. In orbit and etc. Those are all cases within Earth vicinity though.

More interesting question would be, what happens during an interplanetary space flight. What about other planets altogether, like Moon or even Mars? And then of course what about interstellar deep space flights? So far this wasn't discussed extensively, but quite possible some of those soon won't be theoretical questions anymore.

Interestingly, this topic is mentioned by Robert Heinlein in "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress"[1].

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Is_a_Harsh_Mistress

aaronemonFeb 16, 2015

Peter Watts's Blindsight - easily the best SF novel I've read in the last decade. I haven't got round to Echopraxia yet, but I doubt it'll fail to live up to its predecessor.

Also, while I have no use whatsoever for Stross's "Singularity" stuff, his Laundry Files series excels, especially for an inveterate old Lovecraft fan such as myself. If you want a taste, there are some shorts available online -- "Overtime" and "Funny Farm" are good places to start; "Equoid" is the most recent, but it's not representative, and it's also the weakest entry in the series as a whole due to its poor characterization and reliance on shock and gruesomeness rather than the more insidious sort of horror in which the rest of the series specializes.

I'm sort of surprised to see that no one has yet mentioned Heinlein; I know he's a politically divisive figure in the fandom, to say the least, but he's also the great granddaddy of the modern field, and such prominence deserves recognition. (Hell, he was pushing the Rapture of the Nerds before any of its modern adherents was even born!) Granted that his later works tend to bog down in self-referentiality and author tracts on the evils of Communism and the benefits of casual nudism; in his prime, though, he was an author and storyteller practically beyond compare.

In particular, his The Moon is a Harsh Mistress remains a classic among classics; The Puppet Masters even more so, to the extent of spawning practically a whole subgenre of second-rate imitations; and, for a lighter entry, his oft-overlooked The Door into Summer is a sweet story in which all's well that ends well and the importance of feline companionship in a well-rounded life is not overlooked.

hgaonNov 4, 2016

Everyone knows that we're eating up our resources and dump the rest into the seas all the while doing so. The result is that a lot of things available today will be luxury super rich items in the not too distant future.

Not sure how old you are, i.e. did you live through the '70s "Limits to Growth" Zeitgeist era? If not try, say, watching the 1973 movie Soylent Green, where the two protagonists just marvel at a jar of strawberry preserves they found in the dwelling of a rich person, and then go to your favorite grocery store's jams and jellies section....

Maybe someday we'll see that future you envision, but having already lived through at least one cycle of this, not to mention the ongoing global cooling -> global warming -> climate change one, I don't worry quite so much (and by now have a lot more than just these surface level observations to base that on).

ADDED: And this was a major theme of Heinlein in his '50s juveniles, most directly his 4th, published in 1950, Farmer in the Sky, but also see his last really good book, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress in 1966, where it was plot significant that the moon colony (or was it colonies?) grew wheat and shot it back to the Earth using a mass driver.

sneakonSep 14, 2018

“Thing that got me was not her list of things she hated, since she was obviously crazy as a Cyborg, but fact that always somebody agreed with her prohibitions. Must be a yearning deep in human heart to stop other people from doing as they please. Rules, laws — always for other fellow. A murky part of us, something we had before we came down out of trees, and failed to shuck when we stood up. Because not one of those people said: "Please pass this so that I won't be able to do something I know I should stop." Nyet, tovarishchee, was always something they hated to see neighbors doing. Stop them "for their own good" — not because speaker claimed to be harmed by it.”

— Robert Heinlein, The Moon is A Harsh Mistress

mhdonDec 27, 2010

Snow Crash is great. Generally I'd recommend some "classics", just to see who treaded some ground first, i.e. who gets copied by everyone.

Isaac Asimov - Foundation (and the rest of the trilogy)

Robert A. Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land / Starship Troopers / The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Alfred Bester - The Demolished Man / The Stars My Destination

Jack Vance - The Dying Earth

Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep / The Man in the High Castle

Larry Niven - Ringworld

etc. etc.

A list of Hugo Award winners[1] might come in helpful.

Another advantage of having read "the greats" is that if some critic says that new author X writes "in the style of Y" you have a slightly better idea if you might like it.

Tastes vary, of course. Personally I never got what's supposed to be so great about Ender's Game. Teen Mary Sue geek power fantasy with questionable morals. Then again, lots of people said similar things about Heinlein…

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Novel

baddoxonOct 6, 2014

(Science fiction, not San Francisco.) Having never really experienced the genre much, I have recently been trying to assemble (and eventually read) a list of influential and quintessential science fiction books, and while my informal research into the beginnings of sci-fi as an identifiable genre led me to earlier authors like Verne and Wells, I had never heard of this fellow or this magazine.

By the way, if one wants to read a quick standalone sci-fi novel, I just finished Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and I can't recommend it strongly enough.

pragmaticonSep 28, 2012

Reminds me a bit of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"


The colony is dug underground in the moon and various resources are shot back to earth with a large catapult. And a super computer plays a large role in the plot.

My hope is that a private company may find profit in something like this, even if it is subcontracting for NASA or as part of the efforts of getting people to Mars.

nickffonNov 20, 2018

In "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", it is described as a 'line marriage'. I have read the book, and thought the idea was quite interesting. The more recent book "Luna: New Moon" by Ian McDonald explores similar ideas (and is also set on the moon).

I was trying to inform the parent commenter of the 'opposite' of "polygamy", but this was apparently unappreciated on HN. On that note, I think I will no longer be commenting on HN, due to the aggressive downvoting. I am aware of the guideline about commenting on downvotes, but I no longer care.

medstromonMay 8, 2021

>An author’s intent doesn’t change what an author actually said

This is an odd view of communication. It works for whole stories, e.g. you can decouple Heinlein from his books and claim that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress primarily says something other than Heinlein actually had in mind, artistically speaking, but it's a very odd stance for single words. Communication is two-way, it has everything to do with both the speaker and listener. Words don't have any meaning except for what the speaker and listener assign to them. There is no "what the author actually said", there is only what they intended to say (and how it was interpreted).

In the role of listener/reader, your whole job is to figure out what the author intended. Otherwise I'm not sure we agree on what reading even is.

jacalataonApr 21, 2015

Yea, definitely: I haven't read either of them in a while, but my memory is that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress felt like it had a plot with some philosophizing added on, but Stranger In A Strange Land was political exposition/description of wish-fulfillment orgies with an attempt at forming a plot around it, and that's why it is more like Ayn Rand novels.

phlakatononOct 18, 2018

Three books of Heinlein's I will never regret reading: Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

Which is not to say I endorse all of the ideas in those books. Disagreeing vociferously with Heinlein, or just asking "how in the heck would that actually work?!" is part of the fun!

ghaffonOct 18, 2018

Sure. Lots of people though I’m not one of them. Don’t much care for his juveniles and some of his later books were real stinkers. But, overall, with books like The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Time Enough for Love I have to give him a lot of credit even if it requires a certain dose of historical perspective. I did grow up with him to some degree. I wouldn’t really expect someone reading Heinlein for the first time today to have the same reaction.

ww520onNov 3, 2010

If you like Foundation, you might like the Ringworld series by Larry Niven. Ringworld is a classic.

Robert Heinlein's books are great. Some come to mine are The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers (much better than the movies), Stranger in a Strange Land, Double Stars, and The Puppet Masters.

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is amazing. The Earthsea series are fun read if you want to get beyond SciFi.

skmurphyonMar 22, 2008

in no particular order:

Myers-Brigs Model for Personality

"Four Steps to the Epiphany" by Steve Blank

John Boyd's OODA Loop as a model for competitive decision making

Decision Analysis techniques: in particular decision trees, expected value of perfect information, and good decision bad outcome

BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) concept for negotiation planning

"Secrets of Consulting" by Gerald M. Weinberg

"Bionomics" by Michael Rothschild

SimCity computer game

Analysis of Competing Hypotheses methodology

wiki (social process) model for small team collaborative document development

community of practice model for knowledge management

"The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein (in particular TANSTAAFL)

activation energy, catalyst, and phase change concepts from physics/chemistry

Amplify Positive Deviance model from Jerry Sternin (Save the Children)

"The Empowered Manager" by Peter Block, in particular his trust vs. agreement matrix

"Crossing the Chasm" & "Inside the Tornado" by Geoffrey Moore

"Maneuver Warfare Handbook" by William Lind

"Change Your Brain, Change Your Life" by Daniel Amen

"Micromotives and Macrobehavior" by Thomas Schelling

Appreciative Inquiry Techniques

brudgersonOct 11, 2014

I read just about every Heinlein story I could get my hands on as a teenager. The funny thing is that the one's I thought were sort of stupid - e.g. Have Space Suit Will Travel and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - because they were only about the solar system, I've found to be among my favorites as an adult.

Then again, I couldn't get through Friday back then, but found the description of the role that big data would play in the future prescient a few years ago. Likewise, understanding Stranger in a Strange Land in the context of Heinlien's relationship with Hubbard was beyond me in high-school [Hubbard's BattleField Earth is worth a read or at least a try, even if the movie isn't. He was a talented writer among other things].

pavlovonJan 24, 2018

I first read “The Dispossessed” in a hospital delivery room while waiting for my first child to be born. The way Le Guin paints an entire life’s dreams and hopes and their external bounds left an indelible impression. There is a birth scene in the book that I remember with as much emotion as the actual birth the same night.

On a more general level, “The Dispossessed” is a good example of the paradigm shift that Le Guin (and some other writers of her generation) introduced to science fiction writing, because the book compares so directly to Heinlein’s “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” written less than ten years earlier. Both are about experimental societies on a moon, but there’s a huge difference in approach.

Heinlein’s book is basically the last hurrah of the pulpy, swashbuckling post-war style of sci-fi novels. It’s an enormously entertaining book, but the characters have practically negative depth — they just do whatever the plot requires at any given point — and the future society is a charmingly naïve macho fantasy of a resourceless American West where nobody has anything, yet everybody behaves their best because that’s just what people do (and when a couple of black thugs show up, they get thrown out of the airlock — crime problem solved forever).

Although it’s easy to misread “The Dispossessed” as singing the praises of a particular style of anarchic communism, Le Guin avoids Heinlein’s stilted political prescriptiveness by focusing on people — they get mistreated by the system as often as they get lifted up by it. In the end she makes the explicit point that this is just one possible way of organizing human societies among a nearly infinite set of possibilities. Le Guin’s sci-fi is almost as soft as it gets, and the genre has been so much better for it.

tjiconJan 22, 2013

Around 1980 I read Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".

In 1993 I started sketching some ideas for a novel loosely - very loosely! - inspired by it.

I kept poking at the ideas, and tried to write the book several times. I never got much traction, but did end up writing and publishing several non-fiction articles in national magazines in this time.

In 2011 I started. I wrote 160,000 words and created a fairly epic (in scope) science fiction novel that tied in moon colonization, desktop manufacturing, genetic uplift, AI, open source software, and more.

In 2012 I kept going. I wrote a second draft, and it reached 180,000 words, and was a MUCH better novel. In September 2012 I kept going and wrote the third draft, splitting it into two novels.

Right now I'm taking a one month hiatus before writing the fourth (and final?) draft.

I hope to publish it later this year.

So far I've sunk over 2,000 hours into this project, and it's one of the things that I'm proudest of in my life.

All of which is to say: yes, hang onto your crazy side projects; you'll be glad you did.

baldfatonJan 24, 2018

There are a lot of classics with that same issue. Asimov's Foundation Series even has computer readers are just one line of a book at a time. And he thought this would cause people to not see their progress in the book and cause them not to read as much.

I just look past the details and for Foundation Series it is worth it. "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" to me wasn't worth it, but I really liked "Starship Troopers" and think that is Heinlein's one book I recommend to everyone.

nickffonNov 10, 2014

Citing specific problems can be instructive, and I would agree that bone and muscle mass loss could prove very bad. My issue is with nebulous claims that 'anything could happen'.

I would add that the bone and muscle problems are very well known to just about everyone who has done as much as read a science fiction book. Heinlein went into the subject in detail in his 1966 novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", and more recent writers such as Kim Stanley Robinson have written about it too.

angersockonAug 22, 2015

Wow, not well done.

Author glosses over Watchmen, Stranger in a Strange Land, Neuromancer, The Stand, Snowcrash, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness, and several others that actually had some very interesting things to say on gender roles and treatment of minorities.

Author also ignores entirely the actual depiction of homosexuality and gender roles in The Forever War, and the various ways the protagonist treats (and is treated by!) them.

Author was clearly looking to be offended, and in their zeal ignored both things that countered their position (not surprising) and things that would've substantiated it!

Lucifer's Hammer, for example, can be read to literally depict African Americans and urban youths as savage cannibals. It's a good story otherwise, but there is certainly some facepalming in there.

sn41onDec 5, 2018

The author just sounds ignorant, and seems to have jumped up at Cixin Liu. Western fans have always welcomed authors like the Strugarsky brothers and Stanislaw Lem, and Japanese scifi. He also seems to be forgetting pioneers like Ursula Le Guin, authors from a diverse Western background.

Moreover, even traditional well-known Western fiction has had diversity in characters. I am Indian, and off the cuff, can recall the following "historical" Indian figures/settings in Western scifi:

- Captain Nemo, in "20000 Leagues Under the Sea", was the erstwhile Maharaja of Bundelkhand, India

- "Around the World in 80 days" - Phileas Fogg, the main character, rescues and later marries an Indian, "Aouda".

- The programmer of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is Dr. Chandra, from UIUC

- One of the most famous antagonists in the Star Trek universe is Khan Noonein Singh, a Sikh character

- One of the five scientists in Carl Sagan's "Contact" is Indian (Devi?)

- "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein has Agra, India as a pivotal plot venue.

logfromblammoonApr 25, 2018

Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had a few different concepts for non-traditional marriages.

The protagonist's arrangement was a "line marriage", wherein the family partnership would marry in younger people at regular intervals to maintain approximate male-female parity and to keep property continuity as the older partners died off. At one point in the book, it was considered a big deal when an adult child of an older couple in the line marriage married back into it as a spouse.

There was also a "group marriage" which sounded a bit like everyone in your high school graduating class marrying each other, or like a cross between a marriage and a tontine.

In case of divorce, the remaining spouses would keep all the real property and the separating spouse would be paid off with cash. But divorce required unanimous approval, either of all the other spouses or all the spouses of the opposite sex, depending on how the thing was originally set up.

aarongoughonMar 29, 2010

I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi because I feel it makes people think about what they want the future to be, as well as avoiding the re-hashing of historical and current events that many fiction books set in the present do. With that in mind a list of great books to read:

  The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Gridlinked - Neal Asher
Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F. Hamilton
The Dreaming Void - Peter F. Hamilton
Fallen Dragon - Peter F. Hamilton
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
Market Forces - Richard Morgan
Blindsight - Peter Watts
The Electric Church - Jeff Somers
Tunnel in the Sky - Robert A. Heinlein
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
1984 - George Orwell

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