I expected something much different from the synopsis. I imagined something more similar to HG Wells's The Time Machine. Probably because I categorize these two books as "old sci-fi books", even though they aren't even in the same century ha. But I imagined something dense with a lot of description and old sci-fi style. Instead, I got culture shock, first person dialogue, a subtle treatise on government and revolution, and a theoretical question about the meaning of sentience. It was fascinating.
At first I was annoyed at two specific things: the language and the attitude towards women on Luna. The dialogue slang felt like a cheap trick that was just hacked off English plush a smattering of references to other languages. And the obnoxious whistling and treatment towards women seriously threw me off. But then about two hundred pages into the book, my annoyance dissipated somewhat. It's always a little difficult to sink into the world when it's radically different. And I think the Loonies's slang and cultural differences is definitely something that needs a lot of time for the reader to adjust. I guess it also helped that the seemingly-chauvinistic attitude was more of blatant appreciation. Crude on "Terra", but normal on Luna, I suppose. Like I said: culture shock. But I made my peace with these problems and found myself more enraptured by the plot. But please note, I did not like ANY of the female characters. So I might have made peace with it, doesn't mean I approved entirely.
I was definitely not expecting how much time Heinlein put into the ideology of government. It almost felt like a salute to Machiavelli's The Prince in how it describes the way to establish a revolution and then the resulting government. How to rule, one might say. I love how Heinlein put in opposing theories and then made them clash a little. The Loonies's faux Congress was fascinating in its infancy - especially because I could understand why Man gave the ultimatum to fire the yammerhead idiot, but Prof almost resigned if that happened. Freedom of speech, even for idiots, or a much-needed smackdown of idiots. Situations like that really made the book for me. Things like implementing a monarchy over democracy, or using an honest man to lie for you unknowingly, or the motivation of man and revolutions. This book was layers deep. Not just an easy story to read, unless you felt like skimming through the book. But it holds so much potential for thought. Lovely.
I also noted a lot of references from this book! "Salty" and "Simon Jester" were both like red flags when I read them. I was surprised that it stemmed from this book.
I vaguely mentioned this before, but I was really surprised at the first person dialogue. It's been a while since I've read such a first person limited, dialogue-heavy book. It's not common at all. I... was very uncomfortable with this style of writing for the first 100 pages or so. It felt clunky (and it didn't help that the slang sounds really uneducated and sloppy). But I did settle into it. It helped that Man was a person that the reader liked and wanted to succeed. Sometimes it frustrated me because I'd rather have a clever protagonist that makes the situations than one that falls into place. Mike was more the director than Man for the majority of book. But this sort of first person limited perspective made the revolution and raw emotional side of the book more realistic. It gave more impact of what kind of people (ex-convict and unwanted) were stranded on Luna. It was different. And I do think it worked quite well. And I did appreciate the obvious humor than the main character's name was Man. Ha.
I must say, though, I didn't really like Mike. It was rather cute at first when he was shyly creating his own jokes and such. And then he turned into the mover, the shaker of the story. And I prefer my main character to do the action. So I got a little bored in the middle when things were always going within his calculations. But only a little, because the next stages of revolution were quite interesting. I wish the interaction between Mike and Man was more fleshed out in the story. A couple times that Man felt annoyed at Mike... I feel like there was something underlying there. Sometimes it seems that Heinlein only put Mike there was for a computer ex machina to actually give the Loonies a fighting chance. Rather than an insight into science fiction exploration of what it means to have artificial intelligence and all of the implications it might have on humanity. But eh, I guess you can't fit everything into one book.
I think the ending was a bit of a cop out, to not let us see what would happen with a supercomputer that would potentially outlive everybody, that would be in control of everything, that could potentially grow bored.... but I suppose that is another story in itself. At least the story did wrap up quite nicely.
3.5 stars, rounded down. It was very good. But it didn't click with me. But honestly, if I were rating purely on the writing and plot and the story, I'd give it a solid 4 stars. However, I read books for enjoyment, edification, and eh some sort of resonance. The book has to resonate with me to rate it highly. I feel a little silly basing my rating just on feelings rather than statement facts, but it really didn't grip me. Is that enough reason to not give it a higher rating? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's enough for me to dock it half a star and round it down. So there's that.
Definitely recommended for those who like sci-fi (be aware it's less fantasy than modern sci-fi). Classic book.