I recently finished reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein, and it easily makes the list of the top ten fiction books I've read, if not the top five, though I haven't yet made such a list.

Background: it's the future. The Moon has been colonized in a way similar to how Australia was: it is used as a penal colony, for states on Earth to send their criminals. By this point in the timeline, Earth's resources are strapped, and the Moon's society is flourishing. The majority of residents on the Moon are not criminals: they've either been born there, or their sentences have been served and they've decided to stay due to the fact that their bodies have adapted to the lesser gravity.

They book is a tale of how the citizens of the Moon declare independence, negotiate with Earth for it, and then fight to keep it. There's a lot of parallels to the story of the USA's independence, with the whole "taxation without representation" line being used, but then they take it to the next level and pull the libertarian card. The government that they set up is designed to be as limited as possible, and it seems to work nicely that way.

Two great quotes:

"Nothing uses up alcohol faster than political argument."


"Drop dead—but first get permit."

Aside from the story, my other favourite thing is the way that the book is written. It's in first person, from the perspective of a technician with a robotic prosthetic. At the beginning, you'd think that the grammar and vocabulary peculiarities are supposed to be because of his accent, but the more you read, the more it feels like Heinlein was trying to show what he thought English on the Moon might have become, much like the how the French language differs between Québec and France, or the differences between Dutch and Afrikaans.

I'd give the book five stars in a heartbeat, and I really should list my favourite books to see where it places.