Brad DeLong tweets a pointer to Jo Walton’s very smart review of Heinlein’s revolution-on-the-Moon tale, which features a one-armed computer technician and a self-aware computer. The review has lots of spoilers, so I’d propose reading the book first.
More or less everyone, across the spectrum from Heinlein-worshippers to Heinlein-haters, agrees that TMIAHM is one of his two or three best products. (My other nominees, aside from Stranger in a Strange Land – which makes much more sense in the uncut version released a few years ago than it did in the original – would include Glory Road and Citizen of the Galaxy. Hard-core fans tend to elevate Starship Troopers, which I loathe.)
The balance of this note is a howling spoiler, so I’m putting it below the fold.
Walton notes that the death of Mike is both incredibly sad and necessary to the plot; else he would have been a dictator. That reminds me of a speculation I first heard from David Cavanagh, though I’m not sure it was original with him: that Mike’s (otherwise unexplained) death was in fact a suicide, occasioned by Mike’s self-awareness of the great danger he posed to his human friends. Cavanagh’s analysis focused not on Mike’s dictatorial powers, but on his discovery that blowing up a bunch of cities finally gave him a referent for the otherwise hard-to-understand term “orgasm.”
My only objection to that interpretation is that I can’t imagine Heinlein, had he intended it, not having Prof explain it to Manny.