In 2075, underground colonies are scattered across the moon (Luna). The lunar colony was originally a penal colony, but even though the lunar residents (“Loonies” as they call themselves) are no longer technically prisoners, they have become economic slaves of the Earth and unable to safely return to Earth and its higher gravity. Amidst growing but unorganized discontent amongst the Loonies, four individuals begin the meticulous planning of a revolution to free the Moon: Mannie, a one-armed engineer and our narrator; Prof. de la Paz; fiery Wyoming “Wyoh” Knott; and a newly sentient supercomputer named Mike who loves to tell jokes although he is not himself programmed with a sense of humor. After spending one night discussing and rationalizing revolution, they decide to fight for their freedom. Starting from this small group, the resistance spreads across the Moon.
Throughout the course of the novel, they successfully overthrow America’s puppet government in space and justify it by reciting the Declaration of Independence to America’s stony-faced leaders. The United States responds by sending up more troops to turn Luna into a tightly controlled military state and the citizens of Luna fight for their rights of freedom and democracy. In this relatively simple plot, the story flourishes as characters debate the merits and philosophy of revolution, argue political theories and reveal the strange and distinct customs of the Loonies such as group marriage. And unlike most revolution stories, the tale doesn’t end once they overthrow the government; instead it details the struggles that occur once the norm is thrown into disarray. Separating themselves from the Earth economically devastates some of the citizens and Mannie and his friends have to find a way to navigate a new government while avoid mass hysteria, riots and violence.
Ultimately I really enjoyed this book. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction novels in the same way I don’t enjoy most fantasy books; in the immortal words of one Jeff Winger “I can’t tell if you’re making this up because everything about this is silly”. As much as I would like to be a fan of the sci-fi genre, usually the invented “futuristic” words turn me off. However, this book was more like a fictionalized political discourse which I found exceptionally interesting and relevant in regards to current global affairs.