All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Writer. Gemologist. Artisan Jeweler.

Book Review: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress

Book Name: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
First Published: 1966
Hugo Award for Best Novel 1967
Prometheus Award Hall of Fame Award recipient 1983

Robert A. Heinlein was born in 1907 and was known as one of the “big three” masters of classic science fiction along with Issac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He was one of the most influential and controversial authors of science fiction. People to this day argue about the ideas that Heinlein presented and this would have undoubtedly delighted the man.

Heinlein invented many of the tropes we now take for granted in the genre of science fiction. His stories addressed the importance of individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation that individuals owe to their culture, the influence of organized religion on society and government and the tendency of people to repress nonconformist thought.

“Revolution is an art that I pursue rather than a goal I expect to achieve. Nor is this a source of dismay; a lost cause can be as spiritually satisfying as a victory.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress begins during the year 2075 in the underground colonies of the Moon. These three million inhabitants are criminals, political exiles and their descendants from all over the Earth, with men outnumbering women 2:1. This makes polyandry the norm in “Loonie” culture. The Lunar Authority’s master computer, HOLMES IV (High-Optional, Logical, Multi-Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV) has almost total control of Luna’s systems. When computer technician Manuel Garcia “Mannie” O’Kelly-Davis discovers that the AI computer has secretly become self aware, he names it “Mike” after Mycroft Holmes, the brother of Sherlock Holmes, and the two become friends.

Mike is curious about the inhabitants of the Moon and asks his friend Mannie to place a recorder in an anti-Authority meeting. When the cops come to raid the gathering, Mannie escapes with a blond agitator named Wyoming “Wyoh” Knott. Together, they join an elderly political activist, Professor Bernardo de la Paz who informs them that if Luna does not stop exporting hydroponic wheat to Earth, the imbalance caused by constant loss of bio-mass will result in food riots within seven years and cannibalism in nine. With nothing to replace what is loss, their ecosystem will collapse. Wyoh and the Professor want to start a revolution to solve this pressing problem and Mannie is persuaded to join them at Mike’s request.

The AI takes on a new persona named “Adam Selene” and becomes the leader of the revolution movement. Adam can only connect with humans via a phone, after all, he does not have a body, but by working with Mannie, Wyoh, and the Professor, he is able to be involved. At first, the covert cells, protected by the AI make little progress, but when Mannie saves the life of a rich, well-connected tourist, public opinion on Earth begins to look more favorably on the lunar colonists and their cause.

Earth does not release the Moon without a fight. Troops are sent to the Moon to quell the rebellion, but riots among the people erupt when a soldier rapes a female colonist. It is the last straw that provokes the Loonies to overthrow the Lunar Authority’s Protector and to create a defense system to protect the colonies from Earth. They modify an electromagnetic catapult that was once used to export wheat into a rock throwing weapon capable of much destruction on the planet.

The AI continues to control the communications and impersonates the “Warden” in messages to the Earth. This gives the revolutionists time to organize. The Professor sets up an “Ad-Hoc Congress” to distract any dissenters. Finally, Luna declares its independence on July 4, 2076, the 300th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence.

Mannie and the Professor travel to Earth and are received by the Federated Nations. They begin a world tour to tout the benefits of a free Luna while urging the governments of Earth to build a catapult of their own to transfer bio supplies to Luna in exchange for grain. Their efforts are rejected and the two become imprisoned. Later, they are freed by the man they rescued at the beginning of the revolution and they travel with him back to the Moon. When they return, an election is held and Mannie, Wyoh, and the Professor are elected as leaders of Luna.

The Federated Nations of Earth once again send troops to destroy the Loonies, but the revolutionaries fight back against great odds and large loss of life. A rumor is heard that Adam Selene was among those killed, which frees the AI from having to appear in person. The AI uses the catapult to launch rocks at sparsely-populated locations on Earth, warning the inhabitants that the lunar “missiles” are coming, but the people of Earth don’t heed the warnings and many die. This causes the people of Earth to turn against the new lunar nation.

A second attack destroy’s the original catapult, but the ingenious Loonies build a secondary one in a secret location operated by Mannie. The former computer tech turned commander continues the attack on Earth until the planet concedes Luna’s independence.

Mannie takes control of the new government after their victory, but he and Wyoh gradually withdraw from Lunar politics as they discover that the new government falls short of their expectations. When Mannie attempts to speak to Mike, the AI’s replies indicate that the computer has lost its self-awareness and human-like qualities as a result of either the damage suffered in the war or of shock.

Probably one of the greatest influences I had as a science fiction writer is Robert A. Heinlein. I have read just about everything that he has written and a few of his novels rank among some of my favorites. Many of the tropes that are commonplace in science fiction today were invented by this man. There is an old adage that states: “Heinlein was there first.” For the most part, it is true! If you want to write science fiction or are interested in becoming more versed in the genre as a reader, this is one of the authors that you should read.

Heinlein remains a controversial figure to this day. If you are a feminist, you will have difficulty with Heinlein. Our views on culture, marriage and the roles of women have changed in the 50 years since this novel was written. In The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, there are women that marry at 14, women that endure whistles and catcalls because of their physical looks, and while there is racial diversity among the Loonies, many racist ideas of the time period still come through in the writing. Yet, during the time that Heinlein wrote his stories, he was considered ground-breaking for his forward thinking. The novel features Heinlein’s ideas about individualism, libertarianism, and free expression of physical and emotional love.

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about this book was the development of the AI computer. Remember, at the time the novel was written, a computer that filled a room could barely do what a one dollar throw away calculator does today. AI Mike doesn’t go crazy and attempt to destroy humanity as many tropes might have him do now, instead he wants to learn what is funny and what it is to be human. With more robots being built and AI becoming a reality, this is an idea that we as a people are going to need to explore.

The idea of life on the moon and the weaponization of space is a concept who’s time has come with the advent of privatized space programs popping up all over the world. There will be many people in space able to “throw rocks” at the Earth as nations and corporations begin to develop the resources in the asteroids, and the Moon.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress Book CoverHeinlein wrote in the voice of his era. He is imaginative and smart, but he still retains many of the ideas and limitations of the world that he lived in. How many writers can overcome this overwhelming thing called “their lives”? Even so, he manages to see into the future and his best guesses were not all that far off the mark. Give The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress a read with an open mind. Yes, it is a little dated, but you will find many of the ideas that have shaped science fiction as we know it today inside its pages.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThis week the writer’s links feature marketing information geared toward authors, recommendations about writers’ conferences, and a few research links. I particularly thought the longsword fighting video was excellent for all you fantasy writers out there. Enjoy!

Author Marketing 101: Ranking The Social Networks

Ask the Agent: What do I do with a bad review?

How Authors Can Use Listmania to Promote Their Books

How Much Should You Charge For Your E-Book? 7 Questions to Help You Decide

Ten Great Reasons (Plus One) to Attend a Writers’ Conference

VIDEO: Inside the World of Longsword Fighting

Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress

The Words Are Everything

Confessions of a Pantser

Writer Creates “Color Thesaurus” To Help You Correctly Name Any Color Imaginable

Tips For Successful Author Readings

Wendy Van Camp SpeaksAuthor readings are a great way to present your new book to the public. It allows you to give a personal sample of your writing, interact with potential readers, and can turn into a sales event. There are many venues to set up a reading location: bookstores, libraries, seminars, book clubs, restaurants and even private homes. In my area, the writer societies have “salon readings” on a semi-regular basis. If you are a paid member of the society, you can usual find a space in their advertised reading events. I am finding that these events are well attended, with 20 to 30 audience members and some record the readings and turn them into podcasts to go onto the web. It is a win-win for both the writer and the readers because it is a great way for writers to present themselves to new fans and for fans to find authors that interest them.

I have prepared a few tips on getting ready for a reading based on my former experience as a talk show television host. These are some of the things I’ve done to get ready to go “on the air” during my younger days when I hosted “Flowers by Rod”, a how-to program about flower arranging and “Class Act”, an interview talk show.

Rehearse

Remember that a reading is performance art. You are “on stage” the moment you walk into the venue. No matter how many people are there, you want to make a good impression. Choose three or four short passages from your novel. You may only read one or two at the salon, but it is good to have alternate options available if needed. Read your selections out loud while facing a mirror in the privacy of your own home. If you own a video camera, consider video taping your reading performance so you can view it and make any corrections necessary.

Wardrobe

Yes, it is difficult to watch one’s self on television, but remember no one has to see it but you. This is also a good time to select wardrobe. You can see for yourself how you will appear to the audience if you record yourself in your wardrobe choice. Does the fabric move with you? Does the outfit reflect your mood as an artist? Most authors wear clothing that is dressy casual and have something that pops that members of the audience might remember. If you are female, an artistic piece of jewelry is often a good idea.

Biography

You should prepare a written bio to take with you. Often times you will hand this to the moderator, who will introduce you to the audience before your reading. However, sometimes you will be expected to introduce yourself. Keep it short and if possible, humorous. Practice your bio information so you can recite it naturally when needed. As a television host, I would often sit and chat with my guests for a short time before the program and base my introduction on this, but I feel that it is best to be prepared with something in writing too.

Timing

Do not read too long. I would prepare no more than ten minutes of prose to read. When you practice your readings at home, make sure you time it. Ten minutes may not sound like a long period of time, but for a performance, it is substantial. Think about how long a typical television segment on a television program is. That is what you should be aiming for.

After your reading, you should be able to take questions from the audience. You will get typical questions such as:

Where do you get your ideas?
What do you use to write with?
Who are your favorite authors?
Why did you become a writer?
What inspires you to write?

Be prepared to answer questions such as these ahead of time. The readers are seeking a more personal connection with you as an author. They want to know what is behind the story you’ve written, the deeper meaning that is not readily apparent.

Performance

Do your best to relax when reading your work. Stand comfortably and speak clearly. Do not bury yourself in your words, try and look up from time to time and make eye contact with the audience. During question and answer sessions, talk directly to people, remember to smile, and just be yourself.

If you can calm your nerves, your performance time is a wonderful way to gauge how your audience reacts to your words. It is similar to when you are in a critique group and have someone else read your story out loud and then you the author can sit back and gauge the reactions to the story. What is great about a reading is that the audience are not always fellow writers, they are the true public that reads your work. Seeing their reactions can be a golden opportunity.

Publicize

Before your reading date at the Salon, make sure you announce it via your social media platform. Post on your website, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. Send out a press release to shopping guides with calendars of community events or to your local paper.

Books

Bring a box of books to sell at the event, fliers or cards with links to your ebook seller sites, or if you are in a bookstore, make sure your book is stocked on the shelves. Double check with the bookstore about their policy of who sells the books to the audience. You want to be able to return to this location, so keep the store happy. If you do bring books, make sure that you sign them, even ones that the store may purchase from you to sell later. Some stores like to keep autographed books on a front table after your appearance is over for book collectors.

Author Interview: Cheryllynn Dyess

When I asked CeeCee how she might describe herself, she answered: “Never forget where you have been, so you can remember where you may not want to go again.” Experiencing the unique insights and thoughts of the author is one of the reasons we read. I am glad to introduce this southern fantasy author to you here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Cheryllynn DyessI am Cheryllynn Dyess. I am a forty-two year old woman born and raised in the southeastern part of the United States, mainly Georgia and Florida. I was raised loving the outdoors and being crafty. I enjoy fishing, crafting, reading, and football. I graduated from the University of Phoenix with my BA in Healthcare Administration/Health Information Systems. I have about twenty years of healthcare experience from reception to health aide to dental assisting in oral surgery to management. I have always had a drive to take care of others.

I am a mother of four and two grand-babies. I have three fur babies. Two Chihuahua’s and one Chihuahua and one mini Australian Shepherd mix. Currently, writing is one of two occupations I have. Avon is the other. Yes, I am the Avon Lady! I have been in Avon for two years and it has been very successful for me. The earnings from Avon have paid for all the publishing and marketing costs of my books as well as many household bills. Actually, I started Avon to pay for my writing expenses and the business has grown immensely.

When and why did you begin writing?

In the mid to late 1980s, I began scribbling away thoughts and pieces of crumbs to whole dishes that are now poems. I began writing for no reason other than I felt the drive to do so. My hand met the pen and the pen met the paper, creating many pieces of work that are still on the original paper from decades ago.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Two years ago I began writing as a serious notion to be a writer, but only when I saw my first book published in my hands did I acknowledge that I was an actual writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My most recently published book is Kyluna, Jein’s Journey Series Book 3. In Kyluna, Jein has been accepted as the type of woman she wants to be and now is allowing herself to accept her destiny. Accepting love and fate has always been a struggle for Jein, since meeting Rohm she has had little choice but to accept and enjoy what life has meant for her. She finally finds a land worthy of her people and is visited by…well, now you will have to read the book to learn that part.

What inspired you to write this book?

I am not sure that inspiration drove me to write this series to be honest. It’s hard to explain, I was told I should write a book because I had talent. So one day I said, “Okay I will.” I sat at the computer and Jein’s Journey started to unfold. In many ways Jein is a reflection of myself, so in that case I am my own inspiration.

Do you have a specific writing style?

When I write I typically grab an idea and start writing, editing and rewriting. I do not plan much although I do research when needed.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Jein’s Journey was a given title when I knew it would be more than one book about Jein. Jein’s Journey is not only about where she goes to look for a home for her people but also about her journey with life.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The underlying message in my novel is to accept who you are and to always be true to yourself no matter what. Too many times people change who they are to fit others desires and needs and this is not how we should be at any time.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The events are not comparable to any in my life or any others that I am aware of, but as for experience, yes. The general feeling of being an individual different than what others deemed acceptable, always struggling with being true to oneself, is in reference to me. I grew up in a home where I could not be myself and when I did, I was chided greatly for not being what I was expected to be.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Writing influences most comes from Edgar Allen Poe, others include more recents like J.K.Rowling, T.M. Nielsen, Jennifer Malone Wright and N.K.Jemisin.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Kristy Charbonneau did the cover design on all my books, not just this one. I was refered to her from a fellow author and was greatly impressed with her work from my first self-published book and had to have her to repeat her magic for me.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Advice for writers, well I would say first if you chose to write know that your work does not end at the ending page of the story. Whether you are self-published or published through an agent the work does not end with the hit of the submit button. Martketing, marketing and marketing are forever a job. I would advise that a writer take time to read about several paths that are available for editing services, cover designs, formatting professionals, publishing venues and most of all marketing. There is a lot of work to write a book but if you do not do the proper amount of work to get it in the hands of readers it was all for not.

My second huge piece of advice is to remember that you will not please all readers. If you have a style of writing and a genre you prefer then stay true to yourself and your writing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To all my readers and to any readers, really, remember that the author you are reading the work of has poured their souls out for the world to see openly so do them a kind favor and leave a review of that book you just read. Let us authors know how you like the work or follow us on one of our social media networks. We love to hear feedback and to have interaction with our readers. As always, I would love to say thank you to my readers for taking the time to consider my work, purchasing it and reading it.

kyluna book coverCheryllynn Dyess
Central Texas

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Cover Artist: Kristy Charbonneau

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksThe topics for this week’s link roundup are a range of subjects, they feature more about handwriting, marketing as an author, and general writing topics. I’ve also included an article about slide rules. Why? Well, Robert Heinlein’s science fiction is filled with references to this mathematical tool and I’ve been fascinated about them for that reason. Call it a quirk!

Learning to Write with the Non-dominant Hand

When Not “Earning Out” is a Good Thing

The Problem of Entitlement: A Question of Respect

Author Marketing 101: Facebook Marketing For Authors

Tips for Pitching to Literary Agents at a Writers’ Conference

Slide Rules

FREE Novel Writing Software – and how to use it!

ANATOMY OF THE PERFECT BOOK COVER DESIGN

WRITING AN AUTHOR’S BIO

Copying the Masters: Learning from great writers past and present