Harsh Mistress Coming to Theatres?

SCI-FI.com is reporting that Tim Minear has been hired to do the screenplay adaptation for Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

That’s excellent news — the novel’s been in limbo for forever and a day. The weird thing is how SCI-FI describes the book: “The novel deals with a 2076 rebellion on a former penal colony on the moon and has been read as an allegory about libertarianism and its costs.”

An “allegory about libertarianism and its costs”? Maybe it’s just me, but that phrasing implies that Harsh Mistress is a critique of libertarianism. I mean, if you used that same sort of sentence to describe Orwell’s 1984 (“an allegory about totalitarianism and its costs”) you’d definitely thing it was a critique.

But I don’t think Harsh Mistress is that at all. If anything, it’s a primer for libertarian revolution, one that sees it as the only possible cure for the terminal bureaucratic illness threatening the Moon. It’s certainly in line with Heinlein’s later libertarian/conservative views.

Now there are some costs — we see the protagonists manipulating the “Loonies” into supporting the revolution and these are certainly cynical, pragmatic shortcuts that I wouldn’t condone, but the overall gist of Harsh Mistress is that a libertarian culture is infinitely preferable to the dogmatic paternalistic socialism practiced by the groundpounders on Earth.

SCI-FI’s odd description aside, it sounds like Minear is going to stay true to the spirit of the book, as well as Heinlein’s opinions on politics. If so, the movie could be a great vehicle for bringing classical liberal thought to the masses. Hell it could do more than that. It could actually show people that capitalists can be revolutionaries too — something that America seems to have forgotten since her own birth over two centuries ago.

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