SciFi book, about a human colony on the moon. A central computer becomes sentient and forms an alliance or teams up with the main character.

Read 40-50 yr ago. Maybe school suggested it for general reading for English, yr 8-11. Forgotten whether the title has the word 'moon' or 'lunar' in it or not...(Can't remember title or author, sorry.)

  • 2
    What was the purpose of the alliance between the protagonist and the computer? Commented May 27 at 10:13
  • 1
    You could improve this Story-Identification question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 27 at 10:17
  • 1
    Sorry, I've flagged perhaps prematurely as the OP hasn't had time to confirm/disconfirm the answer. Leaving flag for now. Commented May 27 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


Maybe Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966)? A computer technician, Mannie, discovers that the computer system he services has become sentient. He is called "Mike" (I don't remember who picks the name) and they become friends.

The lunar colony is a penal colony, and the people there (released convicts, etc. and their descendants) are called "Loonies". They cannot return to (or go to, in the case of the descendants) Earth, because their bodies have changed from the low gravity.

The moon colony, with the sentient computer's help, stages a revolt against Earth. Mike indeed forms an alliance with Mannie and the rebels. They have no weaponry, so they throw rocks -- rocks launched from the moon to Earth, gravity and all, make a tremendous impact (literally and figuratively). They throw them at isolated areas, not cities, but they (well, Mike) can predict the time and location of the hits.

Other character names which might be memorable are Hazel (a young girl involved in the revolt) and "Wyoh" (Wyoming I think), a woman involved in the revolt.

Another very memorable bit from this work is the acronym "TANSTAAFL" - "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch".

  • 13
    Mike was a HOLMES IV system and Mike (as named by Mannie) was short for Mycroft
    – Paulie_D
    Commented May 27 at 11:41
  • 10
    Definitely seems like the right answer, and was my first thought as well. The Loonies can go to Earth, and in fact Mannie does as part of a political / publicity tour, but cannot survive there long. There is a lot of political theory in the work and many allusions to the American Revolution. The woman's name is Wyoming Knott but she goes by "Wyoh" and takes offense when people call her "Wy Knott". The book also popularized the concept of Linear Marriage.
    – Kirt
    Commented May 27 at 19:29
  • 3
    Mannie is Manuel O'Kelly Garcia. Wyoh marries into Mannie's line marriage just before Mannie is sent off to Earth. Other memorable characters are Professor Bernardo de la Paz and Stuart Rene LaJoie.
    – tsc_chazz
    Commented May 27 at 21:37
  • 6
    @Kirt - yeah, if you liked this book, then the title of the question just sort of flashes it in your eyes like a neon light :-). I absolutely loved this book when I was younger; I think I reread it several times.
    – Basya
    Commented May 28 at 7:46
  • 2
    @PeterM the paper (a thesis project, it seems) correctly cites O'Neill, but it fails to cite Heinlein 😉. BTW, harsh mistress is a great read, at least the first half (then it becomes more pamphlet-y, RAH style, although I still like it).
    – Rmano
    Commented May 29 at 6:47

"Steel Beach" by John Varley.

There's a Moon base; the Earth was destroyed thousands of years ago and the Moon base has learned to survive on its own.
The AI is already sentient when the book starts, it helps control nanobots in people's blood, constantly repairing tissue. Humans are thriving, but carefully regulate population and resources; they could theoretically live forever.
Our hero (a reporter, I think) is investigating a rash of deaths that shouldn't have happened. He learns to communicate with the AI as the story moves forward.

  • Is this in the same "universe" as Ophiuchi Hotline? The setup seems very similar! Commented Jun 3 at 14:35
  • @MauryMarkowitz Yes, Steel Beach is an Eight Worlds story, but it's not completely consistent with the earlier stories. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight_Worlds
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Jun 4 at 0:48
  • That's interesting, I didn't know he used this as a setting after Hotline. Mini-review: some good ideas, but the story is just all over the place, to the point of confusion. Commented Jun 4 at 23:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.