As you all probably know, Ken Murphy has been posting here on this blog, reviews of non-fiction, space-related books. What you may not know is on our companion forums, he has also be providing us with reviews of with lunar centric fictional books.
If it has a lunar theme, it is open for review so the books my be very science in nature or simply novelizations of space related movies or television shows.
For your convenience I’ve pulled them all together in one document with the most recent postings listed first. The results appear below:
“Earthdark” by Monica Hughes (1925-2003)
Published in 1992 (copyright 1977) by Mammoth, it weighs in at 122 pages. It’s a British publication (the author is Canadian), so I couldn’t find any errors.
Kepler Masterson is fresh back on the Moon from a brief sojourn on Earth. Born and raised on the Moon, he thought he’d be happy to get back, but how are you going to keep the kid down on the farm when he’s been to gaie Paris? He chafes at the confinement of the base in Mare Imbrium, and finds everything dull and colourless when compared with the vibrant beauty of Earth, even his chosen future-bride.
So in the best tradition of British boy’s adventure tales, Kep takes off on a harmless jaunt that turns far more sinister when a flare sends him in a mad dash to Aristarchus, where the LEMCON facilities are in the process of sucking up everything they can out of the Moon before packing up and leaving. There he stumbles upon sinister forces at work, and a complot that leads to Earthdark, beyond the furthest visible point (through libration) on the limb of the Moon that can be viewed from Earth. No more LOS radio communication, no more blue marble forever in space. What he finds there is a great wonder.
This is a fun juvenile that really isn’t dated in any way. Suitable for all ages. Definitely worth a waning three-quarter Moon.
“Human Resource” by Pierce Askegren
Book one in the Inconstant Moon trilogy
Published in 2005 by Ace Books, it weighs in at 280 pages. I don’t recall any errors, other than refering to the artifact found as an alien one.
Erik Morrison is a really unhappy man. He’s having a hard time adjusting to the 1/6th gee at Villanueva Base, a massive underground complex in Mare Crisium. He’s a kind of problem solver, some would say a nettoyeur. There’s problems on the Moon, and it’s not just with his company’s computers.
In the future, biology has been incorporated into computing devices, and recently they’ve been having problems with datastorms. Meanwhile, in the nearby Armstrong Base, researchers are struggling through the last gasp efforts of a publicly funded SETI project. Their representative to Villanueva has a few tricks up her sleeve, and there’s good reason to think that the search hasn’t been for naught.
This was a good read, and I look forward to the rest of the series. The deus ex machina of Psionics is a word I hadn’t seen since my days playing Traveller. Oh wait, turns out Mr. Askegren wrote one of the Traveller novels, “Gateway to the Stars”. Well whaddaya know.
This one gets a waning three-quarter Moon
“Saucer: The Conquest” by Stephen Coonts
Published in 2004 by St. Martins, it weighs in at 382 pages. Some minor spelling and grammar errors, but well-edited overall.
The story begins in mid-1947, when a band of scientists are shipped by the army to Nevada to investigate something they’ve found, a flying saucer. One young scientist of quick wit decides to take his research beyond what’s been permitted, then disappears.
Jump to the present. Rip Cantrell and his Uncle Egg are conducting research on adapting saucer technology to modern uses. Apparently Rip found a smaller saucer in the desert in Africa and had a big old adventure in a previous book (“Saucer”). The saucer sits in the NASM in Washington, D.C., and Rip is trying to figure out how to fit an airplane with an anti-grav unit.
Meanwhile, on the Moon…ne’er do wells plot and conspire to control the Earth. It’s not the UN this time around, it’s the French (clearly a sign of the times in which the book was written), who have spaceplanes and have established a base on the Moon. (and have the good sense to take their wine and cuisine with them) The usual visions of empire lead to kidnappings, violence, saucer chases, saucer battles, saving the Earth, etc.
It’s a brisk read, and some thought has been put into how things would work on the Lunar surface. It would probably to be helpful to have read the previous book, if only because of the amount of back-referencing.
A good half-Moon.
“Dead Man on the Moon: A Luna City Special Investigations (LCSI) Novel” by Steven Harper
Published in 2006 by Phobos Books, it weighs in at 248 pages. A few homonym errors, but the spelling and punctuation errors were minimal. Hat tip to Mark Whittington over at the Curmudgeon’s Corner for bringing this one to my attention.
Noah Skyler has won a scholarship to study criminal science at Lunar University in Luna City, Mare Crisium. As part of his studies he’s required to provide useful service to the community (a good idea, in my opinion) and so is quickly wrapped up in a murder investigation (then two! What’s the Moon coming to?) and retained by the local performance community to stage some vaudeville comedy. He’s got roommate troubles, girl troubles, work troubles, and he hasn’t even been on the Moon a week.
This is a smoothly written older juvenile/college/twenty-something-aimed novel that tries to be true to the application of the forensic sciences in Lunar conditions (and succeeds as far as I’m concerned). The city is a domed marvel, and again points up the importance of having plants everywhere possible in off-Earth facilities. My favorite description is of the fish tanks:
“The screen was there, Noah had learned, to keep the fish from jumping out. In the Moon’s microgravity [sic], the average trout could leap three or four meters, and a serious jumper like a salmon could easily brain itself on the ceiling”.
There’s also a 3-D velcroed maze called the Spider Gym similar to the one in “Growing Up Weightless”, but with a touch of X-Men ‘Danger Room’ influence. There’s also the reinforcement of TANSTAAFL: “It’s the Luna rule, you know – you have to trade for everything”.
The characters are developed, and the situations are the kinds of things young turk (meant in the colloquial, not derogatory, sense) teen/twenty-somethings are going to encounter. There are a few graphic adult situations, so probably not a book for younger teens. Not too much swearing, though.
I’ll give this one a waning three-quarter Moon.
Moonwake by Anne & Paul Spudis
Published in 2006 by Xlibris, it weighs in at 131 pages. A few grammatical and spelling errors.
Mike Wren is an unhappy thirteen year-old young man. Heâ€™s going to go to Moon whether he likes it or not (he doesnâ€™t) now that his mother has a job as a teacher. His dad has already been commuting to the Moon for his work as a Lunar geologist. Prepared to be miserable, especially since heâ€™s leaving all of his friends behind, he actually finds the families on the Moon to be quite friendly. The education is structured more towards homeschooling projects that are useful, and young Mike quickly finds he has an interest in finishing putting together a rover, and thus do our adventures begin.
This is a fine juvenile in the tradition of â€œGrowing up Weightlessâ€ or â€œHigher Educationâ€, but much more wholesome. It is very well written, and I have no doubt that educational curricula could be drawn up around this book, as with Heinleinâ€™s â€œHave Spacesuit, Will Travelâ€ for World Space Week last year. It is jam-packed with solid Lunar knowledge conveyed in a subtly pedagogic way. The story is engaging for both young men and women, with Mike and Toni as the male and female newly-minted teen protagonists, and their friends Laura and Jason as Lunar visitors. Itâ€™s strictly PG, so thereâ€™s no concern of questionable content.
While obviously geared towards juveniles, there are probably more than a few grown-ups who could profit from reading it as well, if only to bone up a bit on current Lunar thinking. The authors cover a lot of territory, and must have done one of those Zero-G flights to so accurately describe weightlessness. Itâ€™s a quick read, as we barrel from one life-threatening calamity to another. Life on the frontier can be brutal and one has to be careful. Nevertheless, it can also be a place of never-before-seen wonder.
This is a wonderful book, and I wholeheartedly give it a full Moon.