Review: “Red Moon”

“Red Moon” by Chris Berman. Published in 2010 by Xpress Yourself Publishing, it weighs in at 298 pages. A variety of editing errors, mainly in the last third of the book. My favorite was Atkins Basin for Aitken Basin.

The time is the near future, 2017. A joint Russo-American mission travels to the Moon in a mission of peace as a prelude to efforts to exploit the ice fields of the Lunar south pole. And maybe catch a peek at the Chinese base that is already there for the same ends, ostensibly. The spacecraft passes behind the Moon, and mission controllers on Earth anxiously wait for the re-establishment of signal. And wait. Then watch in horror as a debris stream is revealed by radar. The Chinese base relays the unfortunate message that they saw the craft struck by an asteroid while it was over the far side. So sorry.

At least on the surface it appears that way. It turns out the Americans have slightly better intel than the Chinese give them credit for, and they know the truth – a missile was launched to the far side from the Chinese base that destroyed the international mission. But to what end?

The Americans suspect there’s more going on than meets the eye, and so begin a crash program to make sure they can get to the Moon and establish a foothold to counter the threat. Disgraced astronaut John McGovern, chased out of NASA for too vocally espousing a view of a strong Chinese threat to global space interests, is asked to return by the the President to cobble together a mission to the Moon within 60 days, with his good friend Norm Taggert (a clear nod to astronaut Norm Thagard) leading the charge at NASA.

Little do they know that the plans and machinations are far more complicated than they could ever imagine, as a deranged psychopath has worked his way into a position of significant power in the Chinese hierarchy, and has hatched a triple-blind plot to establish sole Chinese mastery of the Lunar surface, and thereby set the stage for Chinese domination of the entire world. Moves and countermoves position the pieces around the world, and government leaders find themselves on the terrifying precipice of nuclear holocaust.

Positioned squarely as a techno-thriller, this work makes extensive use of cislunar space (which the author misnomers as trans-lunar space), out to and including the Moon and its sphere of influence. The Chinese are there to harvest the metals of the Moon and sell them at a fair price to the ‘third world’ nations of Earth, or at least that’s what they try to sell the U.N. on, and almost get away with it thanks to some black ops. There’s devious sabotage, spies and moles at all levels everywhere on the hunt for the generous amounts of money that the Chinese can dole out, traitors and thugs, and a mad psychopath with access to a nuclear arsenal both on Earth and off.

It reads at a brisk pace, with lots of twists and turns. It does make extensive use of NASA’s Constellation rockets Ares I and Ares V and assumes that both would be ready by the late 20 teens. I do like the idea of cobbling together pieces of hardware internationally – a Salyut from Russia, a docking node from Europe, some American Lunar landers, and a “Bellamy Aerospace” inflatable hab to create a cislunar spacecraft.

The science is generally right, like the part with the vacuum breathing or the awkwardness of movement in 1/6th G, but some parts seem off, as when the spacecraft seems to loiter over the near side while a spycam takes a peek around the far side. The characterizations are sufficient to advance the plot, and it was interesting how the author tapped into elements of Chinese culture in developing the plot. Not merely the concept of “saving face”, but also folk elements like the idea of the rare individual, usually aided by a motley crew of supporters, who can rise up against overwhelming tyranny and do the right thing against unbelievable odds for the Chinese people.

There’re certainly pulse-pounding action sequences with lots of risk and high danger. Those wanting a little romance are also accommodated. The only real issue I had was with the increase in editing errors in the last third of the book. Some were obvious, like Navel magazine for Naval magazine or Atkins Basin for Aitken Basin (how much you want to bet that was an auto-spell-check change?), others the kind of thing only my Aspie brain would pick up on.

I’m going to go with a three-quarter Moon at perigee for “Red Moon

2 thoughts on “Review: “Red Moon”

  1. The author clarifies:

    “The one area that I did want to mention was that I did not have the Alliance linger over the near side of the moon. They were still on approach to the moon tail end first, and had not retro fired to insert into a lunar orbit. An “eye” is dispatched to fly a parabolic course, sweeping low over the Chinese installation and then back out of the Moon’s radio shadow to send the collected data. The coalition ship is still on approach. Once the presence of the A-SATs have been confirmed, then they decide to place the Alliance (P.229-230) into an equatorial orbit. since the Salyut is supposed to be a permanent orbital station, the EDS can expend more fuel since there is no need for an Earth return burn.”

  2. Hi,

    Just a head’s up on RED MOON. As you stated the editing was not really up to snuff and that was the responsibility of the publisher I had at the time. Since then, I had recovered my publishing rights and the book has been reissued through a new and very professional small press. It has been reedited and released as a new hardcover book.

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