Review: “Luna”

“Luna” by Garon Whited. Published in 2007 by Xlibris, it weighs in at 340 pages. Some editing and fact errors noted, but not bad for a self-published work of that length.

Sometime in the near future, there’s a crew on the way to the Moon to check-out and turn the key on an extensive Lunar facility that will eventually house thousands of residents. 300,000 km en route, they get to see the end of the world, consumed by nuclear fire. For all they know, they are the last survivors of humanity. Two men and three women and a well-stocked Lunar base designed for many many more people. So begins another slow climb back from the ashes of destruction for humanity.

The time is far enough in the future that there are other orbital facilities scattered between LEO and GEO. A Mars-bound craft is being constructed at Heinlein station, and there is an orbital colony at L-5. There’s also a rogue orbital weapons platform waiting to blast anyone who tries to communicate from Earth. Which becomes increasingly unlikely as they learn that some bioweapons got loose on Earth as well, wreaking havoc amongst survivors.

Their first rescue mission is to Tchekalinsky Station, where they learn that the struggle for the survival of humanity is far more primal than they first realized. They do get some more women out of the experience, but at a terrible cost. Being the last vestiges of a legal government carries some heavy burdens.

Next up is the Liwei Habitat at EML-5, trailing 60° behind the Moon in its orbit around the Earth. This is home to the last vestiges of the wealthy and privileged, and those burdened with seeing to their needs. Things have kind of gone downhill on the habitat, and the team only rescues some 100 of what they hope are reasonably healthy and sane individuals, including many technical staff. It’s when they get to the relative safety of the Moon that the wealthy and privileged start getting uppity. They expect to have things their way, and so take it upon themselves to hold an election to put themselves in charge of the military officers of the base. Why shouldn’t they? They’re the wealthy and privileged.

And so begins the battle for the future of humanity. One founded on the just application of laws, or one ordained by a privileged elite that expect you to embrace your providing of their life of privilege? Forget the fact that their “wealth” is radioactive dust blowing through the atmosphere of Earth, and the only real value they can provide is in maintaining a livable environment for everyone who’s left. The question is can they recognize that?

Overall an interesting speculation of humanity surviving the reaping of sown technological seeds, by using technology to take humanity out of the cradle, to the Moon and then onward to the asteroids, Mars, the moons of Jupiter and rings of Saturn, and the fuel depots of Uranus and Neptune, which will not only supply ample He-3, but also fuel the leap into the Oort Cloud.

A possible future, but we would need to get our act together in the present to achieve it, and that doesn’t look likely in the near future at least (yea though some of us are trying).

Back to the story, the Deus Ex Machina is provided by robotic technology, and the fact that once you get a certain ‘critical mass’ of equipment on the Moon, robots can make robots. For whatever need one might have, and they are put to ample use in the unfolding of the story.

In some respects Max, the protagonist of the story, reminded me of an old story that I read on my Palm Pilot while taking the subway to work about a decade before this whole Kindle/Nook thing. The main character was a muscle thug, but had a heart of gold and wins the dame in spite of his mug. I wish I could remember the title… The interaction between Max and the various ladies of the post-apocalypse has a certain Heinleinian feel to it.

Overall, lots of thrilling action and suspense. Having only a handful of human survivors trapped on a hostile planet sets a claustrophobic tone early on, with an undercurrent of omnipresent concern for the security of the air supply. The Moon is a harsh place. Like the harsh frontiers of Texas it can be turned into a place of prosperity, but it is going to take discipline, which the military generally has and civilians generally don’t. It is also going to take some harsh justice (as was once served up on the harsh frontiers of Texas, out around the Pecos, as I recall), though it is blunted with compassion in the story.

One of the better Moon-based stories out there, I’m going to go with a waxing three-quarter Moon for “Luna“.

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