Tag Archives: moon

Review of Luna: New Moon – Book 1 of Luna by Ian McDonald

Standard

I read Desolation Road, Chaga and Kirinya longer ago than I care to recall, so when I kept seeing reports of Luna on the book blogs I frequent, I decided to get hold of it, to see if the McDonald magic was still as formidably effective as I hazily remembered…

The Moon wants to kill you. She has a thousand ways to do it. The bitter cold of vacuum. The lethal sleetluna of radiation. Choking dust as old as the Earth. Your weakening bones… Or you could run out of money for water. Or air. Or simply run foul of one of the Five Dragons: the corporations that rule the Moon and control its vast resources. But you stay, because the Moon can make you richer than you can imagine. Adriana Corta is eighty. Her family run Corta Helio. They have survived the vicious corporate wars and the dangerous peace that followed. But now that peace is fracturing. Adriana may have to die but she will not be killed by her rivals, or the Moon. And whatever happens to her, Corta Helio will not die.

This is capitalism, red in tooth and claw. We follow the fortunes of various Corta family members, from the founding matriarch, Adriana and her children and grandchildren, as well as one particular newcomer – a Jo Moonbeam as Earth immigrants are dubbed – Marina Calzaghe. Think of Game of Thrones set in space – indeed, McDonald himself apparently named this duology ‘Game of Domes’.

The depiction of life on the Moon, with all its burgeoning opportunities set against an intensely hostile environment where every breath you draw has to be paid for, is vividly realised. We also get a ringside seat at the dynamics within the Corta clan – their ambitions, their strengths, flaws and loves. My particular favourite is the first person recollection by Adriana of her early days on the Moon, but all the family members are characterised by a streak of recklessness and striving to grab hold of life with both hands. Not that they are remotely cosy or even all that likeable – Rafa, Lucas and Ariel are all unpleasantly arrogant and entitled, however that doesn’t prevent them being engrossing. As with the Game of Thrones, things don’t necessarily go all that well for the main protagonists.

There are a number of assassination attempts and dynastic marriages are not sufficient to paper over the cracks steadily growing amongst the Five Dragons – what then happens to the subsequent offspring is that they become another resource to be fought over. McDonald’s evocation of a freebooting society teetering on the edge of utter lawlessness is beautifully portrayed.

So, does the story come to a satisfactory conclusion? Nope. Not remotely. It all kicks off near the end, so I put the rest of my life on hold to discover what happened to these characters I have come to know well throughout the book – only to get to the last page with no resolution whatsoever. This is the ultimate ‘to be continued…’ I wouldn’t have minded quite so much – but this is March 2016 and the sequel isn’t scheduled for publication until September. I have no idea what those who read this book back when it was first published back last September felt when they realised they would have to wait a whole year for any kind of resolution, but I am a tad fed up.
8/10

Advertisements

POEM – Mother Moon

Standard

As a young woman, I enjoyed walking alone at night looking at the moon and stars – until a scary encounter stopped my nocturnal wandering.  I wrote this as an expression of my frustration and sadness that I no longer felt safe enough to do so…

You send forth your milky
sweetness. Your silvered completeness
flowering for me to see.

You beacon the black night –
rounded in your contoured clearness,
powered to pull the sea.

You throw your welcome wide –
weaving spells of magic madness,
creating wells of tragic sadness
for those stranded in your tide.

You’re feared by the male mind –
your allure and maternal mildness
mistaken for a pretanatural wildness
by those who’d scorn womankind.

Oh Mother Moon, me and mine
are shuttered and trapped,
muffled and sapped,
our answering tune
strangled to a whine.

So, I shall never see dew-jewelled grasses
dance silvered, and gleaming in your milky tide.
For I am afraid to take the chance-

and instead
I press my hurting head,
against the chilly pane,
yearning for your silky touch –
in vain.

moon

Broken Promises

Standard


They call us the Baby Boomers.  We are the post-war birthrate bulge that were promised the best of the best – and then rebelled.  We plugged in and chilled out – not disconnected, though.  Never that.  We demonstrated.  A lot.  Against nuclear weapons; against the war in Vietnam; for equal rights for women; for a better deal for black Americans.  We wanted the Pill and legal abortion, free love and a fairer society.

We believed everything was possible – and why?  Because we were on our way.  Leaving the planet and going into Space.  Starting with the Moon, our generation confidently expected that we would continue the great human march out to the stars.  Amidst the worldwide celebration over the moon landings in 1969, I recall my grandfather declaring that I would probably live to see the first human land on Mars.  After Obama’s recent announcement scrapping plans to revisit the Moon, I’m not holding my breath – despite Buzz Aldrin’s gritted determination to put a gloss on the President’s decision.

Apart from the sheer oddness of the decision to by-pass the Moon ‘because we visited it 40 years ago’, when we have amassed a whole tranche of fascinating information that could be profitably investigated since then – I do wonder at the notion that we can successfully prepare for a manned mission to Mars, without trying out the equipment in the nearer, less testing conditions of the Moon.

But there is also a far deeper and more important reason why Humanity should continue to strive for the stars.  It is in our DNA to quest further – and if we continue to allow political and financial considerations to keep us tethered to an increasingly overcrowded Earth, the long-term effects won’t be pretty.  Those of us in First World democracies already speak of ‘economic migrants’ as if these folk were committing a crime in trying to reach somewhere better.   When all they’re doing is responding to an age-old instinct that drove our species out of Africa and across the planet millennia ago.

In breaking the promises made back in the days of my youth and shrinking our horizons, we have short-changed our children and their children, whose concerns seem pettier, less ambitious than those of our generation.  Do I sound like a grumpy old woman – you bet.  But, when I think back to bright promise of space travel…   When I think of the expertise built up in both Russia and America, that was dribbled away by timid politicians… I am also broken-hearted that Obama has joined that dreary list.