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Luna by Ian McDonald. Book Review

May 28, 2017


In the future the Moon is a place of opportunity with its rich mineral deposits. But it is also a place where ruthless family corporations vie for power.

Were Luna set on Earth, it would be a book about a group of mobsters vying for control of mineral rights in a remote country. The environment of the Moon creates both a distance from the Earth and a sense of battling against a world that’s relentlessly trying to kill you, never mind your corporate rivals. It is this lethal environment and the constant need to keep it at bay which adds an extra layer to the story.

Beneath the surface of the Moon, and sheltered from the hostile world where no human can live for more than a few seconds, is a vibrant but many tiered ecosystem of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. The very rich live in luxurious artificial biomes making money off the poor working for them for a pittance and struggling to buy enough oxygen to breathe, let alone the food and water needed to sustain them.

The children of the rich live in such luxury they only become aware of the perils of living on an airless rock when they take part in a sport which involves them racing across the surface of the Moon without a suit.

This is a frontier territory where people from Earth come to make their fortune. Few do, but those who have are locked in a perpetual power struggle. Marriages tend to be arranged and with a view to consolidations and shifts in power. The matriarchy of the Cortez’s is seen as the usurper in all this and is the family that has to work the hardest to maintain their position in the scheme of things.

What makes this novel particularly interesting is the degree of sophistication of the man-made environments and their fragility. Earth does not appear to be the easy hop, skip and jump away of most science fiction novels, making a refreshing change and adding to the tension.

There is a great deal of sexual content in this novel, something that is never easy to write well or use appropriately within a storyline. Ian McDonald handles this really well, dovetailing it into the plot to give a real sense of the personalities involved in this complex world.

As a thriller Luna delivers on all levels with the plot ramping up as the book goes on. Luna is the start of what looks to be an intriguing series worth following.

Luna was courtesy of Gollancz via NetGalley.

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