Saturday, November 21, 2015

Luna: New Moon

I just finished "Luna: New Moon", by Ian McDonald. This is a hard sci-fi story set on the moon late in this century. The population of the moon is 1.7 million. The 2nd generation of moon-born people are reaching adulthood. 5 "Dragons", basically industrial barons, control the moon and scheme against each other. The moon is I guess a libertarian paradise - there are no laws, everything is done by contracts. There are courts, but the litigants must hire the courtroom, the judges, the jury, whatever is required. There is a courtroom arena where disputes can be settled by combat - shades of "The Dosadi Experiment".

Meanwhile, as soon you arrive on the moon, you are fitted with a heads-up display showing you your account balances for the Four Elementals: air, water, earth, and, replacing fire, data. Low tier workers - serfs in this feudal system - are always struggling to keep these balances positive.

McDonald is a very good writer, and you really get a feel for what life on this version of the moon might be like. The characters are well drawn. Early on, the book reminded me of the old TV series "Dallas": feuding extractive industry clans, with family members matching lots of archetypes: the golden boy, the schemer, the warrior, the mystic, etc.

Also interesting was that, in keeping with the libertarian political setup, the sexual mores are quite creative - most of the characters are bisexual, but there are also asexual and me-sexual orientations. There are a fair number of sex scenes. I'm definitely getting old, not that much interest to me :-O

The book is 416 pages, it seems like is should have been longer - I was surprised when I checked and I was 3/4 of the way thru. It definitely violated my "100 pages per narrative thread" heuristic - I counted a minimum of 8 narrators, meaning it should have been 2x as long. But, it does wind up with a rousing and logical conclusion.

McDonald could conceivably write a sequel to this, but he seems to have enough new ideas to keep exploring new settings for his novels. My hat's off to him for that. There are some of my favorite authors where I am getting tired of reading sequels, and I think they are getting tired of writing them. But, I'm sure it is not the easiest way to make a buck.

1 of the 11 chapters of the book had already been published as the short story (or novella) "The Fifth Dragon", which I had already read. So McDonald got to do a little double-dipping there. I guess that's pretty common, not sure I enjoy it tho. Still, this is a most excellent read, and Joe Bob definitely sez, "Check it out".

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