Tag Archives: #Science Fiction

Book Review: Mother Moon

I’m a bit particular when when it comes to SciFi. I strongly prefer what was once called “hard” SciFi, but is more often now considered “speculative fiction.” The key to the genre is in according proper respect to real science-i.e., staying within the realm of the possible, and not bounding over to complete fantasy or pseudo-science.

For a science fiction author, towing that line and still rendering a mind-bending, personal, and exciting tale remains more of a trick than readers may think. Bob Goddard does it well in Mother Moon, a story which weaves together the tale of a Moon colonists forced to fight for their survival after a comet hits Earth, and a rough hewn sailing family whose sea-life is threatened by religious oppression. I was first attracted to this book by its promising mash-up of these two stories.

Readers are given a quick early glimpse into each of these worlds, then the story focuses mainly upon the valiant struggles of an ensemble of lead characters working to save the moon base. Goddard shows us a team of smart, dedicated protagonists, who must use their talents and wits to overcome one quite credible crisis after another. During the lead-up to the comet’s impact, we learn their strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears. And–as their personal stories unfold–it is easy to develop a strong empathy for them.

I found myself rooting for the main characters, Will, Lian, and Tamaya. But ultimately it is Nadia, the colony’s governor, whose strength, foresight, and professionalism is at the center of the story. Her insights, dedication, and (importantly) ability to inspire trust in the others, is what ultimately secures the future of the colony.

Goddard handles the science and mechanics of running a colony masterfully. He provides detail enough for readers to follow and understand, but never lets it slow down the story. The pacing is steady and engaging..

Periodically, Goddard takes us back to a the story of Yonoton, a ship’s master sailing with his sons on a square-rigged vessel, the Pelican, to trade with other lands. But his ship has been confiscated by a Cardinal to spread religion to foreign lands by force and brutality. It’s an unhappy situation for Yonoton, and he knows he too is at risk from being declared a heretic by the cardinal and his men.

I personally enjoyed when Goddard downshifted into Yonoton’s story. It is a very straight-forward tale, but I would have liked to see stronger insights on some elements (foreshadowing) it introduces. While both tales are about courage and bravery, Yonoton’s is also a morality tale, with an unusual finish.

Overall, Mother Moon has a satisfying and interesting ending that should delight many. I certainly enjoyed the entire ride, recommend it to anyone who enjoys SciFi, and particularly recommend it to those who prefer hard SciFi. It’s inspiring, and a good story.


Speculative Selection

Change Is Coming!

In my current Work-In-Progress, set in the near future, I portray Earth society as beginning a societal transformation as result of an external event–the knowledge an alien race intends to “acquire” Earth for all its assets (including its highly skilled workers). Earth has enough time and some unexpected resources to make preparations without worldwide panic. But the focus is on less on the alien threat, and more on overcoming the distrust between nations and molding public opinion. My protagonists must overcome those formidable obstacles and forge trustworthy alliances in order to prepare a viable defense for humanity. However, first they must discourage their government allies from spying, trying to steal dangerous alien weapons technology, and threatening each other.

I try avoiding the most common social issues of the day, except for casual acknowledgements they exist–because the focus in on a more fundamental change of perspective about humanity (which I hope at least would help inform such discussions). However it is that change of perspective drives the theme of the story. 

That said, I have found this novel far more difficult to write than my first, which set the stage. Now that my characters are back on Earth, there is so much more detail and technical research to cover, if I want the story to be realistic (which I do). 

Picking and choosing “near future” technologies I think realistically possible is both fun and a curse. At least one key technology I’ve used has already made a small splash into the news. Fortunately, with all the disasters in 2020, that story got buried fast. Good thing–because I want it to still sound cool and new when I publish.  Today, we are on the cusp of major developments in many fields. But this story is not so much about new discoveries, as it is about the practical, commercial application of those discoveries. Many new technologies that already exist just haven’t been introduced into popular applications yet.

More urgently, for my purposes, I need to second-guess whether already announced space projects concerning the Moon and Mars will actually stay within their projected time-table. I’d hate to leave ‘future facts’ out of my equation. And, of course, any one that I show as not happening on schedule could raise the ire and criticism of those with stakes in their timely success.

The last thing I want is to bet against progress, but I’ve little choice but to make my best bet based upon the odds. Elon – Mea culpa. I’d love to believe in your schedule, but I think it relies more on faith than logic.

The other major problem, I find, is getting a firm handle on government protocols and procedures. First off, there’s a bit of a skewed logic that rules most government affairs. There are logical reasons for some things, but these are mostly built around dealing with illogical situations. Much of government is based upon how to deal with the absurdly stupid, which is why government structures and laws can be so maddening. They’re not designed around sane activities.

In any case, I’m working hard to create a believable balance and a story that will take readers headlong into the strangeness of a humanity in rapid transition.