Sci-Fi Novels Science Fiction Reviews

Red Moon: A Lunar Murder Mystery

Red Moon is more than a sci-fi tale set on the moon. It’s an examination of world political climates and the clash of citizens against governments in favor of a free and peaceful world order. Paired with intense scientific knowledge and a back-and-forth narrative, Red Moon gives a glimpse of a possible future, one where many of our problems are still real, and solutions may be on the horizon. 

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I only publish reviews of books I enjoy, and this novel meets that criterion.

RED MOON

By Kim Stanley Robinson
Orbit Books

Quick Summary: A man journeys to the Moon to deliver a package. Chaos ensues. Flying back and forth between a divided Moon and China, the man and his companion get caught up in an international affair with world-changing implications.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s newest release, Red Moon, takes us to the Moon and back. It’s a touch-and-go story, sending our protagonists on a chase to outrun their aggressors. The mystery whodunit takes a backseat to the deep conversation on political unrest and the will of the people to enact change. Robinson is sending a message, that corrupt governments of the future will still be faced with the will of the people. Here are a few things I enjoyed about the book:

It took me awhile to really get into Red Moon. The science was solid, and the moon is always an exciting setting, but I wasn’t connecting. Eventually I began to see the moments of brilliant intensity. One moment they’re on a bus, having a regular conversation and in the next, they’re walking through an open air market, experiencing a flourish of colors, sights and sounds. The main character doesn’t just pass through these places – he experiences them, and Robinson’s style allows us to experience them as well. There’s a focused intensity when all else falls away and you’re immersed in that one small moment. I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty of Chinese daily life as portrayed in the novel.

It’s clear that Robinson’s true passion is science. His tone and structure shifts dramatically when he’s discussing the scientific support or background of the formation of the Moon, or the makeup of its surface. It’s not just a novel, but a learning opportunity. I’ve read hard science fiction a bit, and this definitely stands out at the front of the pack. He isn’t just loading in facts to seem legitimate. He’s passionate about the source materials and wants the reader to truly experience what it would be like to walk on the moon, what it would feel like and look like.

There are so many books and movies depicting life on the moon. Many of them are wild, depicting planet-wide colonies that aren’t much different from Earth. Some are more realistic, but still describe a few questionable features. Robinson’s version is down-to-earth, showing us what the reality of moon life would be like. Granted, this is much further along a colonization timeline than first contact, but it still remains grounded in science. While the marvels of being on the moon are constantly apparent, the station itself is built for utilitarian purposes. It’s realistic and uses science to examine what would actually be possible.

I was amazed at the attention to detail in regards to Chinese culture and political history. From a broad history down to the delicate details of ancient architecture, Robinson has presented a deep, insightful look into a China of the future, influenced heavily by the past. Parts of the novel act as a call to action for peacekeepers everywhere, that one day, their voices will be heard. 

  • Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash
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3 comments

  1. Thanks for this review. I’ve been a fan of Kim Stanley Robinson since the Mars trilogy and didn’t know he had a new book out. He’s not a ‘light’ writer but you never forget his stories.

    1. I’ve been meaning to read the mars trilogy for some time and haven’t gotten to it. I’m definitely impressed at how deeply he understands the scientific aspects. It’s surprising to me that he’s not a scientist-turned-writer.

      1. Oh you must! Be warned though, they are not easy books to read. There’s also a lot of politics in with the science. He is brilliant though. So much of sci-fi is just hand-waving. He’s the real deal.

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