Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
All right! What an ending! I won't spoil it, but it's one hell of a satisfying ride.
As I read it, I kept saying to myself, "Damn! This was MADE for HBO. (Or Showtime.) This could be done Brilliantly as a well-funded high-quality production. Hell, this would be even better than GoT, and not only because it's SF instead of F! It's full of glitz, sex, the weight of history, capitalism, and tradition, not to mention all the sprinkling of assassinations and attempted assassinations to liven the party. Plus, it has all the glory of THE MOON. Heinlein, eat your heart out."
First off, expect nothing less than a huge story of dynastic families struggling for control of the moon. There's tons of characters and a great many of them get stage time. That's not really a problem if you're used to some of the great epics. Hell, Even SOIAF (or GoT for everyone else) is rife with it. Tons of characters, lots of build, lots of tearing down, and a sense of something truly grand being laid out before us.
Now, I have to be honest. I've never read Mario Puzo, but I am, like most red-blooded males and females, quite familiar with the Godfather. I've enjoyed the character builds, the struggle for family, business, and love. I've loved the struggle so much that I get giddy even at the flashbacks and the humble beginnings. All these things rambled in my mind as I read Luna. Gloriously.
Ian McDonald's wonderful novel is not a retelling or a knock-off of the Godfather set on the moon. But it is just as deep and complex and wonderfully fleshed out as if I was growing up in New York City, carving and empire out for myself in Adriana's reminiscence, or living in modern day Luna, seeing all the fruits of your labor and feeling a deep pride in your accomplishments, knowing that family, whether by flesh or sentiment, is the most precious thing in either world. Earth is the old world, literally, and the Moon is the New World. It flows very naturally, and all of these wonderful lives made a stunningly detailed tapestry.
I generally don't prefer epic dynasties in my reading habits, but when I do get through them, I'm generally floored by the amount of care and precision placed into every line, every word. There's something truly brilliant about the effort placed into this novel in precisely the same way.
So: Total Respect.
Soon after starting it, I did have to scale back a few expectations. I've read a few of his novels, before, and I've learned to relax into the characters, never expect grand revelations early or even mid-novel. On the other hand, I've learned that I can always expect a huge revelation or an action at the end.
I've learned to be patient. Trying to discover a plot in his books is like digging for clues of a lost civilization in ten meters of sand.
Fortunately, the civilization always exists. We did buy the shovels and dustpans and brooms. And McDonald even provided us a wide cast of characters (read archeologists and interns) to do all the heavy sifting. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the process in mute admiration. Things have a way of unearthing themselves.
And what a story! I find myself itching all over to pick up the next novel, setting google alerts on his writing status for it, bemoaning the fate that I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO READ IT FOR SOME HORRIBLE FUCK OF A TIME. Gaaahhhhhrrrrgggghhhh!
Did I love this book? You better fucking believe it.
Did this manage to make my list of the best SF of the year? Yes. In fact, I would not be disappointed if it earned itself the Hugo for 2015 for Best Novel. It's hellaimpressive. It's a great epic read. It's also filled to the brim with imminently plausible science. Not a single thing was out of place. No handwavium for 68 thousand kilometers. That's also pretty damn impressive. But the bad? It doesn't break new SF ground EXCEPT in how it teaches SF to fear an awesomely new height in epic familial dynasties. I've seen things like this in Fantasy, too, but this happens to rooted deliciously and consummately in our Earth.
This was totally worth it.
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