The Moon and the Other by John Kessel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an awesome epic, but let me clarify this. This isn't Ian McDonald novel, but it *IS* as deep and complex in its interpersonal explorations, its social experiments, and more for its thought-experiment.
I'm honestly astonished by this man's writing. It's like reading a mix between John Varley and Ian McDonald, only we focus on how a planned matriarchal city on the Moon might look like from within and from without. Domed cities, flight in the open air, scientific exploration... all of this is here, but all of it is subservient to the real story.
This a novel about men and women. All kinds, all orientations. It's a matriarchal society, but there's nothing simple about it or surface about it. Kessel has managed to go deep into the ramifications in such a way that I'm frankly amazed.
The depth of the characterizations and the complexities of the questions raised make this a truly fantastic novel. It is more than equal with any traditional treatment of the subject, whether historical fiction, modern thoughts on feminism, being gay, or what it means to change the meaning of being a Man. I got lost in these pages.
More than that, I was delighted by the amazing amount of world-building, social exploration, and especially about the vast amounts of love, idealism, protest, regret, greed, and tragedy.
These kinds of thoughtful, complex, socially-focused novels come along only once in a blue moon. There's nothing trite or unambiguous about it. It's real people caught in the web of a future history.
Do NOT expect it to have a ton of action, murders, or intrigue. It's not that kind of thing.
The novel is about trying to change things. For good or ill, it's about how men and women get along with themselves or the Other. For this, I give it all the stars in the world.
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