Monday, January 11, 2016

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Luna is like the lovechild of The Godfather and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (see Carolyn's review) or A Song of Fire and Ice set on the moon (but is a much shorter series).

There are five major corporate families that rule the moon.  They are several generations into civilization on the moon, and it has reached a crisis point where their almost-feudal arrangement is not quite working anymore, especially with the families constantly vying for power, and the Cortas are the newest and considered upstarts.  The Corta matriarch is dying in the middle of this uneasy time, and her children and grandchildren all have a part to play if the Corta family is to survive and thrive from this crisis. The characters, family drama, and scheming will have readers guessing until the end and still not know what to expect in the upcoming sequels.

Luna is more than just a story set in space or on the moon.  McDonald precisely blends his huge cast of characters, intriguing ideas, imaginative world building, unpredictable plots, and beautiful writing into one heady concoction. The world building and details here are incredible.  McDonald presents a convincing case of the difficulties and the many dangers the people living on the moon face on a daily basis.  The cities, society, culture, and attitudes that develop from this kind of environment reflect the adaptions they make.  They live in a kind of extreme fish bowl, dependent on so many things to live.  McDonald does not make info dumps, though the characters are constantly aware and alert to how many ways the moon can kill them.  He layers on the details of their lives and carefully integrates them to create a completely different society from earth.  There is beauty and glamour side-by-side with the harsh environment.  The inclusion of different cultures adds a sense of diversity and creates a melting pot feel.  There is a separate kind of culture and open attitude towards gender, sexual orientation, and sexuality, making it one of the more convincingly unique treatments in literature.  Even their justice system is unusual—there is no law, but there are contracts and constant negotiation to maintain discipline.  McDonald's writing here is excellent, going beyond solid and strong.  He mixes eloquence with blunt crudeness that captures his world beautifully.

Look for Luna: New Moon in the VBPL Catalog.  Try Ian McDonald’s other works.  For more interesting combinations, read Charles Stross’ Merchant Princes series about parallel worlds, a feudal mafia, and modern business practices.  Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy showcases an imaginatively nuanced society set in space (see review).

Review by Tracy V.

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