Tag Archives: Luna: New Moon

Books Reviewed 2015

Here is  housekeeping post, collecting all the books reviewed here in 2015.

Looking back at this list, I see that this year saw Terry Pratchette’s last book (a wrenching experience), and new novels by old favorites Stross, Perry, Macguire, Holt, Gaiman, among others. I also read older but still good histories by Goodwin and Graeber. I read several books about banking, Papal and otherwise, and overlapping works about Italy, fictional and (supposedly) real.

Over the year, I reviewed a sampling of important books about contemporary digital life, including cryptocurrency, the “sharing economy”, social media, and “mind change”.   These works covered a spectrum from enthusiasm to dark worry, giving us much to think about. There are many more I did not have time or energy for. (I will say more on this topic in another post)

Throughout 2015 I continued my ongoing investigation of the question, “what is coworking?”, including reviews of two recent (self published) books about coworking by practitioners. (More on coworking in another post.)

Shall I name some “Best Books” out of my list? Why not?

Fiction:

There were so many to pick from. I mean, with Neil Gaiman in the list, how can I choose? But let me mention two that are especially memorable

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Very imaginative and well written, and, for once, not so horribly dark. This book lodged in my memory more than others that are probably equally good.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Published a few years ago, but I didn’t read it until this year. A wonderful, intricate story. The flight of the parrot is still in my memory.

Nonfiction:

There were many important works about digital life, and I shall try to comment on them in another post. But three books that really hit me are:

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
From several years ago, but I didn’t read it until this year. Highly influential on the ‘occupy’ and other left-ish thinking. This is an astonishingly good book, and long form anthropology, to boot. Wow!

Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-Changing In-Home Coworking Space by Lori Kane
An exlectic little self-published book about “home coworking”, which I didn’t know was a thing. Kane walked the walk, and made me think in new ways about community and coworking.

Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
Unexpected amounts of fun reading this short book. It does an old, graying nerd no end of good to see that at least some of the kids are OK. Really, really, OK.

List of books reviewed in 2015

Fiction

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen
Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick
Candy Apple Red by Nancy Bush
Chicks and Balances edited by Esther Friesner and John Helfers
Corsair by James L. Cambias
Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Diaspora by Greg Egan
Distress by Greg Egan
Electric Blue by Nancy Bush
Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Mort(e) by Robert Repino
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey
String of Beads by Thomas Perry
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine ed. by Jonathan Strahan
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff
The Good, the Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt
The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray
The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Ultraviolet by Nancy Bush
We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler
Witches Be Crazy by Logan J. Hunder
Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Non Fiction

Arrival of the Fittest by Andreas Wagner
Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols
Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper
Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
God’s Bankers by Gerald Posner
LaFayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Let’s Be Less Stupid by Patricia Marx
Live Right and Find Happiness by Dave Barry
Merchants in the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi
Mind Change by Susan Greenfield
Mindsharing by Lior Zoref
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
No More Sink Full of Mugs by Tony Bacigalupo
Not Impossible by Mick Ebeling
Pax Technica by Phillip N. Howard
Peers, Inc by Robin Chase
Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-Changing In-Home Coworking Space by Lori Kane
Speculative Everything by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Age of Cryptocurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey
The Art of Forgery by Noah Charney
The Next Species by Michael Tennesen
The Reputation Economy by Michael Fertik and David C. Thompson
The Social Labs Revolution by Zaid Hassan
The Ugly Renaissance by Alexander Lee
Twentyfirst Century Robot by Brian David Johnson
Women of Will:  Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays by Tina Packer

 

Book Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Luna: New Moon” by Ian McDonald

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald’s latest story live up to our expectations, a complex and strange story, set in a gritty technological future—filled with actual people trying to make it. If you haven’t read his other works, go to your library and check them out.

In this case, the setting is the moon about a hundred years from now. About a million and a half people live on the moon, mining it for minerals and Helium 3 to power Earth’s fusion plants. He fleshes out awe inspiring technology and the society that has developed.

The moon is technically run by the Lunar Development Corporation, so everyone on the planet is an employee not a citizen. Everyone has a chip implanted in their eye that continuously ticks down their resource usage, air, carbon, power, and data. If you run our of money, you are cut off. When you die, you are recycled, possibly to pay off your debts.

There is no government, no criminal or civil law. There is only contract law, which permeates all human interactions. Everyone is under contract, possibly many contracts. The culture is a wild blend of Earth derived ideas, and has developed a really, really, really free wheeling sexual ethos. The common argot does not even have words for straight or gay, only a spectrum of preferences. And humans can get very creative when they are free to make it up any way they want. At points we can only gape and , like one new immigrant in the story, say, “Goodness!”

In this environment, the society is extremely unequal, with the “Five Dragons” at the top. These five extended families/corporations control key economic monopolies, and operate as aristocratic fiefdoms, with many retainers, servants, and employees, dynastic marriages, and private armed forces.

Much of the story is about the internal and dynastic struggles of these families. The characters are realistic, if larger than life. But the super rich do tend to be peculiar, because they can do whatever they want. I can’t say I liked most of these bastards, but we are allowed to see glimpses of humanity and continue to hope that the little people will come out OK. Not likely, but we wish it so.

Of course, the technology is amazing, nearly magical in some cases, but totally believable. Giant orbital slings, huge rolling solar foundries,astonishing nano and biotech, and so on.

And much of the social organization is straight out of Silicon Valley’s playbook: everyone is networked and has personal agents, everyone is constantly executing micro contracts, corporations have data about everything and everyone, and everything is organized around “producing value for the stockholders”.

I’m trying to say, this is a really fine book.

And there is plenty of room for sequels: the fights are not over, there are deep waters that he hasn’t visited yet, and hints at some important secrets yet to be revealed.

It also occurs to me that, McDonald may have intended this to be a fitting tribute as we come up on the fiftieth anniversary of Heinlein’s seminal “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. Yet another miserable, oppressed lunar colony, with a twisted libertarian philosophy. Yet more political violence in a pressurized rat maze where death is only a few inches away. Yet another lesson in There Ain’t Any Such Thing As A Free Lunch.


 

  1. Ian McDonald, Luna: New Moon, New York, Tor, 2015.

 

Sunday Book Reviews