Review: Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

mcdonald-luna-new-moonEarth’s moon has long been the source of some of history’s greatest literature. It provides us with a tantalising first step into the vastness of space, a focal point for spirituality and mysticism, it gives us tides and illumination at night, and a basis for unending tales of exploration and horror. Many of these stories focus on the hope that the moon brings, hope for change and discovery and limitless potential. However, most writers neglect one simple fact: there are a million ways to die on the moon.

Ian McDonald has not neglected this; he has embraced it.

When earth has all but collapsed due to energy shortages, it has fallen upon corporations, exploiting earth’s constant companion, to save it. Of course this is not an altruistic gesture. Where there is salvation, there is profit; and, much like the railroad companies of centuries past, there is nearly as much profit to be made from your employees as there is from your customers. On Luna, every breath you inhale costs you dearly, every drop of water its devastating price. Real food is reserved for the wealthy and most will live their lives pay-check to pay-check. Literally.

Luna isn’t simply a tale for survival, however. This is a story of the grand ambition of a family who struck it rich sifting through what others threw away, to become one of the Five Dragons – ruling families – of this once silent sphere. They must now struggle against the seemingly endless opposition who seek to bring down their empire as violently as possible. In a world where the only law is by consensus and contract, the only thing that costs more than survival is honour. While the members of the Five Dragons may never have to sell their bodily waste just for another breath of oxygen or sip of water, they must be ever vigilant. Greed and ambition know little by way of boundaries, and it may simply be a loophole in the fine print that keeps your family alive.

McDonald has penned one of the greatest feud stories of our time. Gone are the fantastical settings that often engulf the genre. Luna treats the idea of corporate warfare, of sedition and betrayal, of desperate survival in an unrelenting vendetta with a strong sense of realism and compassion. Both a work of technical and literary genius, Luna is a startling reminder of where humanity is heading. True to form, McDonald’s characters are deeply flawed, beautifully written individuals whose ambitions and fears are responsible for evolving the narrative in a stark and unforgiving setting.

Part warring states, part rags to riches, part film noir, and part prophecy, Luna is a novel that asks the dangerous question: when the moon has a million ways to kill you, what are you going to leave behind when you’re gone?

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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