In this blend of mystery and science fiction, author Wayne Scott Harral focuses on 30 astronauts on a scientific journey. The story follows these scientists and explorers as they cultivate plants on the moon, search for ore deposits, conduct experiments, form emotional bonds and enmities—and navigate a murder.
The story is set in the foreseeable future, when nations worldwide are working together to make it possible to live on the moon. However, the astronaut group continuously becomes agitated as everyone wants to lead the way in developing their own countries’ programs. When a senior member of the base dies in what looks like a mishap, the narrative reveals clues that ultimately lead to the unsettling truth.
Harral delivers a telescopic overview of lunar life. One of the story’s great strengths is its emphasis on innovative and creative space technology: for instance, he portrays the astronauts’ use of gravity to successfully grow plants and describes new conveniences like 3DTV and Dyneema, the strongest fabric in the world.
A weakness, however, is the dialogue, which often bogs down with technical information, as when the astronauts discuss ore mining: “As you can see, commander,” says one character, “we were able to find several veins containing ore that were unexpectedly rich in iron and other metals we have been seeking. Consequently, excavation has been easier and faster than we had anticipated. The bottleneck is transporting it back here to the refining foundry.”
It can also be hard to keep track of the many characters (although the author offers a character index at book’s end to help).
Nonetheless, after a slow beginning with extensive scientific details, the plot quickly picks up speed and ultimately takes readers on a fascinating trip as they piece together the mystery. Overall, the novel offers a compelling plot for science fiction and mystery fans. Those intrigued about what living in space might be like in the future will also appreciate this story.
Also available as an ebook.