Gunpowder Moon by David Pedreira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a free advance copy of this from the publisher for review.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but if you show me a space helmet with a hole in the visor laying on the surface of the moon…..I’m gonna read that book.
It’s the year 2072 and Earth has just begun to recover from a global climate catastrophe. Part of that comeback has been based on using helium-3 as a fuel source, and since the moon has oodles of the stuff there are now large scale mining operations happening on its surface. When Earth was in trouble all the nations worked together to do moon mining at first, but now that things are getting better everyone is ready to get back into greed and power grabs.
Caden Dechert is the chief of a small mining crew who just wants to do the work and keep his people safe, but when some of their equipment is sabotaged the American government is more than happy to point the finger at a nearby Chinese base. As things escalate Dechert may be the only person who can head off a full scale war on the moon.
There’s a lot to like in this one. It’s got a realistic and gritty portrayal of a near-future tech on the moon as well as having enough hard science to keep things grounded and relatable. The setting is well established so that you feel like you’re walking the corridors of this cramped underground moon base as well as experiencing the exhilaration and terror of doing long rocket assisted hops into pitch black craters. The plot has a lot of solid twists and turns with the set-up of a pretty intriguing mystery which then becomes more of a conspiracy thriller as events unfold.
I also was intrigued with the character of Dechert who is an ex-military guy who had a belly full of all the wars that popped off when Earth was at its most desperate and fighting for scant resources so he got off planet. Going to the moon to get the hell away from most people is an attitude I can relate to these days.
There’s an incredible tightness and economy to the writing so that David Pedreira is able to set up a detailed sci-fi concept as well as telling a good story. In fact, it’s just a little TOO economical. It’s less than 300 pages, and even though I’m all for an author getting it done that quickly I found myself wishing for a bit more story which came across as a little rushed at times.
It’s a good sign when the worst you can say about a book is that it left you wanting more.
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