Volume 16, Number 2, Spring, 1998

Moonwar

By Ben Bova

Avon Books, 1998
Reviewed by Michael Grossberg

Ben Bova’s Moonwar is a sophisticated and plausible far-future novel. It is persuasive in its projections of lunar colonization and the impact of new technology on the economy and international politics.

Bova, a former Analog editor, has written more than 50 space sagas (Mars, Voyager) over three decades. Most are competent and entertaining but undistinguished.

With Moonwar, part of his ambitious Moonbase Saga about the extraordinary potential of nanotechnology (virus-size machines that can build, refine, cure, or destroy), Bova bids for more serious attention.

Short, fast-paced chapters alternate between dozens of characters on Earth and the Moon to paint a convincing portrait of the next century including the deaths of pivotal characters and the harsh demands of life on an airless orb.

A worthy sequel to Moonrise, Moonwar stands on its own. This good novel would seem even better except that Bova follows in the lunar footsteps of Robert Heinlein’s Hugo-winning masterpiece, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Inevitably, Bova’s similarly libertarian vision of a moon colony that declares its independence from Earth seems less original despite strong characters and fresh angles.

Still, the David and Goliath conflict is compelling, as the resourceful Moonbase settlers use their brains and the media to survive after their life-supporting nanotechnology is banned by United Nations bureaucrats who plan to invade the Moon.

Once again, Bova champions science, humanism, and the ability of free individuals to liberate Earth while liberate mankind from one planet.

This is a revised, edited version of part of Michael Grossberg’s New Vision column from The Dispatch.

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