Posted by : atcampbell | On : June 15, 1999

Moonfall by Jack McDevitt

The discussion of Moonfall drew eight participants. This is a near-future SF disaster novel where scientists discover a comet on a collision course with Earth’s moon. Earth’s leaders have a little over a week to figure out how to save the people of the heavily populated moonbase and in an orbiting space station. Then the Earth needs to be saved from the effects of the tidal changes and large debris that result from the collision.

We found this to be a well-written, fast paced thriller. McDevitt established tension and suspense well, and he used the time deadline effectively. The characters were well drawn and interesting. We particularly liked the US Vice President, who is visiting the moon when the trouble starts and thus finds himself in the middle of all the action. We liked how McDevitt portrayed realistic powerful executives and politicians, as well as some of the regular earthbound folks dealing with the catastrophe. The book promotes a strong pro-space message, and we all found that agreeable.

There were only a few minor problems. Since this book came out about the same time as two “big rock hits Earth” movies, the story seemed less special than it might have at another time. Some people also wished that this book featured more extrapolation in its future society. We were amused that despite all the problems that befall Earth in this book, Georgia (McDevitt’ s home state) comes through with no damage.

Overall we found this to be one of the most exciting and satisfying books we’d read in a while. Some people liked it so much that they’d already read it twice. This was the fourth McDevitt novel we’d discussed in the Reading Group, making him our most-discussed author.

— A. T. Campbell, III