I really, really wanted to like “Moonwar.”
Near- future science fiction by a guy who knows his science, writing a tale of a Moonbase embroiled in political battles and a takeover threat by Earthers who fear the nanotechnology used at the lunar site? Espionage? Battles? I figured it would have to be good.
I gave up on page 281, about midpoint. What started it downhill it for me was Bova’s portrayal of journalism and interpersonal communications. The book was published in 1998, but it seems to not have taken the Internet into account. The Moonbase declares independence from Earth, and the U.N. sends a military team to take over the base, and there is no media outlet on Earth willing to report the damned story, because they are all in lockstep with the U.N. Secretary General? Really? And the Moonbase folks have trouble getting this story out to the public, even though people on the moon are able to conduct interpersonal communications with people on Earth? And that story didn’t spread online like a bad itch and get the world’s attention? Really?
Even though a global media network had a reporter embedded with the military force ( and by embedded, I mean the reporter slept with the Secretary General to get herself on the flight … ), that global media network sat on the reports she sent back to Earth? Really? I am a career journalist. No publisher is going to pay the insurance bill to send a media darling to the fricking moon and then decide not to publish her reports. Really.
In the reporter’s defense, she slept with the leader of the Moonbase, too, so there was at least a nod toward the notion of journalistic balance …
I tried to ignore all that and just concentrate on the cool nanotechnology and the challenge of defending a weaponless Moonbase from a vastly superior force. I really did. And then one of the plotters slept with a woman — a woman with known, well publicized and deep connections to the fricking Moonbase — and in a state of post-coital bliss reveals to her the existence of a hush-hush force of soldiers being quietly assembled at a Japanese moon base. And so, of course, she goes and blabs this to her buddy at Moonbase.
I tried to convince myself the guy was just feeding false information to the woman, in an effort to disrupt whatever defense Moonbase was cooking up. But then I remembered how ineptly Bova was handling journalism and communications in the story, and decided not to read any further. Maybe, just maybe, Bova handles espionage better than he handles journalism — but I decided it was not worth my time to find out.
Bova knows his hard science, but in this novel, he does not seem to understand how people work.