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Moon Flights
Elizabeth Moon
Night Shade Books, 276 pages

Moon Flights
Elizabeth Moon
Elizabeth Moon grew up in south Texas, 250 miles south of San Antonio and eight miles from the Mexican border. She attended Rice University and joined the US Marines in 1968. With a second degree in biology, she entertained thoughts about going to med school after her husband, but circumstances intervened.

Elizabeth Moon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Command Decision
SF Site Review: Command Decision
SF Site Review: Engaging the Enemy
SF Site Review: Marque and Reprisal
SF Site Review: Trading in Danger
SF Site Review: Speed of Dark
SF Site Review: Once A Hero
SF Site Review: Rules of Engagement
SF Site Review: Remnant Population

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

Ah, the ways our memories fail us. I picked up Moon Flights, the first collection of stories from Elizabeth Moon thinking "Great, here's a chance to find out about a writer whom I've heard much about but never read before." Checking the table of contents, it quickly became apparent that I was wrong about that, "Judgement," a story about a young man's adventure with a dragon's egg, had previously appeared in The Dragon Quintet, edited by Marvin Kaye, and was sitting right there on my bookshelf. I certainly remembered the story, it was a well-written twist on the old theme of growing up and finding your place in the world, but the name of the author had somehow disappeared from my mind.

And, in some ways, that's the way it should be. It's the story, and how it's written, that makes a writer's reputation, and which in the end brings you back for more. If you remember the story, eventually the connection will be made and the name of the author herself will be what triggers your interest in a new book or story. The only difference for me was that Moon Flights thus changed from an introduction to a rediscovery of a writer who has firmly established herself as a first-rate teller of tales ranging from humorous looks at life in medieval times to future military adventures, and even a side-trip or two into just what makes an artist create, and how that creative process fits into a society that doesn't always appreciate what's presented to it.

Because of novels like Rules of Engagement and Marque and Reprisal, Elizabeth Moon is probably best known as a writer of military science fiction, and Moon Flights contains several examples of this aspect of her writing. In "Politics," a veteran of many battles is confronted one more time with the fact that survival in combat often requires making the right choice at the right time, and then keeping your mouth shut about it. "Tradition" takes us inside the head of Rear Admiral Sir Christopher George Francis Maurice Cradock who is forced to decide what requires the greater amount of courage, following your own expertise even if it means eventual disapproval from superior authority, or bowing to that authority and risking losing the battle.

Judging from two of the stories, "New World Symphony" and "Hand To Hand," Elizabeth Moon either knows or is related to musicians. In each case, a musician is confronted with a situation in which his or her own creative instincts conflict with established authority, and in each case the musician seeks to challenge that authority, with differing results and degrees of success.

The stories in Moon Flights are not all serious, however. There are several examples of good humor here, from the trailer park SF of "If Nudity Offends You" to the travails of the organizer of a asteroid colony's community celebration in "Welcome To Wheel Days." The most memorable of these humorous stories are undoubtedly those that deal with the Ladies' Aid & Armor Society, medieval fantasies in which the ladies are confronted with such problems as resisting the King's proposed tax on brass brassieres, rescuing a villager from a dragon, and saving the annual ball from being ruined by a group of infiltrating pirates.

In many SF and fantasy writer's first collections, you find the writer at their most experimental, looking to push the envelope in order to make their own mark and establish a reputation. Moon Flights, in contrast, reveals a writer very willing to work within the established order of things, whether that means military adventure, medieval fantasy, or life in space on the new frontier. What does come through is that, even in the confines of very traditional story-forms, Elizabeth Moon is a writer who always has a point to make, and who is able to make her points with dramatic action, slyly humorous observations, and a sense of style.

Copyright © 2008 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L Johnson is forced to admit to siding with Elizabeth Moon's musician characters in their attempts to thwart authority. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.

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