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Hurricane Moon
Alexis Glynn Latner
Pyr, 397 pages

Hurricane Moon
Alexis Glynn Latner
Alexis Glynn Latner has a MA in Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. and now works at the Rice University Library in Houston, Texas and teaches creative writing through Rice University's School of Continuing Studies.

Alexis Glynn Latner Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

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In science fiction, one of the most difficult feats to accomplish is a simultaneous appeal to both the romance of the intellect and the romance of the heart. Hard SF writers are all used to invoking a sense of wonder that thrills the imagination, it's what that particular game is all about. Fewer are able to at the same time involve the reader's emotions in a story that evokes the character's personal emotional attractions. Of writers working today, Catherine Asaro is probably the most accomplished at this, many of her books are unabashedly based on her professional knowledge of physics, while at the same time fitting in many of the conventions and expectations involved in popular romance novels. It's very much to her credit, then, that Alexis Glynn Latner manages to pull this trick off in the very first chapter of her new novel, Hurricane Moon.

As Hurricane Moon opens, Catherine Gault, the chief physician of the Aeon, is dealing with last-minute details involved in the launching of Earth's first starship, a vessel intended to establish a new colony world for its passengers and crew. The first chapter takes us on a tour of the ship, with enough engineering and technology references to satisfy any hardcore SF reader. By the end of the chapter, Catherine finds herself faced with a new problem. She is asked to interview a last-minute addition to the crew, a molecular biologist named Joseph Devere who is every bit as brilliant as he is difficult to get along with. Catherine's problem is two-fold, she recognizes Devere's talent, but worries whether his personality will make him difficult to work with. At the same time, she realizes that she finds him extremely attractive.

Add to this the belief among many of the crew that the world they are leaving behind is on the brink of environmental and political collapse, and you have the basic impetus for the story-line of Hurricane Moon. When the Aeon arrives at its target destination only to discover that changing conditions are going to force the ship on another long voyage to an uncharted destination, the stakes become even higher, as those of the crew who have been revived from cold-sleep realize that they have no choice but to gamble with the lives of what may be the remainder of the human race.

Unfortunately, that's where Hurricane Moon fails to completely live up to its promise. The colonists finally arrive at a system that includes both a habitable planet and an evocative mystery involving a moon that is large enough to be considered a planet in its own right. The story, which depicts the colonist's struggle with their new environment, and Catherine's struggle to deal with her feelings for Joseph, is rife with the potential for conflict and a build-up of tension as the characters face the fact that they may be all that's left of humanity.

But that tension basically doesn't materialize. There are some conflicts among the characters, but they are almost all attributed to the effects of spending nearly a thousand years in hibernation and treated as medical issues, not as a reaction to an existential crisis. In much the same way, Catherine's relationship with Joseph plays itself out relatively calmly, with hardly any of the spark and sizzle you'd expect from a romance that starts out with a love/hate dilemma.

That's not to say Hurricane Moon is a bad book or not worth reading. It is in fact a nicely written novel, with well-drawn characters and a story that succeeds quite well in mixing a cosmic mystery with its characters personal lives. But with the future of the human race, and the heart of its main character hanging in the balance, readers who are looking for more in the way of intensity and conflict may find that being nice isn't quite good enough.

Copyright © 2007 by Greg L. Johnson

There were a couple of times while reading Hurricane Moon that reviewer Greg L Johnson wondered if he'd wandered into an Uncle River story by mistake. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction.


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