reviews.gif (7345 bytes)


Edited by Peter Crowther



312pp/$6.99/July 1999

Moon Shots
Cover by Chesley Bonestell

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Peter Crowther’s anthology Moon Shots was obviously designed and released to take advantage of the thirtieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk on the Moon. The cover copy on the book indicates that the stories will be about mankind’s desire and ability to travel to the Moon. The stories inside, however, do not always tackle that theme, instead many of the stories only seem to have a tangential link to the moon. The strongest stories, Stephen Baxter’s "People Who Came From Earth" and Brian Stableford’s "Ashes and Tombstones" do deal with the issue of getting to and living on the Moon.

Many of the stories deal with the idea that the Moon is a source of inspiration or romance. In "Visions of the Green Moon," Robert Sheckley’s lyricist-composer must write a song about the Moon which enters his dreams as a means of inspiring the title tune for his Broadway musical. Kathleen Massie-Ferch posits a wealthy woman who promised the Moon to her fiancée and looks at the people who make her promise a reality. Paul Di Filippo takes a light-hearted view of the Moon in "The Man Who Stole the Moon" in which he reminds the reader how important and powerful the Moon has been as a symbol to our ancestors, and how overlooked it is now in a world which is light by halogen at night.

Perhaps the most poignant story in the anthology is Scott Edelman’s "The Last Man On the Moon," which shares its title with Eugene Cernan’s recent memoir of his experiences as the commander of Apollo 17. The Edelman story replaces Cernan with Alexander Reece, who was not only the last man to step on the lunar surface, but is also the last surviving Moonwalker. Reece is spending his final years working as a consultant for a company which is developing a virtual reality simulation of Neil Armstrong’s visit to the Moon. The story shows the constant struggle between the VR designers for the romance of the Moon and Reece for an historically accurate reconstruction as a way of returning him to the high point of his life.

Surprisingly, none of the authors have chosen to speculate on where the manned space program would be if Apollos 18-20 and flown to the Moon and the Russians seem to be entirely out of the picture. This isn’t to say that history isn’t examined. Ian McDonald looks at a steampunk trip to the Moon in "Breakfast on the Moon, With Georges," which works better if the reader is aware that Georges Melies directed the science fiction film Le voyage dans la lune in 1902 and portrayed Professor Barbenfouillis in the movie. Aside from portraying a particularly nineteenth-century view of the Moon, the story does not really look into the ramifications of such a flight.

There are a few authors whose absence from the anthology is notable. A story set in Allen Steele’s near future would fit in, as would a short story about Ben Bova’s Moonbase or Sam Gunn. Although this is an anthology of new material, Crowther could easily have been forgiven for including a reprint of Robert A. Heinlein’s "The Man Who Sold the Moon" or "Requiem." Jerry Oltion’s Nebula-Award winning "Abandon in Place" would also be a fitting addition to this anthology.

Moon Shots is not the anthology I was expecting it to be. Nevertheless, many of the stories are well worth reading and all would stand on their own without the benefit of the anthology’s thematic structure. Some of the stories, such as Jerry Oltion’s "The Moon Tree" or "Carry the Moon in My Pocket" by James Lovegrove may manage to make the awards nomination lists next year.

Author Story
Brian W. Aldiss An Apollo Asteroid
Gene Wolfe Has Anybody Seen Junie Moon?
Brian Stableford Ashes and Tombstones
Colin Greenland The Way to Norwich
Eric Brown Steps Along the Way
Jerry Oltion The Moon Tree
Scott Edelman The Last Man on the Moon
James Lovegrove Carry the Moon in My Pocket
Kathleen Massie-Ferch Moon Hunters
Alan Dean Foster The Little Bits That Count
Stephen Baxter People Came From Earth
Robert Sheckley Visions of the Green Moon
Paul J. McAuley How We Lost the Moon, A True Story by Frank W. Allen
Paul Di Filippo The Man Who Stole the Moon
Michelle West Elegy
Ian McDonald Breakfast on the Moon, With Georges

Purchase this book from Amazon Books.

Return to

Thanks to
SF Site
for webspace.