It’s pretty much a granted that every science fiction and fantasy fan is only biding their time until moon colonies are a reality. We all secretly hope that permanent off-Earth habitation, open to the few brave souls ready to tame the unknown, will happen in our lifetimes. The technology is ready. In fact, the only thing missing is the political will to conquer our lunar remora. Sometimes you just want the feature to hurry up and get here, you know? The moon has a long and rich history in the science fiction cannon. Whether it’s as a setting, a scientific clue to the universe, or the launching pad for points unknown, the moon has cast a long shadow, matched only by Mars, as an object of fascination for colonization in our solar system.
With that in mind, I thought I would make this column all about my top five books involving the moon. Everything from hard science terraforming to terrifying lunar disasters to the fantastical man on the moon. I think this will give you a nice moon fix, but let me know in the comments anything I missed.
The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
Though Wells is only half-right and half-wrong with the science he uses in his classic moon tale, I promise you this book is a lot better than the trashy pulp you might lumping it with. A group of scientists set off to explore the moon, only to discover it already has inhabitants—giant insect-like creatures who aren’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of sharing. While the story has some breath-taking action and adventure, the true appeal is Wells’ subtle satire of imperialism and exploitation.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Probably the greatest Moon story ever told, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is both an exploration of the true difficulties of making a habitable world on the moon, and also a rousing adventure of the political dissidents that try to free the moon from the tyranical oppression of Earth’s governments. Full of the complex characters and deft plotting that made Heinlein a legend.
Moonrise by Ben Bova
Bova has a made a career of using hard science ideas to explore our solar system. However, his books are anything but dry. Moonrise is a murder mystery buried in a tense political drama over the privitization of moon colonization. Intricately-plotted and dramatic, Moonrise is a perfect entry into Bova’s rich and detailed universe.
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
After a meteor collides with the moon it sets off a series of catastrophic events as the Earth is slowly ripped apart. The story is told from the point of view of a teenage girl named Miranda as she struggles to accept the end of the world in slow motion. It’s the vivid characterization and sense of dread permeating Life As We Knew It that makes it a modern classic of the genre. The first in a trilogy, with twists big and small, Life As We Knew It should please just about any type of reader.
Duplicate Effort by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The latest in Rusch’s excellent Retrieval Artist series about private detectives based on moon colonies who take on the dangerous jobs the cops won’t touch. Humans co-exist, not always peaceably, with bizarre alien species and often despicable humans. Rusch’s writing is hard-boiled detective fiction at its best, but set on a moon colony. A great mixture of suspense, science fiction and mystery, with characters that live on the wrong side of the track, but are always striving to be on the side of the angels.