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Wholesome scifi for anyone September 17, 2012
If while reading this novel you think to yourself, “I believe this author knows a thing or two about the mining industry”, you’d be right. He also knows a thing or two about the moon, having been a NASA engineer responsible for training astronauts for various missions. He’s Homer Hickam, author of "Rocket Boys", known for inspiring the film "October Sky".
"Crater" could be succinctly described as a ‘space western’. Adventures galore are experienced by the young, orphaned protagonist, Crater Trueblood, and his friends Petro and Maria. He also has a sweet little slime-mold thing called a ‘gillie’ – an intelligent creature serving Crater much like a sentient iPad.
By the way, gillies are illegal.
This novel could easily find its way into the YA section of the bookstore or library- not that it isn’t aimed at or enjoyable for adults, but because the many of the main characters are young, the story is fairly straightforward, and objectionable elements are minimal. No graphic violence, no harsh language (at least none in Earthspeak), and Crater’s crush is of the sweet and naive kind. Evolutionary theory is taken for granted, but the author gives Crater a strong moral compass to guide him.
I thought of Crater as a bit of a Dudley Doright, which apparently makes him perfect for a special mission to retrieve a mysterious and valuable artifact. In addition, he has lived on the moon his entire life, and those in authority have noticed that he has an instinct for machinery and figuring out the way things work- except for people.
Although he has trouble understanding complex emotions, he has a deep sense of justice and compassion, which he displays many times throughout the story as he struggles to complete the dangerous task to which he has been assigned. His sense of honor compels him to continue when others would have given up.
The real science behind the use of Helium-3 gives this story a sense of authenticity, and the ‘slang’ terms that are used for Moon inhabitants, their culture, and their tools is self-explanatory (plaston cups, biovats, driving fastbugs, etc..). While most characters are not deeply complex, they are likable enough, and the adventure is fast-paced.
The most interesting aspect of this book for me was the realistically drawn picture of mankind exploring, colonizing, and monetizing the resources of the moon. Obviously this comes from the author’s expertise in engineering and his knowledge of the moon, as well as his experiences in mining country.
There are Reading Guide questions in the back of the book, making this a good book club selection, or as a choice on a junior high or high school reading list.
This book is the first of the Helium-3 trilogy, with book 2 coming out in 2013.
For this review I read the book on Kindle (for PC), and although some line breaks made the dialogue confusing in places, it was comfortable to read.
BookSneeze® provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Review by Susan Raber
A MINING COLONY ON THE MOON. A DEADLY MISSION. AND A SECRET BIGGER THAN TWO WORLDS.
It’s the 22nd Century. A tough, pioneering people mine the moon for Helium-3 to produce energy for a desperate, war-torn Earth.
Sixteen-year-old Crater Trueblood loves his job as a Helium-3 miner. But when he saves a fellow miner, his life changes forever. Impressed by his heroism, the owner of the mine orders Crater to undertake a dangerous mission. Crater doubts himself, but has no choice. He must go.
With the help of Maria, the mine owner’s frustrating but gorgeous granddaughter, and his gillie—a sentient and sometimes insubordinate clump of slime mold cells—Crater must fight both human and subhuman enemies. He’ll battle his way across a thousand miles of deadly lunar terrain and face genetically altered super warriors in his quest to recover an astonishing object that will alter the lives of everyone on the moon.
“Long-haul trucking on the Moon . . . with raiders, romance and a secret mission . . . High adventure on the space frontier.” —Kirkus Reviews
|Series||A Helium-3 Novel|
|Publication Date||April 10, 2012|