The Moon wants to kill you.
Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.
As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.
Genre: Speculative/Science fiction
Publication: September 29 2015 by Gollancz/Hachette Australia
Source: ARC via Netgalley
There are so many diverse and compelling characters caught in this life or death web of political negotiations. Powerhouse families from different countries engage in negotiations in and outside of court as they establish and build themselves up on the moon. The law on the moon is quite different from Earth. Sometimes, a source of tension can lead to an actual knife fight/duel between families. In between this tense competition, I liked how the reader is pulled into vivid memories (or in some cases, lack of memories) of Earth and their roots as they consider the adopted world of the moon:
All the old songs his mother brought from green Brazil to the moon. The songs of his childhood, the songs of bays and hills and sunsets he has never seen and can never see. They were seeds of beauty, strong and sad, in the grey hell of the moon. Lucas Corta realised young that he lives in hell. The only way to transform hell, to even survive it, is to rule it.
There is also a fluid approach to sexuality and arranged political marriages on the moon that takes that element into account. Lucasinho’s polyamorous teen explorations reminded me of explorations in the tv show Caprica. (I seriously need to finish watching that show.) Lucasinho’s snapshots of POV also give a surreal glimpse of what contained life is like on the moon:
Far below, on Budarin Prospekt, tiny luminous spirals wind around each other: bikes at the finish line. The times don’t matter. The winner doesn’t matter. The race doesn’t even matter. That matters is the spectacle, the daring, the sense of transgression, that something wonderful has fallen out of the sky into safe, conventional lunar life.
The reader is also given a contrasting perspective on lunar life through Marina. Marina is one of Corta Helio’s hired bodyguards from Earth. There are so many inversions of Earth life on the moon. I liked how the moon’s dual beauty and economic opportunity is paired with its deadly landscape through Marina’s eyes. From her experiences, the reader gets a feel for how the poorer lunar people suffer by living closer to the radiation found on surface of the moon. The rich families are underground-based to avoid radiation, so I’ll stick to living on Earth. Lunar air has a price too:
Nothing tells you that you are not on earth any more than exhaling at one price and inhaling at another.
Adriana Corta as the matriarch of Corta Helio is a force to be reckoned with. I just loved her chapters. She built her powerhouse family from scratch on the moon. Each character’s lunar related motivations and dreams are either delved into or touched upon in Luna. I enjoyed the intensity of Adriana’s ambitions. I just found the whole concept and history of a competitive society on the moon to be brilliantly executed.
I also found the Australian powerhouse family of the Mackenzies to be amusing villains as an Australian reader. The last story I read which featured a few Australian characters was Houston, Houston Do You Read? by James Tiptree Jr. (They’re not the villains in this one. Also, recommended.)
On a side-note, it took me a little while to keep track of the large cast of characters at the beginning of Luna. (I’ve only previously attempted to do so when reading The Game of Throne books.) Though the POV shifts are distinct, so as the story rolled on, it became easy to pick out who was in conflict with who. Luna is just filled with fully rounded personalities. I became invested in Corto Helio’s family based plight because of the intense character drama. I can’t wait to for the sequel.
I also recommend checking out the Coode street podcast interview with the author for a good introduction to the novel + world-building insights.