Starting veeery slow the story took not off, for me at least, until the last third of the book. That is a bit beyond my normal patience, but I usually end up liking McDonald’s stories. And so I persevered.
In a not too distant future human society on Earth has partly caved in as robotization has thrown the middle classes into poverty. Those who dare or those who are desperate enough seek their luck on the new frontier – the Moon, and its promise of wealth, or at least a fast death if bad luck strikes. Up there corporations the like of robber barons with dynastic pretentions rule absolutely, and everything has a price on it, and McDonald writes it like a mash between the fall of the Soviet Union and the grimmest of medieval times: the only currency is money, and without it you’ll have no air to breath. Your oxygen quota is directly linked to your bank account.
In this environment we follow one of the big Dragons, ie one of the big corporations that dominates lunar life, down a path of feuding and serial revenge that goes beyond family interests and into economic dominance and hunt for monopoly.
As already stated getting into the story took some, and it wasn’t until the very last 50 or so pages that I decided that I’m not only going to finish this book – I am also going to get the next one in the series a try.
This might not look like a flying endorsement, and it isn’t. To get into the book one needs to learn about a lot about the different families that rule the Moon; take in lots of borrowed and adapted language that includes loans from Ghana, Korea, China, and Brasil; understand power structures and social customs; and a few more things. This is hard work, initially. I do think that it pays off, eventually, though. But I understand if this is not everyone’s cup of tea, and I would not recommend Luna: New Moon as a first taste of science fiction, or even as a first taste of Ian McDonald – to me, River of Gods is still the best book of his that I’ve read.