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A Fall of Moondust (S.F. Masterworks) Paperback – March 14, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


'Marvellously convincing' -- Times Literary Supplement

'The best book yet about man's most dramatic journey, the most exciting science fiction novel for years' -- Evening Standard --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

A brilliantly imagined story of human ingenuity and survival, A Fall of Moondust is a tour-de-force of psychological suspense and sustained dramatic tension. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: S.F. Masterworks
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (March 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575073179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575073173
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on August 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Long before Arthur Hailey (Airport) or The Poseidon Adventure, there was this book. In some ways this may be the ultimate `disaster' book of science fiction, done with impeccable attention to science, and a very plausible (at the time it was written) setting.

The Selene is a rather unique ship, built to travel on surface of a lake composed of nothing but dust, the end result of billions of years of slow erosion of the Lunar surface by continuous heating/cooling and the impact of meteorites. When this book was written (1961), this was a very plausible hypothesis, and is still not completely out of the question for isolated areas of the moon that we haven't explored yet. Due to a rare large moon-quake, the ship, and all its passengers, is suddenly buried some 50 feet below the surface, totally cut off from the world.

The story revolves around what four separate people do about this situation: Harris, Selene's captain; Lawrence, the engineer in charge of the rescue effort, Lawson, an introverted astro-physicist who reaches the limelight due to his involvement in initially finding the crash site, and a reporter tracking the greatest rescue attempt ever.

For Harris, and the other twenty people trapped in the ship, we see not only a reasoned response to the disaster, but a calmness and degree of civility between the people that might seem, at first glance, to be unrealistic. But when you look at the actual response of many people in similar disaster scenarios (think the Titanic), what is portrayed here is actually quite probable. The character sketches of the passengers cover a pretty wide range of personality types and professions, and add strong elements of believability and relevance to the story.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an astounding book from the greatest Science Fiction writer of all time. Reading large scale "space operas", one would expect that the action in this novel is not as gripping since it revolves around a very confined area. Most SciFi writers are able to convey a story, but fall through on their deficiency in technology. Sir Arthur C. Clarke never misses a step when he describes the extremely thrilling story, and so skilfully describes the surrounding technologies and landscapes. What absolutely unbelievable is that this book was written even before the lunar landings in 1961, but all his observations of the moon, the computer technology, descriptions of plasma drives still holds to this day. This novel was one of his most successful, and Clarke has since been humoristically called the "prophet" since the manned and un-manned space flights seem to confirm his observations of space and our nearby planets. He never quantizes technologies, but describe how the story actually revolves in the future technology environment. Where Gibson in "Neuromancer" wrote about the main character "..stole 4Mb of hot ram..." one immediately sets the story to the 90'ties when 4 Mb of Ram was significant memory, even if it was supposed to be in the far future. Clarke never makes such mistakes, making this novel, written in 1960, as relevant today as it was then. In "A Fall of Moondust". Add to this the uncanny ability to explain the action so well it is almost as watching a movie whilst reading the story, this is one book that is highly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Christenson / Lunamation on March 24, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A Fall Of Moondust, by the late Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End, Dolphin Island) is really a suspense disaster story that takes place on the moon, science fictional in the setting and the author's speculation, clever at the time, that deep dust in the low-gravity craters would be similar to liquid water on Earth. And so the premise is that a "boat," carrying passengers across a crater on the moon, sinks in the dust. Rescue operations are oviously trickier than on Earth, communication through the dust seemingly impossible. Suspense mounts as engineers devise means to locate the boat, communicate with it, provide air, and commence rescue operations all while the passengers await their fate. One of my favorite sf novels due to the effective blend of suspense, the clever sci-fi idea, and Clarke's scientific accuracy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Judas Priest on October 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is one of Clarke's better novels. The scope is smaller than his usual work, and the plot feels a bit like a catastrophe movie, but it's very well executed.

A sightseeing shuttle is trapped below 15 meters of dust while travelling on one of the Moon's craters. The rest of mankind are working out a way to dig them up again, while they're slowly running out of calm and oxygen...

The scientific details of the accident, its subsequent terrors, and the rescue operation, are as always authoritative and clearly explained. Very believable.

Characterization was never Clarke's strongest point, and it's a bit cheap here too. Usually, it's not that important in hard SF, but here I feel it would be in order. The trapped people could have been fleshed out to make us care for them more. I came to associate their names with their professions rather than with their personalities. There are some really awkward "romantic" moments between the captain of the shuttle and the stewardess, and the humour attempts are downright cringeworthy. Clarke has the characters "bursting with laughter" over a couple of jokes that are simply embarrassing to read.

Also among the trapped is a "legendary explorer" (more or less presented as the greatest hero of the space age) who always knows what to do, and of course a brilliant physicist with the sole purpose of telling us what troubles he foresees. Including those two in the story I consider outright cheating on Clarke's part.

Of the outside characters, we are constantly told (as opposed to SHOWN) that Dr.
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