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The Moon and the Sun Hardcover – September 1, 1997

53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In this rich and engrossing tale, Vonda N. McIntyre proves once again that her plotting and mastery of language are among the best in the business. The Moon and the Sun, which won the 1997 Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is the story of Marie-Josèphe, a young lady in the court of Louis XIV. When her brother Yves returns from a naturalist voyage with two sea monsters (one live, one dead), Marie-Josèphe is caught up in a battle of wills involving the fate of the living creature. The king intends to test whether the sea monster holds the secrets of immortality, but Marie-Josèphe knows the creature to be an intelligent, lonely being who yearns only to be set free. In a monumental test of the limits of patience and love, Marie-Josèphe defies the will of the king, her brother, and the pope in defense of what she knows is right, at any cost. McIntyre's atmospheric prose envelops the reader in a fully realized world--sights, smells, and sounds are described in great detail. The author completely represents the Sun King's court at Versailles--her research for the book must have been quite extensive. The blend of history, science, and fantasy makes for a book you will want to gulp down. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A successful sf writer takes a stab at alternate history in this Gothic tale featuring a captured sea monster in 17th-century France.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671567659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671567651
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #499,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Asaro on December 11, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Set in Versailles, France, in 1693, this book tells the story of a Marie-Josephe, a lady-in-waiting to the niece of Louis XIV--the Sun King. Marie-Josephe's brother, Father Yves de la Croix, is a Jesuit and also the King's natural philosopher. He has brought the King a sea woman captured on an ocean voyage. So begins a rich tale of conscience, politics, science, history, and love.

The Moon and the Sun combines two demanding genres, with some remarkable twists. It is a science fiction story of first contact with an alien race, but told in a setting more often associated with fantasy. It is also a romantic historical novel, the type of meticulously researched work that brings another era to life. McIntyre infuses it all with her marvelously unique style.

As a scientist, I found the interplay of science and the historical setting fascinating. Few sf novels take place in our past, unless they involve time travel. What McIntyre has done is in some ways more difficult: she accurately represents the state of science in the past, without insights from the future. The depiction of the investigations carried out by Yves and Marie-Josephe are authentic. With the sea woman, McIntyre evokes another classic science fiction theme--how do we create convincingly different alien life? The Moon and the Sun also portrays well how politics and the church affected scientific endeavor in that era.

Science fiction is replete with the idea of the polymath--a protagonist talented in many disciplines. This isn't coincidence; in real life, artistic and linguistic gifts often pair with scientific or mathematical talent. The math-physics-music constellation is perhaps the best known combination. McIntyre gets the personality down well for Marie-Josephe.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on June 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Moon and the Sun" (1997) is an excellent fantasy novel by US science fiction author Vonda McIntyre. The novel is not a standard fantasy, but rather an alternate history novel with fantasy elements. It won a number of awards, including the 1997 Nebula Award for Best Novel (beating the favorite "A Game of Thrones" by George R. R. Martin).
The story is set in 17th century France, during the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV, at his court in Versailles. The novel is filled with a large cast of courtiers, many of them historical figures, who are all competing for the favor of the King. The main character, Marie-Josephe de la Croix, assists her brother, Father Yves de la Croix, in the scientific study of a recently captured sea monster. The King hopes to gain immortality by consuming part of the creature, but as the study continues, Marie-Josephe discovers the sea monster may be more than a dumb beast. This discovery tests Marie-Josephe's loyalty to her brother, her king and her religion.
Vonda McIntyre thoroughly researched the historical setting for "The Moon and the Sun" and created a very convincing setting, filling it with believable and well-rounded characters. Because of the level of detail, the novel can be enjoyed as a historical novel and a fantasy. Very highly recommended.
Note: the novel originated as a short story, written in the form of a fictional encyclopedia article, "The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea", which was illustrated by (fellow author) Ursula K. Le Guin and indirectly inspired by research done by the late Avram Davidson, another brilliant SF writer. The novel also exists as a screenplay.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on November 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For some reason I had my doubts about this book before I even read it . . . don't ask my why, call it a faulty gut. At first glance it seemed to be a typical "lowly person fights the unyielding establishment and their unceasing ignorance" except set in France. Fortunately the novel completely transcends any cliche and will probably stand as one of the definitive SF historical novels (how's that for a sub-genre?) for quite a while as it's hard to imagine something surpassing this work. Plotwise it's fairly straightforward, the court of the Sun King as seen through the eyes of a girl, Marie-Josephe, whose brother goes on a mission for the king to discover the secret of immortality through some sea monsters, one of which he brings back alive. From there the reader discovers along with Marie-Josephe that the sea monster is more human than anybody realizes at first and she goes to do something about that. The novel benefits from two things, the strength of its characters (Marie-Josephe is one of the most well rounded characters in years, smart and sensitive, courageous and vulnerable . . . but most of the cast gives her a run for her money) and McIntyre's total recreation of the French court and the people who populated it. Every ceremony, every gesture, every sight and sound brings you back to the time . . . singlehandedly through her prose she makes the scenes come alive and pulls you into a world that thrives on ceremony and ritual . . . the amount of research that must have gone into this must have been staggering but the end result is well worth it for the reader. You see both the glorious and the seamy, the honor and the squalidness of the behavior of the members of the court . . .Read more ›
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