4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Bouncing Off the Moon (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a direct sequel to Jumping off the Planet, and reading the earlier book is required to have any kind of understanding of this book.
Once more we are treated to Gerrold's version of a Heinlein juvenile, and this one owes some direct debts to a couple of Heinlein's works. Picking up immediately after the end of Jumping off the Planet, we find the dysfunctional Dingillian brothers starting on their trip to the moon, somewhat less mixed up than they were, but still on the run from certain shadowy persona who are extremely interested in the toy monkey they carry. They are taken under the wing of Alexei, a Russian-Loonie money launderer, who proceeds to get the brothers to the moon by most unconventional means, and travel beyond their arrival there via overland foot-trek.
Alexei could be a character taken directly from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, complete with a rather tortured syntax in his English speech patterns, but he is a rather interesting character, far better than most secondary characters. Some of the details of the brothers' forced march across the lunar landscape are a clearly updated version of a similar trek in Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Gerrold does provide some rather fascinating updates to the technology that Heinlein used, most especially his 'portable' airlock. Most of the details Gerrold describes about the Lunar society belong in the same milieu as Mistress, but he does provide some possibly better economic justifications for why the society is the way it is. He makes clear that the Lunar culture is one built on scarcity, reusing everything to the greatest degree possible, perhaps explaining why this society does not seem nearly as rich and diversified as Heinlein's.
Plot-wise, this book is a continuing series of jumping from frying pan to fire to blast furnace. This makes for some fast page-turning adventuresome reading, though occasionally the descriptions of the technology slow down the pace. And there are some serious moral questions being posed underneath the action, questions that can be only partially answered by the protagonist middle brother. Charles' emotional and moral development is really the prime focus of this book, but he seems to make little progress in this book until near the very end. This is the major problem with this book, as Charles and his internal troubles did not do a very good job of engaging my interest, although this aspect was better done in this book than in the earlier Jumping Off the Planet.
A pretty good adventure, a nice update of some older Heinlein works, but not top-flight, though this book is better than its predecessor.