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Gunpowder Moon Paperback – February 13, 2018
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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“Could easily be the prequel to The Expanse, where natural resources off-world become the target of competing powers and one man is left in the middle to avoid catastrophe—a truly interesting read!” (New York Times bestselling author Bob Mayer)
“In Gunpowder Moon, David Pedreira has crafted an excellent near-future thriller. This one’s got it all—realistic technology, an all-too-believable political conflict, and characters to care about—in a fast-paced story set amid the moon’s austere beauty.” (Linda Nagata, author of the Nebula-nominated The Red: First Light)
“An excellent sci-fi thriller...The tension is especially strong in the novel’s last pages, leading to a conclusion that manages to be simultaneously cynical and hopeful. This is an exciting story with an unexpected depth—a solid winner.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Pedreira manages an impressive feat in his debut novel....bringing the all-too-familiar economic corruption and personal ruthlessness of capitalist exploitation to this foreign territory, and these subtle inflections elevate an already entertaining sci-fi mystery into a thought-provoking, unsettling work that will keep readers engaged.” (RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars))
“While the setting is entertaining, it does not eclipse the true nature of Pedreira’s debut: an intriguing murder mystery with a great lead that just happens to take place on the moon.” (Booklist)
“Memorable visuals and well-executed action sequences mark this exciting foray into near-future hard sci-fi, which is at its best when framing the poignancy of the desire for peace.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Gripping and propulsive, this tightly plotted story of regular folks trying to do the right thing on the surface of the moon is one of my favorite SF novels of the last several months.” (Omnivoracious)
“[Pedreira] makes an auspicious debut...He deftly handles one challenge of the genre: balancing the wealth of technical detail needed to build a future world with the engaging characters and headlong action needed for a compelling thriller. Gunpowder Moon is a satisfying blastoff.” (Tampa Tribune)
“This debut novel does an excellent job of merging science fiction, mystery, and thriller genres into an engrossing page turner...Readers of hard science fiction, military science fiction, or just a good mystery will really enjoy this book.” (New York Journal of Books)
From the Back Cover
The Moon smells like gunpowder
Every lunar walker since Apollo 11 has noticed it: a burnt-metal scent that reminds them of war. Caden Dechert, chief of U.S. mining operations on the edge of the Sea of Serenity, thinks the smell is just a trick of the mind—a flashback to his harrowing days as a marine in the war-torn Middle East back on Earth.
It’s 2072, and lunar helium-3 mining is powering the fusion reactors bringing Earth back from environmental disaster. But competing for the richest prize in the history of the world has destroyed the oldest rule in space: safety for all. When a bomb kills one of Dechert’s diggers on Mare Serenitatis, the haunted veteran goes on the hunt to expose the culprit before more blood is spilled.
As he races to solve the first murder in the history of the Moon, Dechert gets caught in the crosshairs of two global powers spoiling for a fight. Reluctant to be the match that lights this powder keg, Dechert knows his life and those of his crew are meaningless to the politicians. Even worse, he knows the killer is still out there, hunting.
In his desperate attempts to prevent the catastrophe he sees coming, Dechert uncovers a conspiracy that, with one spark, can ignite a full lunar war, wipe out his team . . . and perhaps plunge Earth back into darkness.
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A fusion reaction of 2 Helium3 atoms results in a single stable Helium4 atom (2 protons, 2 neutrons) plus two free protons (hydrogen). No free neutrons. All other known feasible fusion reactions produce free neutrons, which are the bane of reactors because they combine with other atoms in the reactor, such as the containment walls, weakening them and making them radioactive, thus reducing the life of the reactor and requiring a great deal of shielding. Now, was that so hard? It is if you're just a reporter. His one chance to enlighten his readers is blown.
I should also mention that the author swallowed a huge amount of "global warming" cool-aid and contends in the plot
that this GW is killing all life on earth. Just silly, unless of course you have a journalism degree.
Gunpowder is more of a thriller than a mystery, but it isn’t entirely effective as the former. The plot never reaches inside you and squeezes an organ or two like the best thrillers do. At least not until the end, when things truly teeter on the brink of lunar war. The best parts were the science fiction aspects. Especially when things start heating up at the end and Pedreira throws a lot of cool military SF at us—bullet-size smart rockets and smart antimissile arrays and shoulder-fired micro-EMPs. Pedreira does a great job sketching out a future on the Moon, and really hammers in just how dangerous operating on the Moon will be.
The characterization is a bit of a mixed bag. Pedreira does a really good job with the characters who get his attention, but too few do. Pedreira sketches a plausible future where the United States and China are engaged in a new space race—this time to mine the Moon. The United States was left on the level of China by the Thermal Max. “Two trillion tons of methane hydrate had bubbled out of the Pacific Rim with almost no warning in the North American spring of 2058, enveloping the planet in a Venusian shroud.” That environmental catastrophe—and the human fallout—left three billion dead.
Gunpowder Moon is a fine example of the sort of near-ish future hard science fiction I’ve been digging lately, whether it is The Dark Side or The Martian.
Pedreira has the annoying habit of occasionally switching between referring to characters by their last names and referring to them by their first names, much to my confusion.
Disclosure: Harper Voyager sent me a(n unsolicited) review copy of Gunpowder Moon.
In a tense and gritty thriller, Gunpowder Moon follows a site of U.S. mining operations, an ex-marine now chief mining director, and the techs running the operation as a murder of one of their own threatens to destroy everything.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from Edelweiss and Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.