- File Size: 592 KB
- Print Length: 198 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Carne (February 17, 2013)
- Publication Date: February 17, 2013
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00BH35D3S
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,845 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews
There are hidden reasons for everything that happens as Hilary heads for his first year of college. Enough twists to keep you thinking "what's next?" and enough reasonable explanations to keep it in the realm of science fiction.
And on his school breaks, Hilary returns to Philadelphia.
Between the plausibility of college on the moon and the reality of Philadelphia, the author has pulled together a story of fears and expectations along side a view of growing up. Whether you are in your last year of high school or sending your own kids to college, some of this should be recognizable as part of life's changes. Toss in a little space dream and it's a recommended book for those venturing into science fiction.
I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for the next in the series.
Freshman Year - First Semester:
Moon College is the tale of a boy named Hilary. An angst-ridden, possibly unstable recent high school graduate who embarks on a journey off to college, on the moon.
Although a font of information, Hilary's unfocused, directionless, and easily distracted. Yet, while wandering the campus village and considering his classes, as well as the morass of his life, he spots an intriguing, mysterious girl with purple eyes who seems to enjoy a vaunted status amongst the alumni and the staff.
In discussing the encounter with Magnus, a new acquaintance met in orientation, Magnus explains that her name is Camille, that she's his god-sister, and that he 'attends' her. Magnus also warns Hilary that she has a violently jealous boyfriend who's developed a reputation for dealing with amorous rivals.
Failing to heed the advice, Hilary goes to Camille's apartment. There, he meets her roommate Vivian, who states Camille's out with her boyfriend, but invites him in, ever-amused with the affect Camille has on boys. Camille returns home, and is shocked by the uninvited guest. She reiterates the warning offered by Magnus, and, in a detached and analytical fashion, quickly contrives an excuse should her boyfriend ever find out, while insisting Hilary go and never come back.
The next morning, Hilary's abruptly awakened by a set of hands at his throat, a brutish man rudely atop him screaming, “Camille is mine”. Hilary recognizes the lunatic as his own estranged cousin, Vladimir. Vladimir assures Hilary, in spite of their kinship, he will not tolerate anyone laying a hand on Camille.
Assurances made, the cousins go to McDonald's, to converse and catch-up, but must disable the security cameras with a laser-pointer in order to smoke. In a call to Camille, Vladimir learns that Magnus had concocted the encounter, by giving Hilary her address, as well as having given Vladimir a card-key to Hilary's room. Later, Magnus explains to Hilary that his intention was to manipulate the dynamic surrounding Camille, so that it's not only useful to her but good for her, as part of his 'blood oath' to protect and serve her.
Hilary sits-in on Social Studies class, in which, gamer philosophy is discussed as part of a social-interactive computer simulation (SIM) the students are required to produce. Camille bursts into the hall and interrupts the lecture. Professor Lee accommodates the urgent need to speak with him, and, in the discreet exchange, Camille passes the professor a note.
Hilary meets with Vladimir, who's off to collect a debt. The cousins first stop at a largely unoccupied residence on campus. Vladimir explains that Magnus lives there, yet, unbeknownst to him, he has a card-key which allows him access to an entirely uninhabited floor. There, Vladimir reveals his elaborate marijuana-growing operation, created with seeds smuggled from Earth. Vladimir explains that he's in need trusted of help with this expanding business which he's further parleyed into a financial institution, wherein, interest is charged and exacted by those kept perpetually indebted to him. But Hilary declines the offer to further this envisioned 'family enterprise'.
Hilary hears news that a fellow freshman, regretfully nick-named 'Fudge' by him in orientation, has suffered a nervous-breakdown and been taken to the hospital due to the stigma furthered by the taunting of others, leading to an attack on fellow freshman, Cassius, who Hilary had befriended, as an apparent revenge.
Hilary meets up with Camille, who'd inexplicably skipped a class seminar. The two walk and talk, as she simultaneously transcribes a class paper on the subject of an Ancient Indian ritual, involving fasting, as a means of achieving ritual purity, in anticipation of death. Hilary condoles with her the outlook of Lucretius, in his poem, “De rerum natura” about the fear of death and the consolation of non-existence. They then change the subject to thoughts of and progress on the role-play simulations they each must create.
Hilary, Vladimir, Camille, and Magnus go to the movies. Vladimir, alone, is enthralled with the nihilism and violence of the film, which was meant to be reflective and thought-provoking. A near-argument between Vlad and Magnus over the subject matter is averted by Camille's offer to show Hilary 'the eye'.
Hilary's awakened from a dream by a knock on his door. It's Camille. She joins him in bed. Later, he awakens again, this time, alone, where he unable to shake the guilt or the prospect he's now become a marked man.
Hilary avoids the group for days. Yet, in his next chance meeting with Vladimir, his only concern is Camille's preoccupation with her school-work, an irritation piqued by Hilary's own absence and anxiousness. Hilary then seeks out reassurance from Cassius, to whom he confesses all the complications of the largely-innocent events.
Hilary meets Vladimir for lunch, and probes him, toying with the notion circumstances may, at some point, come down to a physical rematch between them. Vladimir dismisses the notion, and any set of circumstances which could possibly favor Hilary against him.
Camille takes Hilary to the residence of D'Shawn, which turns out to be a front, along with the entire Tranquility Campus, for a secret underground defense facility known as MOONCOM, constructed by a mining company owned by Magnus' father, and run by her own. She then confesses she was born there. And because of her lack of natural immunities, she can never venture to Earth, and must be guarded in her contacts and attachments with others. Hilary declares his love for her, which disgusts Camille, as a 'license for insanity'.
Camille avoids Hilary thereafter. Concerned, he goes to Magnus, and asks why Camille has become so all-consumed with schoolwork, to the exclusion of everything and everybody. Magnus states plainly it's her desire to graduate in two semesters rather than five. He also cautions Hilary about meddling and persisting, by equating his desire to the capturing of the mythical Helen and the start of The Trojan War. Cryptically adding that he and Vladimir represent Camille's accomplices as well as her protectors.
Following that, Hilary broods and his schoolwork suffers. He has a succession of extensive flashbacks about his friends back home, centered upon Henry and his girlfriend China, who he, himself, had developed unrequited feelings for. Following a graduation party, Hilary's convinced of Henry's disregard for China, and goes to her. There, they make hash brownies, have sex, then go out for tacos. On the way, in the wake of a near collision, Hilary insists China no longer loves Henry, and that Henry never really cared about her. China curses and spits at Hilary, and throws him out of the car, representing the last memory he has of her.
Vladimir is arrested in connection with his ill-fated marijuana operation, is expelled, and sent back to Earth. But, as part of a plea agreement, is allowed to keep its proceeds, to spare the college any public embarrassment.
Hilary returns home to Earth. He discusses his grades with his parents, and his time with Vladimir, of which, they do not approve.
Hilary contacts Henry. Henry invites Hilary to a party. There he reunites with Henry, and with China. China confides in Hilary and apologizes for her actions, explaining that she came to realize Henry's true feelings, and Hilary's as well. A moment punctuated by Henry, intruding on them with another girl happily on his arm.
Hilary visits his psychiatrist. But their discussion consists almost entirely of the efficacy and strategies of assorted prescription medications. On the train-ride back, Hilary has a dream about a menacing skeleton rising from the waters of a black beach.
Hilary enjoys a game of bocce with Henry, who insists 'he's going to beat his ass like Chamberlain beat Hitler'. They then spend the rest of the day watching television, with China, cuddling with Henry and completely ignoring Hilary. Hilary excuses himself and phones another old school acquaintance in the hopes of scoring some ecstasy.
Hilary goes to the library to purchase some architectural books. And later, goes to another party, where his recent score of ecstasy makes him a very welcomed guest. There, he meets another old schoolmate, Strobe, and trades stories of how so many of their friends and relatives have succumb to addiction and mental-illness. Another classmate, Ken, who's sister's in Costa Rica working with Habitat for Humanity, interjects, and unfurls a story about having stopped at Dairy Queen, and on the way, having picked up Henry, then China, who was at the cemetery, grieving over her still-born twin sister. The party then moves to the basement, where they countdown the minutes until the ecstasy takes affect. Henry and China begin to make out.
Hilary visits Vladimir and his extended family in New Jersey. Vladimir's father takes Hilary to the basement for a dental check-up. Hilary then rejoins Vladimir, and another classmate, Luke 'Skywalker' Chang to watch a FIFA game, where Vladimir goads Hilary into participating in at least one, little drug deal.
Vladimir and Chang and Luke break into and rob a Smoke Shoppe. They go back to Marc's apartment and divide the spoils. Amber and Belize and Hallie show up at the apartment. And they party.
The next morning Hilary awakes, shakes the cocaine residue from his Tranquility (college) ID card. Hilary and Vladimir head back to Vladimir's home in preparation of running some errands. There, they hear and are amused by the muffled screams of a dental patient in the basement, before taking Vladimir's sister shopping and to lunch.
Back home, with his father, Hilary asks him what life was like at his age. And later, directs the conversation back to death. The father definitively dispenses with the notion of doing anything but delaying the inevitable, and distracting oneself sufficiently, since dwelling over the rest is futile and entirely out of our control. A view which doesn't bring Hilary much comfort.
At dinner, with his mother, Hilary asks about what prompted the schism between his father and his uncle Issac, (Vladimir's father). Hilary then shows her a holographic crystal portrait of Camille, of which, she approves.
Hilary receives a call from Camille. She assures him, that in spite of her delicate medical condition, and the circumstances, she does want to see him, and she urges him to come back soon.
Freshman Year - Second Semester:
On the flight back, Hilary has a dream; A mental montage of the clinical processes of evolution, to life, to thought, to emotion, leading to a quick-succession of considered moments and the events of his own life, forming, accumulating, and leading to that point, back on the moon, with Camille.
Once back, he goes to visit Camille, but is informed she's fallen ill and is away. He considers how her condition must also affect her emotionally, entertaining any relationship which might limit what she might do, where she might go, who she might be.
Hilary's contacted by Magnus, and urged to meet him at a specific location. There he helps him make an herbal poultice which he insists will help the still ailing Camille upon her imminent return. When she arrives, they apply the homemade 'Viking Magic' remedy, then Camille washes up and joins Hilary in bed. The next morning, she resists any further physical contact.
Hilary spends more and more time with Camille, giving her a crash-course on the entirety of his life. Moments of normalcy are offset by moments where he catches her shivering and crying in her sleep, and standing naked in front of bathroom mirror confronting her condition and a vast assortment of medications.
Hilary asks about Camille's parents. She describes her father in unflattering terms and lets slip that her mother died before she was born, before 'correcting' herself.
Hilary confides to Camille an accident which occurred when was young, and feels has contributed greatly to his own sense of isolation and alienation. He then bluntly asks Camille if she's going to die. She assures him she will not, but warns of something terrible on the horizon.
Upon their next visit, Hilary finds Camille with Magnus, and is told, once again, she has fallen ill. Hilary insists on knowing what's going on. Camille confesses that she's the genetically altered off-spring created from her dead mother, as a means to preserve her father's love and defy her mother's untimely death. But, as an experiment, still illegal on Earth, it is failing.
They race back to the facility. There they're met by her father, who she confronts, stating she will never forgive him. In the lab, Camille regrets having been such a burden to Magnus, and how she'd never be able to visit Vivian, as she once again rejoins the world.
She explains to Hilary that she'll be placed in stasis, in lieu of a cure, which she believes will never come. She then rejects any thought of others placing their own lives on hold, based on such an empty hope.
Back from the lab, and to the residence, Magnus and Hilary come upon the lifeless body of Camille's father, having hung himself. Wraught, not only with guilt and sorrow over the seemingly hopeless condition of Camille, but helpless in stopping life from tragically repeating itself.
Hilary and Magnus return to the college village, and inform Vivian, who grieves with them, but rationalizes the joys and the dangers of our attachments.
Hilary reads an email from Camille, left posthumously, of her hopes, her regrets, and of what might've been.
Magnus explains how his father and Camille's both loved her mother. Yet, was horrified at the notion of cloning, which he felt was against the laws of life and of nature. But Camille and Magnus grew-up together and retained those close ties throughout their lives.
Thereafter, Hilary carries on with his life; New friends, old friends, his school-work, settling old scores, and trying to sort out and makes sense of his experiences and his existence.
Home on Earth, Hilary has an eerie encounter with a being who looks just like him. The being offers a cryptic note and an equally ominous remark that his adventure is not quite over.
Moon College has the challenge of presenting a stream of consciousness, while wrangling those disparate elements into a story.
Written in a linear, diary-like fashion, the author might, instead, consider how interweaving those themes, parallel moments, prompts, triggers, and previous experiences might preserve the impressive breadth of those elements, while strengthening the flow of the narrative.
Much of what would be considered as the second act, 'The Winter Break' is, instead, dominated with a series of protracted flashbacks, then a return to Earth, where, the main character's further separated from what was first presented as the main story, and allows it to fade nearly into an afterthought. And, as a result, reclaiming and resolving the third act seems abbreviated and rushed.
I am not suggestion any of those elements be removed. I'm suggesting that those experiences and reminiscences might be better served if broken into bits and redistributed, bit by bit, within the narrative; As old relationships remind us of current ones, as wisdom foreshadows our future, and as experience is called upon when faced with those same exact situations again and again and again. Many of the author's themes and desires are recurrent, and expressed in a myriad of different ways in defining himself; In the teachings and expectations of his parents, the love and acceptance of others, the temptations of his friends, the circumspection of metaphysics and philosophy, a hoped for manipulation through psychiatry or finesse through chemistry, the structure and beauty of music and architecture, the fertile allusions to Burroughs and Vonnegut, Burgess, Thompson and Kerouac, and the pure escapism of video-games.
Perhaps the author might even consider distilling the main story down to some narrower slice of time or event? An urgency in which he must call upon everything life has taught him? Or perhaps even consider using the effort of his characters' creation of an RPG as an analog, to construct and structure and incorporate and mirror everything he loves and gives his life meaning --- if only we had the power to make it so?
All the best,
No matter, Hilary stumbled into a - sort of - course of study and started meeting all kinds of weir... people. Not the least of whom was one of the strangest girls imaginable with a strange "boy friend".
Every other person seemed to be some kind of cousin of his, adding to the list of weirdos - including one having his own surname. This one is eventually said to be brilliant, but can't speak his own language coherently.
A large central portion of the book skips back to spend time on earth during his semester break and goes on about more weirdos there.
I see Moon college as pretty much a lead-in to Moon College II, which is apparently not even written yet. (I wish it were.)
Well, at least it doesn't butcher the English language and syntax - unless intentionally.
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