Back to the Moon
by Travis S. Taylor & Les Johnson
Cover Artist: David Mattingly
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439134054
Date: 07 December 2010 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Long ignored and underfunded, NASA is going back to the moon. Bill Stetson grew up dreaming that he would go to the moon. He is now the commander of the return mission. Just like the first time the U.S. went to the moon, there is a space race. NASA has strict rules to follow, and any problem will lead to huge delays. But everything is on track for a proper return to the moon.
Paul Gesling is hired by Gary Childers to pilot Space Excursions' space plane. The only drawback is stewarding the rich patrons who don't seem all that concerned with duties. The first flight around the moon is scheduled to beat NASA's manned return. When they make their trip around the moon, they find out that there was a third group involved in the race, China.
Trapped on the surface of the moon, is a crew of taikonauts from the ship Harmony. Initially, the Chinese government denies that they have people on the moon. Once they admit and begin to cooperate a rescue mission is organized. Bill Stetson is go to the moon.
The rescue mission has a few little hiccups, but nothing that Stetson can't overcome. But as each little miscue occurs, the question arises as to whether the crew can make it to the moon and return safely.
Back to the Moon recaptures the spirit of Apollo 13. The crew overcomes problem after problem with ingenuity and the resources on ship. There is also a little intrigue as a side dish. Even when things look bleak, you know that our heroes can save the day.
This was a fast paced adventure. The authors recreated the spirit of accomplishment and unity of space exploration as it was in the sixties in a near future. Without a bunch of impossible technology, they create a semi-realistic scenario and tell how it all plays out. The only drawback was that as the obstacles became greater, it seemed to become just a bit gratuitous.
One aspect that I haven't hit on, is the Chinese. The authors did a nice job creating these characters playing on the traditional stereotypical qualities. The Chinese steal U.S. technology and designs to get to the moon, do it secretly, but when something goes wrong they tell nobody and deny. I would like to think that the Chinese would value their people more than their pride but you never know. Of course when you consider the lack of respect for copyright, etc., maybe it isn't that far-fetched a scenario.
The characters are pretty much what they seem to be. This isn't a book about the great development of person, it is about overcoming the odds, so depth isn't necessary. This is a space adventure, it is what it is-- proudly and without reserve, and that is what I enjoyed. It didn't hide behind PC, which is a pleasant detour from what we see too often today. If readers enjoyed Space Cowboys, they should enjoy this as well.