Avengers of the Moon

Allen Steele. Tor, $25.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8218-4
This affectionate pastiche of Edmond Hamilton’s mid-20th-century Captain Future space operas is all about first loves—both romantic connections and genre fandoms. Curt Newton, orphan son of murdered scientists, grows up in a secret Moon base, raised by a cyborg, an android, and a robot. Pursuing the murderer, who’s now a powerful Lunar politician, he disrupts an assassination attempt on the president of the Solar Coalition and accepts a commission, as Captain Future, to uncover the Martian conspiracy behind the attempt. Naturally, a beautiful female inspector of the Interplanetary Police Force is by his side in more ways than one. Steele (Arkwright), who won awards for his reflective 1995 novella, “The Death of Captain Future,” ably re-creates the pulp milieu with its clumsy-cute terms (Curt uses a “plasmar” pistol; natives of Venus are “aphrodites”) and a linear narrative that ploughs a straight furrow through the Lunar and Martian soils, turning up femmes fatales, mysterious million-year-old alien artifacts, and supervillains. The retro feel is enjoyable but may overwhelm readers who dislike seeing an otherwise strong female character needing to “overcome her disgust” or gape with “fear evident on her face” at alien threats. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2016
Release date: 04/11/2017
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