cover image Red Moon

Red Moon

Kim Stanley Robinson. Orbit, $27 (464p) ISBN 978-0-316-26237-8

Although the premise of Robinson’s disappointing latest near-future novel—that by 2047 the moon has been colonized by the U.S. and China—is classically science-fictional, the focus remains on projecting those countries’ economic and political futures back on Earth rather than on exploring the implications of extraterrestrial human societies. Fred Fredericks, an American, has been sent to the moon to deliver a “mobile quantum key” phone to the Chinese, but when he shakes the hand of Gov. Chang Yazu, both men are poisoned, Chang fatally. American State Department agents try to keep Fred out of Chinese custody as an investigation is launched into the murder, which may implicate a super-secret branch of Chinese intelligence whose desire to militarize the moon was opposed by Chang. Fred ends up fleeing to Earth along with Qi, a woman who illegally got pregnant on the moon. Their narrow escapes become repetitive, and neither character is well-developed, while Robinson’s speculations about a future for blockchain governance are interesting but not well integrated into the plot. This dry work is didactic and unremarkable. Agent: Chris Schelling, Selectric Artists Literary & Talent. (Oct.)