cover image Hot Moon

Hot Moon

Alan Smale. Caezik SF & Fantasy, $29.99 (476p) ISBN 978-1-64710-050-6

Smale (the Clash of Eagles trilogy), a NASA astrophysicist and data archive manager, cleverly uses his insider knowledge of the American space program to craft a nail-biting thriller set in a plausible alternate 1979. The Cold War is heating up in space. The Soviet Union’s desire to beat the U.S. has led to a reckless approach to its cosmonaut program, which has cost Russian lives, but also enabled the Soviets to land the first man on the Moon. For NASA astronaut Vivian Carter, however, there’s been an upside to the competition; because the third Russian cosmonaut on the Moon was female, NASA responded by bolstering the roles of American women within its own program. Now Carter heads the Apollo 32 mission—but her planned lunar landing is jeopardized when the space station she’s docked at comes under attack from a Soviet craft. Carter scrambles to keep herself and her crew safe—but this attack is just the opening salvo to what soon becomes all-out war. Smale makes the most of this conceit, coupling suspenseful plot developments with fully realized characters. Fans of Chris Hadfield’s thematically similar The Apollo Murders will be hooked. Agent: Caitlin Blasdell, Liza Dawson Assoc. (July)