Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald. ★★★
Luna: New Moon is an expansive science fiction novel set among the feuding family companies of the future moon settlement. The story focuses on the Cortas, a Brazilian family headed by Adriana Corta, who built an empire based around helium. As Adriana is dying, the family faces conflict from both inside and out.
This book is one of the best depictions of a futuristic feudal society I’ve seen. Combined with its brutal nature, the description “Game of Thrones in space” is what most readily springs to mind. The moon has no criminal law, only contract law. You have to pay for your air and water, and if you can’t pay, you get cut off. The families create marriage alliances and assassinate each other and go to war when those alliances don’t work. The Mackenzie family, the Cortas sworn enemies, are one of the most powerful, thanks partly to an adventurous marriage of one of their sons to the head of the Lunar Development Corporation (the man who functions as king in this feudal metaphor).
The world building is astounding. Besides the harsh, corporate based structure I’ve already mentioned, McDonald puts thought into every other area of society, from mixing of languages, to futuristic technology, to gender and sexuality. The moon settlements have no discernible discrimination based on sexual orientation, and much of the POV cast was bisexual.
And wow, was there a large POV cast. The primary characters are Adriana (who mostly tells flashbacks of how she came to dominate the moon), her five children, her three grandchildren, and a lowly worker of the family who raises thanks to her quick acting and a twist of fate. To McDonalds credit, I had little to no trouble keeping up with who all the characters were, and I rarely had to check the cheat sheet at the front of the book. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much I care about any of the characters. While self obsession and ruthlessness can make for interesting characters, it grows stale when those two words can describe almost everyone in the book.
Luna: New Moon was also slow moving, up until near the end. At times, some of the sections could feel pointless, such as the entire section describing Ariel’s sex life. When events finally did start to come together near the end, it became apparent that Luna: New Moon was not a complete story. It’s the first half of a duology, and it ends on a cliff hanger. Ultimately, it was mainly set up for a series which I don’t feel compelled to finish.