New Moon by Ian McDonald is one of those titles that I'm not quite sure how I feel about, even weeks after having finished the read. At first it reads like a series of loosely linked vignettes detailing the lives of the Corta family, founded by Adriana who was one of the first to settle there. Moving to the Moon is a one-way ticket for those who wish to make a life of it, since certain physiological changes make it impossible to return to a life on Earth. And depending on where you live, every breath, every drop of water is precious – and those who supply you with the credits to continue with your vital functions are very powerful individuals indeed.
We discover all too soon that politics on the Moon would put Machiavelli to shame, and conflict is resolved in how much blood is spilled.
What I liked about this novel was how Earth cultures are all smashed up, and the norms that we are accustomed to in present times are blatant non-issues. It does make the Moon brutal, but also a space where people are consciously alive – with a deeper understanding of the ephemeral nature of life. Take the moon run that the kids do every once in a while – naked and on the surface of the moon and exposed to a deadly environment. It's a rite of passage and darned dangerous, but they do it anyway. Because they can.
And like the theme of people running, the book itself carries itself at a breakneck pace, with multiple points of view that can make it a difficult read to get a handle on. This is both its strength and its weakness. Look, McDonald can write, and tells a cracking story often with lyrical, tactile prose, but I feel almost as if we don't fully immerse in the characters themselves – perhaps a side-effect of packing so much story into so many different characters.
Violent and exultant, at times festive and over the top, New Moon is definitely thought-provoking, and will stay with me for a long time. I'm just not sure if I have stamina for the stories that follow.