by James P. Hogan
Cover Artist: Allan Pollack
Review by Mel Jacob
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416555346
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $23.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
James Hogan mines familiar territory in his latest novel Moon Flower. Set in the future, the United States has fractured into several nations and undergone a period of turmoil. Mega corporations rule the world and seek to explore space and exploit its resources. They have developed massive armaments including the Marduk orbiting weapons platform. The novel opens with its use against a rebel group in a breakaway part of Indonesia and the slaughter of the fighters and supporters.
Interworld Restructuring Corporation's efforts to establish an outpost on Cyrene, a distant planet with a double star system, has experienced a large number of defections. The local population, while polite and fascinated with Terran technology, sees no reason to change their way of life.
No one has identified what property of Cyrene causes people to move from competitive 'me-first' to consideration of what is best for all. Cyreneans believe in optimization for all and do not understand the Terran desire to corner and control resources. They prize knowledge and ability, especially those of artists and craftsmen.
Terran staff on Cyrene have lost their sense of mission and work on the base lags behind schedule. Frustrated executives send a military expedition to recover a missing scientist and put an end to staff losses. They select Myles Callen, a military troubleshooter and ruthless leader, to recover Evan Wade the scientist and put the colony back on mission. They also send a young colleague of Wade's, Marc Schearer, a physicist, in hopes of reaching Wade through him.
On Earth, Wade and Schearer worked on developing a means of collecting and identifying what they term A-waves that travel from a future event backwards in time. To date, experiments have proved inconclusive. Wade and Schearer share not only similar scientific views, but also political ones. From Cyrene, before Wade disappeared, he requested an assistant with the position description tailored to Schearer.
Schearer escapes the Terran base and seeks Wade. Pursuit follows. As he travels, Schearer struggles to understand why the Cyrenean values differ from those of the Terrans and what causes it. Why did this difference develop here, but nowhere else Terrans have visited?
Hogan offers a frightening glimpse of an all too probable future. Dedicated fans will enjoy the read, but others may find it rehashes old ground with nothing new. He manages a few surprises as the novel moves toward resolution. The ending provides hope for the future.