Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
Endgame on Luna One is another ambitious and thrilling sci-fi novel by Isaac Petrov. It is full of political intrigue and some social commentary. It is also filled with historically-inspired events and speculation about future events.
It's 100 years into the future (ok, more like 99 years). It's a new space age: an age of space colonization, primarily the Moon. An international initiative called the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has been enacted, seemingly with benign, benevolent intentions. One of its lead advisors is the gung-ho, beautiful scientist, Dr. Mwara Muthoni, one of the book's central figures.
As a 39 years old influential member of one of the world's leading bodies (the UN), Mwara may seem like someone who has it all together, yet she is actually a flawed and vulnerable character. We see this through her relationships with Liam, a soldier, and her mother, a woman of unrealistically high expectations.
Her relationship with Liam, a soldier who is in the middle of living a "second life" (due to age-defying technology) is one of the most interesting and sweet of the novel. Liam is clearly also a damaged and touched person. It is strongly implied that his first life was full of tragedy, and his current life as a soldier is full of trauma as well. Despite this, Liam stands out as a very chivalrous and protective gentleman who looks after and protects Mwara when she arrives in the middle of a war zone as a representative of the UN.
Anyway, back to the plot...
22th Century Earth might look peaceful on the surface, but it is a powder keg waiting to be lit. There are two large, rival governing bodies that seem to be attempting to coexist: the Western Alliance (pretty much NATO) and the Union of Free Peoples (pretty much the USSR and Communist China). Believe it or not, neither group is necessarily in “the right.” They're both flawed, selfish, and power hungry in one way or another.
Similar to the scenario in the Cold War, these two rivals pretty much only coexist to prevent mutually assured destruction via nuclear weapons. Also similar to the Cold War, these two rivals compete for space technology, in this case for the purpose of colonization. An over-reliance on artificial intelligence and droid technology makes this situation even more dangerous as it essentially puts a lot of the decision making in the hands of non-humans.
Helping to balance the two superpowers is the United Nations, which is struggling in this task as the pendulum of power swings dramatically throughout the novel.
The analogies with the Cold War aren't subtle at all. The members of the Union of Free Peoples even often refer to each other as “comrades.” Their leadership is also referred to as the “politburo.” This is interesting at times, but sometimes a bit cliché. There are times when this book, despite being set in the 22th Century, just seems... behind the times. Yes, technology has advanced, but it doesn't seem to have advanced as much as we'd hoped or imagined. Also, the Cold War conflict between East and West also seems a bit outdated, although you could argue we're still seeing that conflict play out today with the Sino-Russian alliance still posing a threat to the west.
Also, it's kinda funny that despite a century of technological advancements, the earthlings have barely colonized the Moon—literally the closest orbital body to us. Like, what about Mars? Is Elon Musk's brain still being kept in a jar somewhere, or is he rolling in his grave?
Likewise, it's kinda weird that despite a century of technological advancements, nuclear weapons are still the most dangerous things that humanity has. Like, they didn't develop antimatter weapons or a Death Star yet? It just seems kinda backwards, and perhaps that's the point.
It's also kinda funny that spacesuits still suck to move in, although to be fair, the people struggling to move in them are usually those who lack proper or adequate training (like Mwara). This does lead to one of the tensest moments in the book when she's in peril yet can't properly move in her suit.
Now, this isn't to say that the new technology in this book isn't cool or interesting. There are mass catapults that help humanity to send materials to the Moon colony with more efficiency. It also seems like rocket and spacecraft technology have really improved since there are so many of them. They aren't quite as common as cars are now, but they're about as common as sailboats.
Going back to the spacesuits, it's cool that people can use them to communicate with each other without having to type or do anything manually.
There are also a lot of instances when holograms are used, and special glasses/goggles are worn which allow individuals to see and talk to people who are many miles away.
Perhaps the most tantalizing and fascinating technology in this book is the age-defying technology that allows 50 years olds to look like they're in their prime and creates “immortals.” Imagine that! Imagine never aging and never dying! That's both awesome and terrifying!
Another thing that's terrifying in this book are the politicians like “His Excellency” Chairman Pichai of the Union of Free Peoples and the ruthless, impulsive President Jameson of the Western Alliance. These guys just come across as Machiavellian tyrants who are as dangerous to their own people as they are to the other side. They almost come across as cult leaders, having an almost religious following that will follow them into war even if it means their own lives.
One last terrifying bit of technology/alien concept is the technology/concept of “legal death.” This is literally what it sounds like: helping people to commit suicide quickly and efficiently. Yes, it's pretty much the same thing that was parodied in Futurama. Imagine that!
Anyway, this book is imaginative and has a lot to say and offer.
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