Red Moon

Series: Mars Trilogy , Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 46 mins
4 out of 5 stars (353 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Red Moon is a magnificent novel of space exploration and political revolution from New York Times best-selling author Kim Stanley Robinson.

It is 30 years from now, and we have colonized the moon.

American Fred Fredericks is making his first trip, his purpose to install a communications system for China's Lunar Science Foundation. But hours after his arrival, he witnesses a murder and is forced into hiding. 

It is also the first visit for celebrity travel reporter Ta Shu. He has contacts and influence, but he, too, will find the moon can be a perilous place for any traveler. 

Finally, there is Chan Qi. She is the daughter of the minister of finance, and without doubt a person of interest to those in power. She is on the moon for reasons of her own, but when she attempts to return to China, in secret, the events that unfold will change everything - on the moon and on Earth.

For more from Kim Stanley Robinson, check out:

  • New York 2140
  • 2312
  • Aurora
  • Shaman
©2018 Kim Stanley Robinson (P)2018 Hachette Audio

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Murder and politics on the moon

Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Moon is a murder mystery set against a political upheaval and government infighting in China. An American who works for a Swiss company is framed for the assassination of a Chinese official on the moon. What ensues is a mystery surrounding the reason for the murder as well as the involvement of the daughter of a high ranking Chinese official. Related by several points of view, including a prominent Chinese TV personality who finds himself in the middle of the action, the tale bounces back and forth between the Earth and the moon until the mystery is slowly revealed.

Robinson envisions travel to the moon as common as well as extensive projects on the moon, mainly in extraction industries and scientific research. There are also detailed discussions of available resources on the moon as well as likely commercial and governmental activities to pursue in addition to the complex arrangements that allow various sovereign nations to co-exist. Finally Robinson presents China as a nation, just one five year plan away from total political breakdown due to competing factions. Unfortunately, the ending is less than satisfying since although the mystery itself is revealed, the resulting closure is simply dropped.

The choice of multiple narrators was wise as the tone and pace of the tale shifts with each perspective. Narration is well done.

7 people found this helpful

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  • GP
  • 03-31-19

16 hours of nothing much happening

It's traditional for stories to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm open to experimentation, but this book has a very long preamble and then the beginning of a beginning. The writing may actually be great, but the structure is so not to my taste that I couldn't appreciate it. I would say the plot was not to my taste, but the gist of my complaint is that there is no plot — just characters and description.

9/10ths of this book was aimless meandering — they show up. They gawk. They're hiding. They decide it would be safer there. They hide and hang out. They wander around. They decide they'd be safer where they started out after all. They philosophize. They gawk some more. The ending seems like they're going to cram the entire plot into the last chapter, but no... it's just an action scene to show you something is about to happen... that isn't going to be part of the book. I kept listening to the excellent performance thinking "OK, something is surely going to happen in the next chapter". Nope — fooled me again.

I get it: the sweep of history and the part that individuals play in it. I just don't care for this way of talking about it. If the high point of LOTR for you was Frodo and Gollum wandering around in the swamps for hundreds of pages, if your favorite part of Harry Potter is the part in Goblet of Fire where Harry and Hermione camp out for chapters on end, then you might love this.

The performance was great though — the use of multiple actors was very effective and each of them was excellent.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Takes a long time to get anywhere then just ends

Takes a long time to get anywhere then just ends. At least 20 chapters of nothing but very slow and inconsequential character building. Then when the pace does pick up and the character growth means anything the book abruptly ends with no resolution.

Poor pacing and poor climax.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Better than one could have possibly hoped.

If you'd told me this was an 18 hour long riff on "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," written by a white guy in the voice of Chinese characters, I'd have passed it by. But, it's surprisingly thoughtful and engaging. If only it had an ending, it would be a truly great novel. (I suspect the end is 800 pages in the future, which is thoroughly annoying, but not unexpected, given the author.)

3 people found this helpful

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Red Moon is worth reading

I happen to enjoy Robinson's mix of story with alot of science and geopolitics. And the AI monologues. The only thing that irked me was the abrupt ending. There had better be a sequel soon.

2 people found this helpful

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Great story. Very hopeful for a sequel

Good near future hard sci-fi. Loved the world that was setup. Haven’t had a chance to read Robinson in a while and he didn’t let me down.

4 people found this helpful

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commie propaganda

This was a great story amongst commie propaganda which confuses the reader. A great pile of leftisim B.S.

1 person found this helpful

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Not as good as other KSR books

Storyline seemed slow. Characters not all that interesting and the technology wasn’t either. Some interesting insights to where Chinese politics may go.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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So much Chinese influence in Modern SciFi: Good

I am really enjoying the greater participation of Chinese culture in SciFi. It both more accurately reflects the direction the 21st century seems to be taking and gives us insight into an entirely different (from western norms) culture. Or maybe I was just spoiled by The Three Body Problem trilogy.

Robinson always seems to manage to write a ripping great yarn when it comes to space colonization, which is a genre I very much prefer to space ship battles, space monarchies and space kitties. It is so much more grounded than the sort of space opera that somehow manages to completely miss the sense of scale involved in interplanetary travel. Rather than patching over plot holes with Treknobabble and magic FTL, Robinson leaves us with something that sounds like a plausible near future.

I loved Ta Shu, but was kind of annoyed by Fred and Qi. (Guessing at the spellings as I did not visually read the book). Still, most characters in the book served a useful function and both explained and enabled the story, and were therefore necessary.

I very much enjoyed the story, although I couldn't quite figure out the inconsistent narrators (seems to me, any one of them would be fine, but for a single character to have multiple voices was a bit jarring). My one major complaint is that the ending isn't really. There's obviously a "Green Moon" (if Robinson's naming convention can be predicted) coming, and since this book is so new, I'm probably going to have to wait a year or more before getting the rest of the story

4 people found this helpful

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This was ghost written right?

I loved the Red Mars trilogy: great thoughtful writing with deep politics and hard sci-fi, so I was looking forward to this book. Sadly nothing was similar between the two, and instead I found some strange doting orientalism that comes off as Chicom propaganda sometimes (even in it's moments of being most critical of the gongfei CCP).

I kept waiting for things to get interesting, but the most wanting bits for exposition just got skipped by (or turned into some strange, literal, space opera -- looking at you Free Crater -- I actually like Philip Glass, how did you make me dislike Satyagraha like that?).

The cryptocurrency bits could have been interesting too but instead felt forced and buzzwordy, and made it clear our dear author has never fired up the ol' TOR browser to get some digi-schneef sent to his doorstep.

Perhaps as some final sad (or hysterical) insult to decency making the main plot and characters even more distasteful, the lead male ends up becoming an actual cuck, delivering and raising not-his-kid from the Sino-princess who has been nothing but an unappreciative pain to him the entire story. This is either a deeply twisted premonition and warning of our bugmen future or maybe the whole cryptocurrency thing was a red-herring to throw off the chase from the real purpose of the book: a ghost-written front hoping to flop so Hollywood accounting can launder bitcoin sales and hide Kimbo's real identity as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Lastly, the voice actors we're good for the most part, I only docked a star because the AI in the book was voiced by a human and that kind of cultural appropriation just doesn't fly in 2020, robots are people too, hire them.