Moonseed Hardcover – Nov 1998
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Stephen Baxter, the much-lauded author of Voyage and Titan, has been praised as a sci-fi writer who gets the science right. This rigor and research are clearly evident in Moonseed, a tale with high-energy physics and space-travel technology in starring roles. It's Baxter's boyish enthusiasm for science--especially space travel--that makes Moonseed so involving.
A world-class disaster epic worthy of any Saturday matinee, Moonseed opens with the spectacular, explosive death of Venus, an event requiring energy a thousand billion times the world's nuclear arsenal. As the radioactive blast from the late Venus reaches Earth, scientists scramble to attribute a cause, with massless black holes and elementary particles the size of bacteria pointing towards some sort of superstring as the smoking gun. The pace quickens when the substance that may have caused the demise of Venus is accidentally introduced to Earth. This substance, dubbed moonseed, acts as a geological lubricant: processes that normally take millions of years occur in mere months with moonseed in the picture. Once Scotland and the state of Washington get gobbled up by this rock-eating, 10th-dimensional nano-lifeform, all hell breaks loose and the search turns towards finding safe refuge for humanity on the Moon. The book's second half is a seat-of-your-pants, what-if exploration of space travel and terraforming.
An over-the-top doomsday yarn by some measures, Moonseed keeps your feet on the ground with good science, good characters, and a good story. --Paul Hughes
From Kirkus Reviews
Another massive near-future, near-space yarn from the author of Voyage (1997). As NASA space jockey Geena Bourne acrimoniously splits from her geologist husband, Henry Meacher, Venus explodes into nova-like brilliance. The explanation, scientists think, involves superstrings: the planet's wreckage produces massless black holes. Geena returns to work, while Henry travels to Edinburgh to investigate a large Moon rock gathered by the last Apollo mission 30 years ago and left untouched since. Silvery ``Moonseed'' dust escapes from the lab, however, and ``infects'' the ancient volcanic rocks underlying the city, converting them into novel crystalline forms using superstring energies. Within days, Edinburgh is engulfed by volcanic eruptions. Moonseed spreads rapidly around the globe, chewing up the planet's crust, and producing more terrestrial turbulence. Henry, who's developing a theory (is Moonseed some sort of hive organism? or alien nanotechnology that converts planets into spaceships?) must get to the Moon to gather crucial evidence. Geena's the best pilot available, though rundown NASA will need lots of Russian hardware and technical help. Henry confirms that the Moon, too, is infected with Moonseed, but something massive is inhibiting its full development. With Earth doomed to meltdown, the Moons clearly the only safe haven for what's left of humanity. But can it be made habitable in time to receive millions of refugees? Baxter revels in the gritty, practical details of space flight and moon-walking; his alien threat is an intriguing and original one, though unconvincingly developed. But the padding (too many minor characters and unnecessary scenes) slows the pace to a crawl. (Movie rights to The Bridge Production Company) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
The geology and space travel aspects of this novel are thoroughly grounded in research, allowing Baxter to achieve tenability on top of the entertainment, unlike other sci-fi authors who are merely entertaining. Or even worse, unbelievable AND unentertaining (*cough* The Millennial Project *cough)! It's a hefty novel at over 650 pages, but it seemed much shorter to me due to the quick and continuous plot development. Being an engineer and amateur astronomer, my attention didn't wander during the more technical passages. In fact, I was captivated during Baxter's description of the voyage to the Moon and the sojourn there. If you're not technically inclined, perhaps 5-10% of the book may be heavy going. Fortunately, the other 90-95% is easily understood and enjoyed by the layman.
Thanks to the novel's level of science, I somewhat believe now that we could return to the Moon for under $2 billion if need be. I have a much better grasp now of the power of "Act of God" disasters like volcanoes and earthquakes. Areas that did not seem convincing to me: politics (funding without adequate explanations), speed of infrastructure failure (far too rapid), harenodynamics (wacky alternate method of landing on the Moon), Henry's solution (I won't spoil it here), and a few others.Read more ›
An even better point was Baxter's description of Earth-Moon travel. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever daydreamed of a successor to the Apollo program or of going back in time to plant a moon-boot in the regolith next to Neil Armstrong. I would venture to say that this book is really *about* returning to the moon, and that the Moonseed is merely there to provide an excuse to do so. Regardless, it is a fun vicarious journey.
With all the above traits to recommend it, this book should have qualified for five stars. But it didn't. Baxter clearly loves and knows his science, but whenever he strays from it - say, into character development, or the more mundane details of life - his writing suffers. Characters sometimes do things that don't seem consistent with their personalities. Details are dropped or glossed over. For example, a man with badly cracked ribs can barely move in one scene, but only hours later is walking around with little hinderance.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Moonseed was a great book. The science is right, the theories are excellent and well written. This was the first Stephen Baxter book I read, and I now own almost all his books. Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2002 by Corey RC Kimura
Found the geology knowledge interesting sicne
I'm not that familiar with geology!
Book a bit long but still got through the book
since was interested in figuring the... Read more
I have currently read two of Baxter's books, Ring and Moonseed. Moonseed is currently rated in my top 10 books ever read and I highly recommend it. Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2002
An excellent yarn and susprisingly good point of view narrative that doesn't jump so much, and sticks to the main chap pretty well. Read morePublished on July 7 2001 by CHRISTOPHER SIMMONS
I picked this book up when the local Crown Books was going bankrupt and closing their doors. It took me a little while to get into the book, but once the seed started to grow in... Read morePublished on May 15 2001 by Eric S. Bauman
By page fifty I was considering putting this book down out of frustration at waiting for something to happen. Read morePublished on May 8 2001
Forget the high-minded "great science" reviews. The story goes, quite literally, nowhere. This is not the return of "hard science" science fiction... Read morePublished on May 2 2001
I am an avid science fiction reader and I must say that this is one of the most boring books I have ever read. Baxter may know his science, but he has much to learn about fiction. Read morePublished on April 9 2001 by Professor Frink
After reading this book i discoverd a new wolrd of enlightenmant. It has many new ideas embeded in its storyline, with a few old ones to boot. Read morePublished on March 22 2001 by Robert Erez