I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Moonkind: Survivors of Ebola on April 17th, 2015
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In another Century and a half, the world, as we know it, will be greatly
changed. This book foresees changes that most of us could scarcely
dream of. It imagines a world where current international tensions
have mostly dissolved, where continental solidarity has supplanted most national boundaries, and where global warming has actually abated. It is a time when space exploration is of prime importance and when robotically operated stations exist on our own Moon and on Mars and Venus..
But several traditional earthly problems have not been resolved. One of these is the periodic emergence of infectious diseases that (by means of insidious mutations) have evaded all modern efforts to prevent or control them. Enter Q-strain, an astoundingly pernicious mutation of Ebola virus which, over the period of a few years, totally wipes out all humans on the Earth. There is time, however, in the interim, to transport the very earliest
stage (blastocysts) of the clones from many very accomplished humans to the robotic station on the Moon. (These clones had been acquired years before the epidemic and stored in suspended animation in liquid hydrogen).
Roughly a century later, when the “all clear” for absence of the Ebola Q-strain mutant on the Earth has been biologically verified, these “celebrity clones” are given birth on the Moon and raised to adulthood by robotic guides and caretakers. The story then centers on the development of fourteen spirited “celebrity clones” who must find ways to realistically coexist, and then to ultimately return a human presence to our now Ebola-free blue planet. This sounds like quite a challenge, and in fact, that’s just what it is.
Merchant weaves a world where in the face of dire circumstances a handful of humanity devises a plan to save us all. The creation of clones who can carry on humanity, a man made branch of human evolution. We learn about the world through Thompson, an astronaut who is ensnared on the Moon while Earth quietly passes on from the Ebola Q-Strain virus. Thompson tasked with finishing up the educational program for the young clones and his voice is often heard as a final “human expert” throughout the book on various issues such as money, sexuality and religion. The coming of age of the clones reveals their final meaning for creation – to venture down to Earth and restart civilization.
Moonkind could have been a portentous book on the final days of humanity, the struggles of those who could not be with those they loved and the emotional turmoil of a failing world – but it fell short. I’m not saying Moonkind isn’t a fantastic read. In fact, the opposite is true. It has everything the perfect science fiction novel requires: outer space and future time frame, plausible technology we currently do not have, a change in political or social structures and androids. Moonkind’s tone reads like Finches of Mars as an intellectual exercise, but definitely maintains coherence. It utilizes the classical writing structure based on events and facts rather than emotional turmoil. The science was correct and it was brilliantly written. The story was logical and articulate, but the emotional and “human empathy” quotient was missing. As a reader, I find a large part of my experience is through the emotional journeys of the characters and the empathy I feel for them. I didn’t feel any of this. The only real response I had emotionally to this book was my hatred for Davontine and my dark delight when karma finally caught up with her.
The author weaves a largely academic or conceptual narrative that will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy science fiction that harks the original atmosphere of literature, apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels and books that make you think rather than feel.
I will be reading more of Merchant in the future in hopes of seeing new ideas and tales told by what could be a new best selling science fiction author with some publicity.