Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Apr 04 07:10:46 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #30

%T Lunar Activity
%A Elizabeth Moon
%I Baen Books
%D April 1990
%O paperback, US$3.50
%P 278
%G 0-671-69870-2

In her recent trilogy, The Deed Of Paksenarrion, Elizabeth Moon proved herself a skilled and original practitioner of the art of the fantasy novel. These stories demonstrate that she's better yet at short-story SF.

Lunar Activity collects eleven short stories. Eight of these first appeared in Analog over the last four years; two others are SF reprinted from F&SF, and the last (as the publisher's blurb breathlessly notes) is an original set in the world of Paksenarrion and, indeed, featuring Paksenarrion as a character (though not as protagonist).

The Analog stories are very good. Moon has a knack for exposition and the telling detail; her prose is clean, transparent, effective and very much in the tradition of what hard SF should be like. But she doesn't fall back on cliche, ever; in fact, she seems to enjoy writing from angles that confound and reverse the reader's genre-formed expectations. There is little of world-sweeping drama or clenched-jaw heroics here, just the quiet courage of ordinary people refusing to fail.

The F&SF stuff is weaker; one story (If Nudity Offends You) is rather slight and enigmatic, another (New World Symphony) very interesting in concept and detail but ultimately not credible. The original, the anthology's only fantasy, has the same strengths and flaws as the Paksenarrion trilogy itself; it is grippingly and convincingly told, but tends towards a vaguely priggish oversimplification of what good and evil in human beings are actually like.

Overall, this book is definitely worth your time; even the failures are interesting. Though I'd read some of them in Analog, I'd failed to connect them with the Paksenarrion books and hadn't realized how strong an SF writer Ms. Moon is. I finished the anthology with much more respect for and interest in her writing than I had when I began it, and will be following her future work closely for signs that she is maturing from journeyman into master.

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Wed Apr 04 07:10:46 EDT 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>