October 25, 2016

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A Cloudy Night Read

Originally published November 25, 2006


published by Apogee Books

This is a strange and compelling book. My friend Alan Binder, the person behind the design, construction and operation of the Lunar Prospector spacecraft, has written a very unusual novel that is full of precise details about the Moon, and vehement criticism of NASA. Both his expertise and attitude stem from his long career in planetary science and in working with NASA, especially during Prospector. Alan strongly believes that NASA and the major aerospace companies are incompetent, and this novel, like his exhaustive history Lunar Prospector: Against All Odds says so repeatedly. It is also a peculiar book because the lead character - a classic alter ego - refers to Dr Binder by name and NASA’s neglect of his theory that large lunar quakes still occur. Add to this the sometimes wooden depiction of major characters and you might conclude that this is a personal vendetta combined with sour grapes, and thus not something to read. But Alan doesn’t have sour grapes because he was extraordinarily successful with Lunar Prospector and in his previous work as a leader of Viking in the 1970s. He is strongly opinionated and willing to say publicly what others only mutter in private. This is a new type of novel, a docudrama that is well founded on factual understanding of lunar science and engineering, but written as much as a condemnation as a tale of adventure. Since the lunar base in Moon Quake is at Fra Mauro, and there is a wonderful traverse to Copernicus, lunar observers will appreciate the story. And it has enough unexpected twists and turns - and as exciting an ending as you would expect from a seasoned novelist - that you just might consider reading it.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
Moon Quake is only available from Apogee Books.

Related Links:

Yesterday's LPOD: Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow's LPOD: A Hiding Mouse


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