BATTLE LUNA Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Alexander Wallace fights for the moon.
Great things can come from science fiction conventions. Battle Luna started as a panel discussion moderated by Travis S. Taylor involving John Ringo and Timothy Zahn (of Thrawn trilogy fame). It passed through a number of authors, and some on the original panel couldn’t commit to it (science fiction writers have busy lives!), and so the eventual slate became Travis, Zahn, Michael Z. Williamson, Kacey Ezell, and Josh Hayes.

The end result is a fairly slim volume, coming in at just under three hundred pages, that could be best described as The Moon is a Harsh Mistress crossed with Red Storm Rising. At several points, the situation is compared to the American Revolution; rather than any particularly noble moral cause, the human colonies on the Moon want to secede from earthly rule for no other reason than because of taxes. Peppered throughout the book are references to history; Timothy Zahn makes one allusion to the Winter War, and it makes the whole enterprise feel more real.

Like much of Baen’s offerings, this is a book focused on its action, and what action it is! Timothy Zahn kicks off the conflict with the landing of the first Earth troops on the Moon, with all the briskness and verve of his large oeuvre. As with the other stories in the book, this one exploits the coldness and the silence of the lunar surface very well; everyone in the story is aware that this is a new, terrifying form of warfare, and the action is shown to match.
The stories in the book deftly contrast two aspects of the Moon: the cold misery of the surface with the variety of that which is inside the colonies. Michael Z. Williamson’s story is set in a claustrophobic outpost where air is at a premium, and uses that scarcity to advantage in a number of scenes.

But, contrary to how we see the celestial body nowadays, the Moon here is shown to be quite a lively place. Kacey Ezell’s story shows this off well, in which the protagonist is a dog trainer who is impressed by the lushness of the habitat in which she works. In a book filled with very good stories, Ezell’s is possibly my favorite (which is quite the accomplishment, given she’s in the same book as Timothy Zahn!), for it has a levity and a wit to it that melds well with the improbability of the situation. Her protagonist is also a ballroom dancer, and Ezell cares to describe the hobby accurately (as a ballroom dancer, it made me stupidly happy).

Battle Luna is at the halfway point between near-future science fiction and space opera, and what a treat it is. Those who like either of those, or military science fiction, will be well served by this wonderful little book.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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