Powers of the Earth (Review)

Powers of the Earth (Review)

ith apologies to my best friend (a Liberaltarian) who gave me this book, I simply couldn’t finish it.

I finish almost every book I start. I make a specific effort to do so. But this one, I could not. Let me go over the idea of the novel first, and then I close with my personal pain point about it.

So, Powers of the Earth is a tale of a lunar colony founded by those fleeing the slow system’s failure of Earth. Everything is quite touchy-feelie back at home, with the military forced to accept handicap soldiers, with CEOs put on trial and everything going to shit. Apparently (I believe through plots forwarded in some earlier book), anti-gravity engines (a secret technology not available to the greedy nations left behind) have been installed on blue-water ships (which, shades of Space Battleship Yamato, can actually fly from Earth to the Moon).

This ease of transport has permitted Aristillus, a lunar colony, to form. Bold Liberaltarians all, these freedom-loving people go about their lives (with no explanation of who is picking up the tab for the free air, for environment integrity, for new construction, not to mention how public order and judicial matters are resolved (but I’m ahead of myself)). Now, it’s a big gray-rocked Eden.

But the Earth can’t let this go. They see these bold Lunar sons as tax evaders and scofflaws. With that, an ill-advised and semi-cognitive media-personality president (okay, seriously, that much is realistic, sadly) launches something like a war but not like a war. They burn down all the moon’s communication satellites. They seize some of the floating ships (so they can reverse-engineer the drives). And then they start talking invasion, serious invasion.

And during this time, Mike Martin, imbittered self-made-man and rifle-enthusiast, is trying to do what he doesn’t want to do, to become his enemy (i.e. a government), to organize a defense of his native regolith, even though (when I stopped) everyone else wants to negotiate. And meanwhile, a short distance off, a wandering fellow with his four uplifted dogs has made a frightening discovery concerning a rogue AI and some hidden instillations.

Sounds good? Well, then go out and get it.

My problems are two-fold. First, I’ll believe in flying ships as well as all sorts of crazy crap SF forwards. But I have a really hard time with taking something as self-contained and critically regulated as a Liberaltarian lunar colony on faith. Really, how’s this suppose to work. I remember H.G. Wells explaining his utopias. But here we have hundreds of thousands of people living on the moon. What do these folks do when monopolies form? Or criminal gangs? Or warlords? Really, I simply can’t imagine this actually happening.

Worse for me was the entire concept of straw-bossing. Everyone in this book’s “Santa’s naughty list” is short-sighted, phony, evil, and stupid. Every enemy they face, from the president on down, has no redeeming values and seemingly no life goal outside screwing over Liberaltarians. Sorry, but to a non- Liberaltarian, this persecution complex gets old really fast. I found myself not reading, avoiding this book with guilt, rather than throw more hours into it. Sorry, but I think a combination of being an old socialist and an even older reader killed me on this one. Give me a city that actually works and villains who are actually believable and I’ll read it. I’ve even enjoyed Atlas Shrugged.

So, sorry, I can’t say I really enjoyed this one.