Has anybody else here read Gillebaard's "Moon Hoax"? (spoilers)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by hbquikcomjamesl, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Having just referred to the book in my comments on DRG's latest ST:TOS novel, I find myself morbidly curious:

    Has anybody else here read Paul Gillebaard's Moon Hoax?

    Does anybody else here have as low an opinion of it as I do?

    When we first meet the protagonist, he's portrayed as a complete and utter cad, having sex with women without even caring enough about them to bother learning their names!

    From the early Mercury and Vostok missions, the whole point of wearing a space suit for launch, reentry, and perhaps docking, has been to make cabin depressurization a survivable mishap, rather than an instant fatality. And it's made perfectly clear that the author's aging sidekick is wearing that sort of suit, rather than merely a G-suit. Yet when it becomes necessary to open the hatch on the "stolen with the covert blessings of the Russian government" Soyuz that was boosted into lunar orbit, after having had to jettison the orbital module thereof, the sidekick knowingly and willingly buys the farm. A suit whose whole raison d'etre is to protect against cabin depressurization, that doesn't actually fulfill that function. What a concept.

    If the weapon is a weaponized industrial laser, mass-produced by a U.S. manufacturer, then why not just send up a big heat-sink, covered with corner-reflectors optimized for the laser's spectral line(s), and let it fry itself?

    In the prologue, a Chinese crew, on China's very first manned circumlunar mission, not only manage to land on the Moon, but do so covertly, on the far side, for the purpose of deploying a weaponized industrial laser programmed to shoot down anything non-Chinese entering lunar orbit. And they apparently go to the enormous expense and risk of doing so, purely so they can claim that the U.S. faked the Apollo landings, without anything inconvenient (like the LRO) raining on their parade. I continued to plow through this opus, despite the dumb mistakes, in hopes that Gillebaard would eventually reveal some better motivation on the part of the Chinese, something that would actually be worth their going to all that expense and risk.

    He didn't. So far as the readers are concerned, they did so because their leaders were a bunch of black-hat villains out of a Saturday morning cartoon. The bad guys in a 70-year-old Bobbsey Twins children's novel have more plausible motivations.

    Aside from the book being a spectacular example of how not to write a novel, it's also a prime example of how not to market one: while a weaponized industrial laser programmed to shoot down spacecraft is arguably a science fiction concept, the book is really an international intrigue thriller being marketed as science fiction.
     
  2. hyzmarca

    hyzmarca Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    The advanced crew escape suit and it's predecessors, designed to be worn during takeoff and landing, are not EVA suits. They're high-altitude pressure suits and are not vacuum rated. They will not protect you from depressurization in outer space and are not meant to do so. They're only useful if something goes wrong while you're in the upper atmosphere.
     
  3. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    The primary differences between an intravehicular suit and an extravehicular suit have to do with (1) how well the pressure bladder is constrained against ballooning (so that the wearer can actually do useful work), (2) whether the insulation and heat-management systems are good enough to keep the wearer from broiling in the sun and freezing in the shade, and (3) the amount of radiation and micrometeoroid shielding provided in the outer layers. None of these things are relevant to mere survival in a depressurized spacecraft.

    A Mercury (i.e., modified Navy Mark IV) suit is designed to hold 3.7 PSI. The same is true of the Gemini G3C through G5C suits, and the Apollo A7L and A7LB suits. The Soviet Vostok (SK-1) suit was designed to hold 3.9 to 4.4 PSI, the ACES 3.5 PSI, and the EMU 4.3 PSI. Of these, only the Apollo suits and the EMU are extravehicular suits.

    A Russian Sokol suit, though strictly an intravehicular suit in terms of ballooning management, thermal management, and shielding, is designed to hold 5.8 PSI.

    But what difference does any of this quibbling over how long a human being in a Sokol suit survive total cabin depressurization make, if the reader's first impression of the protagonist is so bad as to encourage complete apathy as to whether he lives or dies, and the antagonists are portrayed as stereotypical caricatures with no motivation beyond pure sadistic malice?

    Going back to my first complaint about the book, I freely admit that I've been guilty in my own writings of making a protagonist totally unsympathetic, by bungling "protagonist kisses baby" passages so badly that the average reader see them as "protagonist kicks dog." But Gillebaard doesn't even appear to have been trying to make his protagonist sympathetic.