Aug 19, 2007
It's by Dave Michaels.
And you never heard of him, right?
He published a novel, in the year 2000, entitled Red
Moon (not to be confused with Michael Cassutt's novel of same
name published around the same time). Cassutt's novel is
good. Dave Michael's is among the best 3 or 4 novels I've
ever read, period.
The background of the novel: I've always been
fascinated by the collapse of the Soviet space program in the
1960s. The Soviets jump-started the space age with Sputnik in
1957. They got the first animals and then the first people
up into space. They sent spacecraft - with no people -
to the moon. They were on the verge of getting people
They inspired John F. Kennedy - in the names of both wonder
and security - to put the U.S. on a course to send a man to the
moon and safely return him by the end of the decade.
Which we did.
But the Soviets never made it. Their move into
space hit a mysterious stone wall. And the lack of
continuing competition between them and us was likely the most
significant factor in the fizzling of our own efforts in
space. Forty years later, and we've yet to set foot on the
moon again, or anywhere beyond our space station.
What happened to the Soviet space program? The death of
its mastermind, Sergei Korolev in 1966, no doubt was a grievous
blow. But ... I don't know ... there were a lot of other
talented people working in the Soviet space program. The
death of one man, however important, should not have led to its
Red Moon provides some breath-taking science fiction
How I found out about the novel
: It was at a
reading I was giving at a science fiction convention - Balticon (in
Baltimore) in the Spring of 2001. David S. Michaels came
up to me after the reading, with a copy of my novel, The
, for me to autograph. Then he pulled a
600-page book out of his backpack, and asked me to please accept
it, as a present.
I wasn't sure what to say. First, travelling back from
Baltimore to New York by train (I love driving, but trains even
more) is no fun with a heavy bag of books, which I already
had. Second, as a writer, I find I don't read as much
fiction as I would like - if I'm writing a novel, which I usually
am, reading someone else's can throw me off course. But
There was something about Dave, and I was already keenly
interested in the subject, so I thanked him for the present and
added it to my bag (it was filled with non-fiction books, by
the way, which I do read when I can).
It was well into June before I had a chance to open Red
Moon. And when I did - well, I couldn't put it
down. It might as well have been a new Foundation or
Harry Potter novel. The subject, the plot, the characters,
the writing was brilliant. I contacted Dave right away, told him
how much I enjoyed the novel. It had been published by a very
small press. I told him I would try to get it to the
attention of a bigger publisher.
Which I did... But all of this was right before
September 11, 2001, when lots of things changed in the publishing
world (most of which is headquartered in New York City). And
in the aftermath, at least the publishers that I had been in
contact with were doing other things, cutting back their
And so, nothing more happened with Dave Michaels' Red
. I listed it as my #1 favorite first
science fiction novel on a list I started on Amazon. (It's a
pretty exclusive list. I'd highly recommend Bob Katz's
, which is #2 on the list. Wen Spencer's
and Larry Ketchersid's Dusk
are there, too.)
Amazon now has an "out of print" sign on Dave Michaels'
Red Moon's page. (I also have a reader review of the
Now that I'm thinking about the book again, I'm gonna do what
I can to help get it published - hopefully better -
In the meantime, if you're at all interested in the space
race, what could have been, why what happened - and didn't happen -
happened, the extraordinary human struggle to reach the cosmos,
give yourself a treat, and see if you can score a second-hand
copy of this novel somewhere. Trust me - you'll be caught up
in an adventure, in an intrigue of alternate and real history, that
you'll never forget.