This fast-paced, high-tech adventure is the continuation of the story of Douglas Stavenger, the Kennedy-esque scion of Moonbase’s founding dynasty.
While Moonbase has been flourishing under Stavenger’s management, it’s existence, and even Stavenger’s life, both depend on nanotechnology that has been outlawed on Earth in response to a wave of suspicion, fear, and violence. Soon, United Nations peacekeepers arrive on the moon to enforce the anti-nanotech laws, bringing with them intrepid news reporter Edith Elgin, who soon falls for Stavenger. Meanwhile, his mother has chosen to return to Earth, but upon arrival she is held hostage by the secretary general of the UN who wants Stavenger to surrender his forces—and to be killed.
Slick politicians, beautiful television anchors, and calculating corporate barons provide complex and engaging scenery: imagine Washington in the space age, with nonstop action and cool technology.
“Ranks up there with Mars as one of Bova’s very best.” —St. Petersburg Times
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjection; the last arguments to which kings resort.
— PATRICK HENRY
MOONBASE CONTROL CENTER
The chief comm tech looked up sharply from her keyboard. "Try the backup."
"Already did," said the man at the console beside her. "No joy. Every frequency's dead."
The third communications technician, seated at the console on the chief's other side, tapped one keypad after another. His display screen showed nothing but streaks of meaningless hash.
"They did it," he confirmed. "They pulled the plug."
The other controllers and technicians left their own stations and drifted tensely, expectantly toward the communications consoles. Their consoles flickered and glowed, untended. The big electronic wallscreen that displayed all of Moonbase's systems hung above them as if nothing unusual was happening.
The chief pushed back her little wheeled chair slightly. "They did it right when they said they would, didn't they?"
"That's it, then," said the male comm tech. "We're at war."
No one replied. No one knew what to say. The knot of men and women stood there in uneasy silence. The only sounds were the low humming of the electronics consoles and the soft whisper of the air-circulation fans.
"I'd better pipe the word up to the boss," the chief technician muttered, reaching toward her keyboard. She started to peck at the keys.
"Shit!" she snapped. "I broke a fingernail."
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 116 HOURS 30 MINUTES
Douglas Stavenger stood at the crest of Wodjohowitcz Pass, listening to the silence. Inside the base there were always voices, human or synthesized, and the constant background hum of electrical machinery. Out here, up on the mountains that ringed the giant crater Alphonsus, he heard nothing but his own breathing — and the faint, comforting whir of the spacesuit's air-circulation fans.
Good noise, he thought, smiling to himself. When that noise stops, so does your breathing.
He had climbed down from the tractor near the spot where the plaque was, a small square of gold riveted onto the rock face, dedicated to his father:
On this spot Paul Stavenger chose to die, in order to save the men and women of Moonbase.
Doug had not driven up to the pass for the sake of nostalgia, however. He wanted to take a long, hard look at Moonbase. Not the schematic diagrams or electronic charts, but the real thing, the actual base as it stood beneath the uncompromising stars.
Everyone in the base thought they were safe and snug, dug into the side of the ringwall mountain they had named Yeager. Sheltered by solid rock, they had little fear of the dangers up on the airless surface, where the crater floor was bathed in hard radiation and the temperature could swing four hundred degrees between daylight and night, between sunshine and shadow.
But Doug saw how terribly vulnerable they all were. They had protected themselves against the forces of nature, true enough. But now they were threatened with destruction by the hand of war.
Doug looked out at the solar farm, thousands of acres of dark solar cells that greedily drank in sunlight and converted it noiselessly into the electricity the base needed the way a man needs blood. They could be blown to dust by conventional explosives, or blasted into uselessness by the radiation pulse from a nuclear warhead.
Even easier, he realized, an enemy could knock out the radiators and we'd all stew underground in our own waste heat until we either surrendered or collapsed from heat exhaustion.
His eyes travelled to the rocket pads. They were empty now that the morning's lunar transfer vehicle had loaded up and departed. Beyond, he saw the geodesic dome that sheltered the construction pad; inside it, a half-built Clippership was being assembled by virus-sized nanomachines that converted meteoric carbon dust into hard, strong structure of pure diamond. How could we protect spacecraft sitting out on the pads? We can't shelter them and we don't have the facilities to bring them underground. That dome is no protection against missiles or even bullets.
He looked farther out across the crater floor, to where the mass launcher stretched its lean dark metallic finger to the horizon. A single warhead could wreck it forever, Doug knew.
Well, we can't beat them in a shooting war, he told himself. That's certain.
Turning his gaze back to the edge of the solar farm, Doug saw the dark slick-looking film on the ground where the nanomachines were busily converting the silicon and metals of the lunar regolith into more solar cells.
That's what this war is all about, he knew. Nanomachines. And he thought he could feel the trillions of nanos inside his own body.
If I go back to Earth I'll be a marked man. Some crackpot nanoluddite will murder me, just the way they've killed so many others. But if the only way to avert this war is to close Moonbase, where else can I go?
His mind churning, he turned again and looked down at the deep pit that would one day be Moonbase's grand plaza. If we ever get to finish it.
All construction jobs begin by digging a hole in the ground, he said to himself. It doesn't make any difference if you're on the Moon or the Earth.
Under the brilliant illumination of powerful lamps spaced around the edge of the pit, front-loaders were working soundlessly in the lunar vacuum, scooping up dirt and dumping their loads onto the waiting trucks. Clouds of fine lunar dust hung over the machines, scattering the lamplight like fog. The first time I've seen mist on the Moon, Doug mused. Not a molecule of water in that haze, though.
All of the machinery was controlled by operators sitting safely inside their stations at the control center. Only a handful of construction workers were actually out on the floor of the crater Alphonsus.
I should be inside, too, Doug told himself. The deadline comes up right about now. I ought to be inside facing the music instead of out here, trying to avoid it all.
In the seven years of his exile on the Moon, Doug had always come out to the lunar surface when he had a problem that ached in him. The Moon's harsh, airless otherworldliness concentrated his mind on the essentials: life or death, survival or extinction. He never failed to be thrilled by the stark grandeur of the lunar landscape. But now he felt fear, instead. Fear that Moonbase would be closed, its potential for opening the space frontier forever lost. Fear that he would have to return to the Earth, where fanatic assassins awaited him.
And anger, deep smoldering anger that men would threaten war and destruction in their ignorant, blind zeal to eradicate Moonbase.
Simmering inside, Doug turned back to the tractor and climbed up to its bare metal driver's seat. The ground here along the pass was rutted by years of tractors' cleats clawing through the dusty lunar regolith. He himself had driven all the way around these softly rounded mountains, circumnavigating the crater; not an easy trek, even in a tractor. Alphonsus was so big its ringwall mountains disappeared beyond the short lunar horizon. The jaunt had taken almost a week, all of it spent inside a spacesuit that smelled very ripe by the time he came home again. But Doug had found the peace and inner tranquility he had sought, all alone up on the mountaintops.
Not today. Even out here there was no peace or tranquility for him.
Once he reached the crater floor he looked beyond the uncompromising slash of the horizon and saw the Earth hanging in the dark sky, glowing blue and decked with streams of pure white clouds. He felt no yearning, no sense of loss, not even curiosity. Only deep resentment, anger. Burning rage. The Moon was his true home, not that distant deceitful world where violence and treachery lurked behind every smile.
And he realized that the anger was at himself, not the distant faceless people of Earth. I should have known it would come to this. For seven years they've been putting the pressure on us. I should have seen this coming. I should have figured out a way to avoid an outright conflict.
He parked the tractor and walked along the side of the construction pit, gliding in the dreamlike, floating strides of the Moon's low gravity. Turning his attention back to the work at hand, Doug saw that the digging was almost finished. They were nearly ready to start the next phase of the job. The tractors were best for the heavy work, moving large masses of dirt and rock. Now the finer tasks would begin, and for that the labs were producing specialized nanomachines.
He wondered if they would ever reach that stage. Or would the entire base be abandoned and left suspended in time, frozen in the airless emptiness of infinity? Worse yet, the base might be blasted, bombed into rubble, destroyed for all time.
It can't come to that! I won't let that happen. No matter what, I won't give them an excuse to use force against us.
"Greetings and felicitations!" Lev Brudnoy's voice boomed through Doug's helmet earphones.
Startled out of his thoughts, Doug looked up and saw Brudnoy's tall figure approaching, his spacesuit a brilliant cardinal red. The bulky suits smothered individual recognition, so long-time Lunatics tended to personalize their suits for easy identification. Even inside his suit, though, Brudnoy seemed to stride along in the same gangly, loose-jointed manner he did in shirtsleeves.
"Lev — what are you doing here?"
"A heartwarming greeting for your stepfather."
"I mean ... oh, you know what I mean!"
"Your mother and I decided to come up now, in case there's trouble later on."
Nodding inside his helmet, Doug agreed, "Good thinking. They might shut down flights here for a while."
"How is the suit?" Brudnoy asked.
Doug had forgotten that he was wearing the new design. "Fine," he said absently, his attention still on the digging.
"Do the gloves work as well as my engineers promised me they would?" Brudnoy asked, coming up beside Doug.
Holding out a hand for the Russian to see, Doug slowly closed his fingers. He could feel the vibration of the tiny servomotors as they moved the alloy "bones" of the exoskeleton on the back of his hand.
"I haven't tried to crush any rocks with them," Doug said, half in jest.
"But the pressure is not uncomfortable?" Brudnoy asked. "You can flex your fingers easily?"
Nodding again, Doug replied, "About as easily as you can in regular gloves."
"Ahh," Brudnoy sighed. "I had hoped for much better."
"This is just the first shot, Lev. You can improve it, I'm sure."
"Yes, there is always room for improvement."
The suit Doug wore was a cermet hard shell from boots to helmet; even the joints at the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists were overlapping circles of cermet. The ceramic-metal material was strong enough to hold normal shirtsleeve-pressure air inside the suit, even though the pressure outside was nothing but hard vacuum. Thus the suit operated at normal air pressure, instead of the low-pressure mix of oxygen and nitrogen that the standard spacesuits required. No prebreathing was needed with the new design; you could climb into it and button up immediately.
The gloves were always a problem. They tended to balloon even in the low-pressure suits. Doug's gloves were fitted with spidery exoskeleton struts and tiny servomotors that amplified his natural strength, so he could grasp and work even though the gloves would have been too stiff for him to use without their aid.
"Maybe we could lower the pressure in the gloves," Doug suggested.
"We would have to put a cuff around your wrist to seal —"
"Priority message." The words crackled in their earphones. "Priority message for Douglas Stavenger."
Tapping at the keypad built into the wrist of his spacesuit, Doug said, "This is Stavenger." He was surprised at how dry his throat suddenly felt. He knew what the message would be.
"All frequencies from the L-1 commsat have been cut off," said the chief communications technician. "Communications directly from Earth have also been stopped."
Doug's heart began hammering inside him. He looked at Brudnoy, but all he could see was the reflection of his own faceless helmet in the gold tint of the Russian's visor.
Swallowing hard, Doug said, "Okay. Message received. Thank you."
He waited a beat, then added, "Please find Jinny Anson for me."
An instant later the former base director's voice chirped in his earphones, "Anson here."
"Jinny, it's Doug. I need to talk with you, right away."
"I know," she said, her voice sobering.
"Where are you?"
"In the university office."
"Please meet me in my place in fifteen minutes."
Doug turned and started along the edge of the construction pit, heading for the airlock in swift, gliding strides. Brudnoy kept pace beside him.
"It's started," he said.
"I'll inform your mother," said the Russian.
With a bitter smile, Doug replied, "She already knows, I'm sure. They couldn't declare war on us without her knowing about it."
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 115 HOURS 55 MINUTES
"So they've done it," said Jinny Anson, with a challenging grin. "Damn flatheads."
Anson, Brudnoy and Doug's mother Joanna were sitting before Doug's desk. Anson was leaning back in her webbed chair almost casually. Wearing comfortable faded denim jeans and an open-collar velour blouse, she looked vigorous and feisty, her short-cropped hair still golden blond, her steel-gray eyes snapping with barely suppressed anger.
Joanna seemed calm, but Doug knew that her composed expression masked an inner tension. She had let her shoulder-length hair go from ash blond to silver gray, but otherwise she looked no more than forty. She was dressed elegantly, as usual: a patterned coral skirt, its hem slightly weighted to make it drape properly in the soft lunar gravity, and a crisply tailored white blouse buttoned at the throat and wrists, where jewelry sparkled.
Seated between the two women was Brudnoy, his long face with its untidy gray beard looking somber, his baggy eyes on Doug. Brudnoy's dark turtleneck and unpressed denims seemed almost shabby next to his wife's impeccable ensemble. His gray lunar softboots were faded and shiny from long use.
Although Doug's office was little larger than a cubbyhole carved out of the ringwall mountain's flank, its walls were smart screens from padded tile floor to smoothed rock ceiling, flat high-definition digital display screens that could be activated by voice or by the pencil-sized laser pointer resting on Doug's desk.
Doug kept one eye on the screen covering the wall to the left of his desk; it was scrolling a complete checkout of Moonbase's entire systems. He needed to reassure himself that everything was operating normally. The other two walls could have been showing videos of any scenery he wanted, but Doug had them displaying the security camera views of the base, switching every ten seconds from one tunnel to another and then to the outside, where the teleoperated tractors were still working in the pit as if nothing had happened. The wall behind him was blank.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Moonwar"
Copyright © 1998 Ben Bova.
Excerpted by permission of RosettaBooks.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
PART I — SKIRMISH,
MOONBASE CONTROL CENTER,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 116 HOURS 30 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 115 HOURS 55 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 114 HOURS 35 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 114 HOURS,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 113 HOURS 22 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 112 HOURS 17 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 112 HOURS,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 111 HOURS 48 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 110 HOURS 7 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 109 HOURS,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 108 HOURS 57 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 96 HOURS,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 95 HOURS 54 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 95 HOURS 20 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 93 HOURS 45 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 90 HOURS 11 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 63 HOURS 29 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 38 HOURS 30 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 27 HOURS 51 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 20 HOURS,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 17 HOURS 38 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 12 HOURS 22 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 11 HOURS 45 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 9 HOURS 45 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 8 HOURS 57 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 6 HOURS 11 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 4 HOURS 4 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 2 HOURS 38 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 1 HOUR 57 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 32 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN MINUS 15 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 23 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 38 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 51 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 59 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 1 HOUR 11 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 1 HOUR 24 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 1 HOUR 45 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 2 HOURS 6 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 2 HOURS 11 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 3 HOURS 25 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 4 HOURS 48 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 8 HOURS 3 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 12 HOURS 26 MINUTES,
TOUCHDOWN PLUS 12 HOURS 52 MINUTES,
PART II — SIEGE,
PART III — BATTLE,
SPACE STATION MASTERSON,
BASE DIRECTOR'S OFFICE,
THE WHITE HOUSE,
UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS,
PLASMA VENT TUNNEL,
ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL CENTER,
Exclusive Author Essay
I grew up in the narrow streets and row houses of South Philadelphia, in a blue-collar neighborhood where the richest guy we kids knew was a petty Mafioso who ran the local numbers racket. One day in 1941 we were taken out of our junior high school classroom and packed into a bus. Our teachers told us we were going to visit the city's science museum. We all groaned and griped, but in those days of iron discipline we had no choice but to go to the museum. It was called the Franklin Institute (in Philadelphia nearly everything is named after either Ben Franklin or William Penn) Science Museum. Dullsville, we thought.
They took us into a round auditorium with a domed roof and made us sit -- quietly, or else. In the middle of this planetarium was some kind of machine that looked like a giant black ant. (This was long before sci-fi movies that featured giant insects, by the way.) I noticed that the lights were getting dimmer and dimmer. In a few minutes it was completely dark. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face. Scary. A man's soft tenor voice started telling us that it's difficult to see the stars from the streets of the city. To really the stars, you have to be way out in the country, or maybe on a ship in the middle of the ocean. "Then," he said calmly, "you can see the stars in all their true splendor." With that, he turned on the planetarium projector (the giant ant). Thousands of stars suddenly appeared above us. We all gasped.
The planetarium director had turned on the stars. He turned me on, too. In that instant of wonder and beauty I got hooked on astronomy. It was the turning point in my life. I returned to the museum on my own. The director, Dr. I. M. Levitt, became a friend, a mentor. Through him I learned that there were people who wanted to build rockets that could take us to the Moon and worlds beyond. I found that there were futuristic stories of what it would be like to go into space. I became interested in astronautics at a time when "flying to the Moon" was regarded as the ultimate impossibility, and science fiction was disdained as cheap pulp trash.
I began to write my own stories about the future, trying always to base them solidly on the known scientific facts of the day. In 1959, when I sold my first science fiction novel, the editors were so impressed with the astronomical background of the story that they asked me to write a nonfiction book about astronomy. While I wrote fiction and nonfiction books, I also worked on the first American program to launch an artificial satellite into orbit, Vanguard, two years before the creation of NASA. Later, I edited Analog Science Fiction magazine, and then Omni -- all because of that mandatory class trip to the Franklin Institute and I. M. Levitt. In 1972 I had the great joy of dedicating one of my nonfiction books to him, The Amazing Laser.
Today, more than 100 books later, I am still writing about the marvelous future that awaits us in space, still basing my fiction on the latest scientific discoveries. In novels such as Mars, Moonwar, and The Precipice, I am taking readers on a Grand Tour of the solar system, showing how the human race will expand through the solar system in the coming years. In my nonfiction books, such as The Story of Light, I try to show how our growing understanding of science helps us to live longer, healthier, more productive lives.
It's a never-ending quest. The first novel I ever wrote, in 1949, was never published because publishers thought its plot too odd: It was based on the idea that the Russians go into space before the U.S. does, so the Americans launch a crash program to get American astronauts to the Moon before the Russians get there -- too crazy for publishers in 1949. Twenty years later, Armstrong and Aldrin won the space race for the U.S. It took the real world 20 years to catch up with my science fiction. Now, when I start a new project, I wonder if I can finish the book before the scientists beat me to the punch.
Writing about science and the future is exciting, and great fun. I hope reading about it is, too. (Ben Bova)
An Interview with Ben Bova
On March 3, 1998, Barnes & Noble.com welcomed Ben Bova to discuss MOONWAR.
Moderator from barnesandnoble.com:
Jo from Croydon: What is the book about?
Ben Bova: MOONWAR is a continuation of the story begun in MOONRISE, about the first men and women to live on the Moon their lives, their loves, the hopes and dangers that they share.
Nelson from Flint, MI: How necessary is it to read the first book in the series? Will I be lost if I pick up MOONWAR and haven't read MOONRISE?
Ben Bova: No, MOONWAR can stand by itself quite nicely. But you'd be missing a good story if you skip MOONRISE!
Bryan from St. Louis, MO: Do you ever see nanotechnology becoming a reality? Or at least micro-sized robots assembling matter? Thanks! I love the Moonrise series....
Ben Bova: Delighted that you're enjoying the Moonbase Saga. Nanotechnology research is proceeding in the U.S. and several other nations. It will be reality within a decade or so, I believe.
Russ from Bosnia: Why did you start writing science fiction novels?
Ben Bova: I have been interested in science -- especially astronomy and astronautics -- since childhood. I have worked with scientists much of my life. So I write about what I know best and love best.
Rory from Florida: Hey Ben, I have two questions for you 1)How do you overcome writers' block? 2)What is your favorite book to read? Thanks a bunch!!!!
Ben Bova: As far as I can see, writer's block only happens when you can get somebody else to pay your bills. That's never happened to me. My favorite book is usually the one I'm reading at the moment; right now, it's a biography of Julius Caesar...and an Ed McBain police novel.
John from JWC901@aol.com: Do you really see the United Nations still in existence in the far future?
Ben Bova: I think some form of world government is inevitable, whether it's called the UN or something else. Read the epigram at the beginning of MOONWAR.
Rory from Florida: Ben, two more questions 1)What are your future plans for writing? 2)Do you think that in the future, MOONWAR will happen? I mean, will the virus-sized robots become a reality? Thanks again -) -) -) -)
Ben Bova: I have a nonfiction book titled IMMORTALITY coming out in September. Current biomedical research has convinced me that people alive today will never die from old age. Nanomachines are on the way, along with many other breakthroughs in biology.
Constantine Cruz from San Juan, PR: Any chance we will see MOONWAR on the big screen? Who would you like to see as the young Douglas Stavenger?
Ben Bova: People in Hollywood are looking at MOONWAR, and the first book of the Saga, MOONRISE. I haven't the faintest idea of who could play Stavenger. It's tough writing these stories; don't expect me to cast them, too!
Danius R. from Lafayette, IN: Who are some of your favorite sci-fi authors?
Ben Bova: Most of 'em are dead Alfred Bester, Fritz Leiber, Robert Heinlein. Then there's Arthur Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Spider Robinson, Connie Willis...it's a long, long list.
Bradley from Santa Cruz, CA: How would you describe your experience as editor of Analog magazine?
Ben Bova: Great fun. But it kept me from writing!
Danius R. from Lafayette, IN: Tell there Mr. Bova; what do you think about the current state of science fiction? Do you read a lot of sci-fi?
Ben Bova: Frankly, I don't read as much SF as I once did, but that's mostly because there's so much nonfiction I have to read to stay current in modern scientific research. SF as a publishing category is doing very well, although it seems to me that the kind of SF I write -- "hard" SF -- is dwindling.
Ted from Aurora, CA: I read that you predicted a bunch of things that ended up really happening. Can you make a few predictions of the future as we close in on the next century?
Ben Bova: Please read EMPIRE BUILDERS, MOONRISE, MOONWAR, DEATH DREAM, BROTHERS, CYBERBOOKS, and THE STARCROSSED. There are enough predictions in there to fill the next century pretty nicely.
Nicolas from Greensboro, NC: Do you still teach?
Ben Bova: I don't teach classes, but I do give lectures.
Gregory from Tucson, AZ: What gives you such insight into the future? Is it research? Psychic vision?
Ben Bova: Research...and some understanding of the way people behave. I don't believe in psychic vision.
Bevon from Tennessee: What motivated you to write your newest book?
Ben Bova: The Moonbase Saga (MOONRISE and now MOONWAR) began when I saw the foundations of the old Fort Pitt in the middle of modern Pittsburgh. Here was an outpost on the frontier that grew into a huge industrial city. That was the beginning of Moonbase, in my mind.
Tony from St. Paul, MN: What inspired your creation of nanotechnology? What did you base this on?
Ben Bova: Nanotechnology is the brainchild of Erik Drexler and, before him, Richard Feynman. Many other researchers are now working on it.
Toby from York, PA: How does one research a book like MOONWAR?
Ben Bova: That's like asking how high is up. It would take hours, maybe days, to go into the details.
Bradley from Santa Fe, NM: Do you think that there is a huge difference between the science fiction being written today versus the past sci-fi? Do you think we hit a peak in the '50s and '60s?
Ben Bova: Yes, I think there is a difference, mostly an improvement in writing quality. The old "gee whiz" is largely gone, but it has been replaced by reality. We are really exploring the solar system and working in space now.
Andy from New York, NY: What are a few of your favorite sci-fi movies? Have you seen any flick or read any sci-fi book that you really enjoyed?
Ben Bova: Sure, I've enjoyed plenty of SF books -- and a few movies that call themselves "sci-fi." My favorite SF movie is "The Man in the White Suit," starring Alec Guinness. It was made in 1950, and it is one of the very few movies that is actually science fiction, not comic-strip stupidities.
Benjamin from Oregon: What is it about space that strikes a chord so often with science fiction writers? What special inspiration does space hold for you?
Ben Bova: The thrill of exploration, the lure of the unknown, and the possibility of making this Earth a better place by using the resources and energies we find in space to enrich our home world. Moreover, once we establish self-sufficient communities off-Earth, then even a calamity that wipes out all life on Earth will not kill off the human race. That's something!
Joseph from Santa Monica, CA: Will you be doing any readings/signings for this book? Will you be coming to the West Coast?
Ben Bova: I'll be in the L.A. area next week! Please look at my Web site on sff.net to get my schedule.
Mark from NYC: What do you think about John Glenn's decision to return to space?
Ben Bova: Terrific! If Glenn can do it, why can't tourists ride into orbit? Start saving your pennies for a vacation in zero gravity!
Ned from Washington DC: I read recently that the U.S. mission to the Moon in 1969, à la "Wag the Dog," was a televised special event and was completely staged in Hollywood -- it never actually happened. We were just trying to one-up the Russians. Is there any shred of truth to this, or just another Internet conspiracy theory on the loose?
Ben Bova: Not a shred of truth. I know some of the guys who walked on the Moon. And you can see and touch Moon rocks, if you go to the Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C.
John from Plano, TX: Predicting the future is such a gamble; I am curious to know how you have such success with your predicitions. Also, do you foresee anything like MOONWAR happening in the far future.
Ben Bova: You can predict the future pretty well if you know what's happening in research labs today -- and how people behave (especially politicians). Yes, we could have a situation such as I describe in MOONWAR, but not in the far future; about another 25-30 years, I think.
Howie from Englewood CLiffs, NJ: Who are your literary influences?
Ben Bova: I think you'd have to ask a critic that one. I can tell you who I enjoy reading the list includes Shakespeare, Dashiell Hammett, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Omar Khayyam, a flock of poets, including Robert Frost, and many, many,many more.
Ric from Metaire, LA: Do you think modern technology will ever reach the points seen in MOONWAR? I mean come on, do you really believe people living today with modern biology will never die?
Ben Bova: Yes, and yes.
Earl from Hollywood, FL: Do you think that writing is your true love, or is it technology?
Ben Bova: Writing. I can use technology, but I can create stories.
Mark from NYC: What is the most fun aspect of writing the Moonbase Saga?
Ben Bova: The most fun in writing any story is getting it finished. Writing is hard work, and the only real satisfaction you get out of it is when it's finished and it's close to what you had hoped it would be at the outset. Of course, talking with people like you, who apparently enjoy my work, is fun -- but of a different kind.
David Sachs from Manhasset, NY: What toys did you play with as a child? I ask this of every science fiction writer I encounter. The answers often give insight into their writing. Thanks for answering!
Ben Bova: We didn't have much in the way of toys when I was a kid, growing up in South Philadelphia during the Great Depression. But I liked airplanes then and still do.
Theodore J. Holder from Boston, MA: Do you get a sense that the layman's interest in space and space exploration is waning? Do kids care about space anymore?
Ben Bova: No, I think interest is on the upswing, with the Mars Pathfinder, the start of putting the International Space Station into orbit, the ongoing Mir story, etc. Kids do care. And investors are putting billions of dollars into private space ventures. We've only just begun!
Earl from Lexington, KY: When can we expect the latest in the series?
Ben Bova: MOONWAR is the latest in the Moonbase Saga. MOONRISE was the first book of the Saga. Give me a little time to get the next one going!
Oscar H. from Gerard, NM: I hear that they are overhauling the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Are they adding any new capabilities that will allow it to assist in developing space communitites in the future? Like, a seat for me? =)
Ben Bova: Not in the shuttle, but the next generation of boosters, which will be flying in five to ten years, will open the way for tourists in space. In part, that's what I've been writing about in MOONRISE and MOONWAR.
Hugh Davies from Jenkinstown, PA: What is your opinion of the publishing industry? OK, how about the Mir project? Now there's two very different questions in one place, huh?
Ben Bova: The publishing industry and Mir are both antiquated. We're building a new space station -- the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency, and the Japanese, that is. But the publishing industry changes its ways very slowly. Read my novel CYBERBOOKS.
Daniel from NYC: Did you ever write any young adult novels? I remember reading one when I was a kid about a group of children who lived in a city that was like a prison. I can't remember the details, but I loved the book.
Ben Bova: The novel was called CITY OF DARKNESS, and it is included in my paperback collection FUTURE CRIME.
Moderator from barnesandnoble.com: Thank you for joining us online. Do you have any closing comments?
Ben Bova: Thanks, it has been great fun. I hope you all enjoy my work.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It is my new favorite book.It has some hard laungue but is A very good book.