I’d have to place Hurricane Moon squarely into the ‘not what I was expecting’ category. The book description sounds really good: the last hope for humanity, several thousand colonists leave Earth in cold-sleep to find and establish a new colony on an Earth-like world, moon required. They eventually find two world sized planets orbiting each other. One has an abundance of land, “Green”, and one is mostly water, covered with hurricanes, “Blue”. However, the effects of cold-sleep have caused tremendous damage to the colonists’ genes, and it’s up to brilliant microbiologist Joseph Devreze to fix it.
Ms. Latner has written several short-stories, mostly of the hard SF variety. Because of this, and the description, I was expecting more of an emphasis on the science, especially with respect to “Blue” than what I found.
There planet “Blue” dominates the background of this story, raising several interesting questions: What, exactly is it? How did it get to be where it is and why? How does it affect the colonists in the manner in which it does? All of these questions are either ultimately explained away very quickly, or with nothing approaching believability, to me, at all. The mystery of “Blue’s” existence is wrapped up in a very Star Trek: The Next Generation manner. The clues are fairly sparse, but finally come to together to form a conclusion near the end of the book. This conclusion opens up a whole host of other questions which the colonists seem intent on ignoring. The questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ were unsatisfactorily answered, and “Blue” just didn’t seem to receive the attention it deserved. As for the affects “Blue” had on the colonists, the explanation bordered on the mystical, which really bugged me. As it seemed out of place in the story, I didn’t buy into it.
The other area of praise that Hurricane Moon has received is in the characters and their relationships. This, to me, was the low point of the book. After reaching “Green”, the book becomes embroiled in the trials and tribulations, relationship-wise, of the characters on the surface. Aside from the odd exploratory mission or speculation about “Blue”, I had to force myself to through the middle part of the book. The big problem I had was in Joseph Devreze. For someone who is supposedly as brilliant as he is, he certainly whined and moped around quite a bit. He reminded me of the character of Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion, someone who spends the entire story whining about his situation rather than moving on. And you’d think that 1000 light-years from Earth, whatever problems you brought with you, you’d be able to move past. I just didn’t see why any of the female characters in the book would even be interested in a self-centered whiner like Devreze. Hurricane Moon focuses a lot on the relationships, unbelieveable as they were to me. Too much focus in my opinion when there were more interesting, compelling things to explore. I’m not against character oriented stories, The Wreck of the River of Stars comes to mind, but at least make the lynchpin character sympathetic. Couple that with Joseph’s ‘genius’ suddenly leaving him, thus leaving the fate of the colony in doubt, and we end up with a Deus Ex Machina resolution, involving “Blue” somehow, Devreze’s problem. Totaly unexpected and, for someone who is lauded for their hard SF writing, very bothersome.
That’s not to say it’s all disappointing. It isnt’. The opening 100 or so pages, as the colony ship leaves Earth for the first target, is very good. Latner’s depiction of slower than light colonization felt realistic, as did the problems the crew would face on such a journey. When they reach their destination and find things aren’t as they need to be, a debate ensues whether to stay, or take a risk and cross a large void in search of another planet but put the colonists at risk of spending too much time in cold-sleep. Everything in this section was excellent, including the characters acting as you’d think they would. Even when they reach “Green”, things didn’t go down hill for me until after a shuttle crashes on “Green”. It’s the explanation for this crash, tying into the ‘mystical’ powers of “Blue” that started bothering me. Also, “Blue” itself is very intruiging. I could see an entire story based soley on discover the hows and whys of its existence. Unfortunately, Hurricane Moon isn’t that story.
I was expecting something more, something different than what I read. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, it’s just not my cup of tea. In hindsight, this is not a book I would have picked up and read had I known more about it. As it is, there is just enough interesting things here, and a stellar opening, to make it, overall, readable, but short of my expectations.