Ray Gun Reviews
SF/F reviews — and ray guns!

Moon Flights by Elizabeth Moon


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Moon Flights by Elizabeth Moon
Night Shade Books, 2009, 401pp.

A space station engineer trying to escape the shadow of her famous mother. A young man cast out into the world with only a wooden knife. A World War One admiral wrestling with a decision to defy orders so he can defeat the enemy. The chairman of a space habitat’s annual festival with unwelcome in-laws on the way. A stone-aged culture worried about items disappearing from the grave goods of their loved ones. A co-op of female warriors trying to find a way around a ridiculous tax on bronze bras.

Moon Flights is a collection of fifteen stories by Nebula-award winning author Elizabeth Moon. The stories reflect a twenty-year span of Moon’s writing and show the wide range of her talent. The anthology contains a nice mix of stories, with eight science-fiction tales, six fantasies, and one alternative history.

Four of the fantasies recount the adventures of the Ladies Aid and Armor Society, fun pieces of light fantasy first published in Esther Friesner’s Chicks in Chainmail and its sister volumes. The other two fantasies are more along the lines of classic fairy tales and are very well done.

“Tradition” puts us inside the head of British WWI Rear Admiral Sir Christopher George Francis Maurice Cradock on the night of an important decision that could have changed the course of the war. Even though I’m no World War One historian, I could certainly appreciate the weight of Cradock’s decision in this alternative history.

The science fiction in Moon’s anthology ranges from the surprisingly subtle, “If Nudity Offends You,” to the family drama set in space, “Accidents Don’t Happen — They’re Caused,” to the gritty military SF, “Politics.”

I have three personal favorites in the anthology. “Say Cheese” is set in the same universe as Moon’s Vatta’s War series. If there is such a subgenre as light hard SF, I think this story of the place of cheese in interstellar commerce fits in that category. “Hand to Hand” is a moving tale about the reasons to wage war and to make music. And then there’s the hard-to-describe “New World Symphony.” If I had to give a one-sentence summary, I would say that the story is about a musician contracted to compose music for newly discovered planets who longs for his freedom. But this story especially needs to be read in full to get the full experience.

I encourage all lovers of good stories to check out Elizabeth Moon’s Moon Flight. The stories show a good writer who has only become better over time. I look forward to reading much more from Ms. Moon’s pen.

(Reviewed by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt)

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