It's by David S. 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 three or four 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 there.
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 strange stone wall. And the lack of continuing competition between the Soviets and us was likely the most significant factor in the fizzling of our own efforts in space. Forty years later, and we have 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 the crash of the entire program.
Red Moon provides some breath-taking science fiction answers.
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 Silk Code, for me to autograph. Then he pulled a 600-page book out of his backpack, and asked me to please accept it, as a gift.
I wasn't sure what to say. First, traveling 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 acquisition lists.
And so, nothing more happened with Dave Michaels' Red Moon. 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 Edward Maret, which is #2 on the list. Wen Spencer's Alien Taste and Larry Ketchersid's Dusk Before Dawn are there, too.)
Amazon now has an "out of print" sign on Dave Michaels' Red Moon page. (I also have a reader review of the novel there.)
Now that I'm thinking about the book again, I'm going to do once more what I can — in a hopefully more successful attempt — to help get it published.
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.Powered by Sidelines