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A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke

A Fall of Moondust (original 1961; edition 2002)

by Arthur C Clarke

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1,104197,505 (3.7)49
Title:A Fall of Moondust
Authors:Arthur C Clarke
Info:Gollancz (2002), Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke (1961)



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Arthur C. Clarke is one of the best writers of hard science fiction and A Fall of Moondust is a tense but enjoyable rescue mission set on the Moon. Clarke creates a fully believable futuristic world in which humanity has colonised the Moon and tourist cruises run across its "seas". Herein is the story set as one of pleasure cruises suffers an accident as is trapped beneath the moon dust. Each problem is presented after the previous one is solved, keeping a brisk pace, and though the characters remain rather flat, the story keeps the reader reading onwards, hoping that the rescue is a success.

The science in A Fall of Moondust is somewhat dated, but Clarke admits that in the preface to the new edition. Nevertheless, the book is still enjoyable in spite of this, and remains an excellent example of classic hard sci-fi. ( )
  xuebi | May 30, 2014 |
Quality science fiction. No fantasy, no magic. ( )
  DeanClark | May 6, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Pat Harris is the captain of Selene, the only tour bus on the moon. Every day he and his stewardess, Sue Wilkins, take passengers on a trip across the moon's Sea of Thirst. This crater filled with moondust seems similar to a lake on Earth, and Selene, like a motorboat, smoothly skims across its surface. By the light of Mother Earth, Selene's passengers are entertained by glorious views of the moon's topography, including the impressive Mountains of Inaccessibility.

Pat Harris loves his job. Selene is an excellent dust cruiser, Pat enjoys skimming along the dust and delighting his passengers with the moon's views, and he has a secret crush on his stewardess. But Pat's and Sue's wits and characters will be severely tested when an unexpected moonquake shakes the Sea of Thirst and Selene sinks into the dust. Communications are cut off and nobody knows where they are. Now Selene's crew and passengers must work together to try to save themselves while scientists and technicians from Earth and the moon are frantically trying to locate them.

Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moondust is a science fiction thriller which was first published in 1961 and was nominated for a Hugo Award. I like Clarke's dramatic stories and his no-nonsense writing style and I love both SF and survival fiction, so I knew A Fall of Moondust would be a winner for me.

At only 224 pages (trade paperback) and 8 hours in audio, this was a short fast read with plenty of nail-biting tension and psychological drama. Plus, as Clarke fans will expect, lots of scientific ideas and hypotheses, too. Character development is a bit lacking, since the book is so short, but the insights we get about Pat Harris and Sue Wilkins, as their characters are tested in an ongoing life-threatening situation, are rewarding, and I was really rooting for them by the end of the story.

I read Brilliance Audio's version of A Fall of Moondust which was narrated by Oliver Wyman. This was the first time I've heard this narrator and I thought he was perfect. He did a great job with all the characters and his reading was enthusiastic without being overdramatic. He sucked me right into the story and I listened nearly straight through, finishing the novel on the day I started it.

A Fall of Moondust probably isn't for everyone, due to its quick pace and focus on survival rather than world-building or character development, but readers who like hard SF and survival stories will be very pleased. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
As a student of real disasters, this is an excellent book on a possible future disaster. Dramatic and realistic (within the science of the time) the details of the unfolding story hold up well, even with derailing by various side plots that have little to do with the problem at hand. Believable characters and situations, complete to real-time coverage of the protagonists' plight on interplanetary TV. Well worth reading. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 9, 2014 |
When I was in 7th grade, I discovered Jules Verne. I read several of his books, and fell in love with science fiction. I began reading Frank Herbert’s epic series beginning with Dune. I watched films such as Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still. I tackled the two volume story, When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. This last, by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, occupies one slot in the top five best SciFi thrillers. But the number one spot is firmly held by Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust.

I do not know how many years it has been since I last read Moondust, or Clarke, or even any SciFi for that matter, but Clarke’s novel seemed to be exactly what the librarian ordered. I have been searching for a hardback first edition with no luck, so all I have now is a worn and yellowed paper back from the 60s. Oh how the years have altered my reading habits! I wondered if this novel would stand the test of neglect I had imposed on it.

From the first page, Clarke’s brilliant and clever prose drew me in, but I began to notice a series of time stamps he had unwittingly written into his novel. His foresight was most definitely NOT 20/20. For example, I laugh when I watch Forbidden Planet and the captain lifts a microphone from a console with a retractable wire to address the crew. Likewise, Clarke did not imagine some things that would make us cringe today. Male characters notice, and comment on, physical characteristics of women.

Bu the most astounding thing I discovered involved the plot. As I was making notes for this review, I began to feel as if I recognized some of the characters. I began making a list, and suddenly, it dawned on me – the plot of Moondust had a remarkable resemblance to the 1972 film, The Poseidon Adventure, based on a novel by Paul Gallico, with a screenplay by Stirling Siliphant and Wendell Mayes.

Both involve a set of tourists, stranded in a boat after a natural disaster. Each story has a charismatic leader, who has the talent and confidence to lead the others to safety. In the final scene of the film, the survivors reach the stern of the capsized ship and bang on the floor/ceiling. A return thumping lets the survivors know of their imminent rescue. A similar situation occurs in Moondust.

I think I need to get a copy of Gallico’s novel and make a closer comparison. Unfortunately, Paul Gallico died in 1978, but research might reveal another reader who noticed the difference, or – better yet – an acknowledgment by Gallico of his inspiration. After all, if Irving Block could write a short story loosely based on Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, why couldn’t Gallico been inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust?

My next book club read is also science fiction, so I am glad I am easing into that work by returning to those wild days of my youth when Arthur C. Clarke thrilled and inspired me to write my first story of horses, about which I knew almost nothing, and alien abductions, about which I knew even less. Thankfully, that manuscript is long lost. But Clarke’s A Fall of Moondust has hung in there as my favorite work of science fiction. 5 stars

-Jim, 9/21/13 ( )
  rmckeown | Sep 21, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clarke, Arthur C.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellis, DeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Emmerová, JarmilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffiths, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Károly, AndrásCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuczka, PéterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nygren, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanderson, FatoşTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siegel, HalCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szentmihályi Szabó, PéterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westermayr, TonyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0575073179, Paperback)

Time is running out for the passengers and crew of the tourist cruiser Selene, incarcerated in a sea of choking lunar dust. On the surface, her rescuers find their resources stretched to the limit by the mercilessly unpredictable conditions of a totally alien environment. A brilliantly imagined story of human ingenuity and survival, A FALL OF MOONDUST is a tour-de-force of psychological suspense and sustained dramatic tension by the field's foremost author.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:05 -0400)

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SCIENCE FICTION. Time is running out for the passengers and crew of the tourist cruiser Selene, incarcerated in a sea of choking lunar dust. On the surface, her rescuers find their resources stretched to the limit by the pitiless and unpredictable conditions of a totally alien environment. A brilliantly imagined story of human ingenuity and survival, A Fall of Moondust is a tour-de-force of psychological suspense and sustained dramatic tension. "The best book yet about man's most dramatic journey, the most exciting science fiction novel for years." - Evening Standard "Expertly told and cruelly exciting to the end." ? Sunday Times "Extremely good . . . with some superbly ingenious and exciting new twists." ? Daily Express.… (more)

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