RARA-AVIS: Algis Budrys, Rogue Moon

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 05 Jan 2004

Someone recommend this as a noirish SF novel:

  Algis Budrys, ROGUE MOON (1959) (aka THE DEATH MACHINE (2001);

Turned out I'd had a copy sitting in my to-be-read pillar for about three years, so I got out it last month and read it. I can see why it was suggested, but I found it only middling.

It's the story of a project to investigate a strange object found on the moon. (People get there and back by making remote copies of their bodies, similar to Brin's KILN PEOPLE, but their minds stay meshed.) The lunar object, left by aliens, has been killing everyone who enters it, and the Earthbound original people go mad. The lead scientist on the project talks to his personnel man, who knows the perfect man for the job, a death-defying adventurer who's flown planes, dived deep under the sea, raced cars, and more. He's a strange one, and so is his girlfriend. He can stand dying over and over and still keep on trying to solve the puzzle.

There's a weird relationship between these four people. They test and push and grate on each other. It reminded me of a David Goodis story that way. Much of the book is about death and madness, and though it involves trips to the moon, it feels very claustrophobic and constrained. I hope anyone who's read it will speak up about why they like it, because I never did get a real grip on it and I wouldn't rate it as high as many people do.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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