It’s 2024, and Texas inventor Jim Lowe is doing a routine, low-orbit satellite repair when disaster strikes. A Chinese satellite slips from its orbit and into another satellite and so on and so forth, causing a chain reaction that disrupts communication around the globe. Before he can register what’s happening, Jim is engulfed in a storm of shrapnel puncturing his spacesuit and skin.
Back on Earth, NASA’s newest administrator Richard Freed is arriving for his first day of work. The once-lauded space agency is now an empty shell, and Freed has been commissioned to bring it back to glory. Before he can get through the gate and introduce himself, the catastrophe in space puts NASA into lockdown. No sooner is he inside than he’s rushed to the White House.
Meanwhile, just before the whole world briefly goes black, selenologist (lunar scientist) Christine Uy gets a computer printout from the dark side of the moon. The area has never been explored by humans, except now there are bootprints. And by pure coincidence, like the errant satellite, they are also Chinese. Soon she too is on her way to a meeting with the president.
Was the satellite collision an accident, or a means of hiding their lunar activities? If the Chinese are occupying the moon, they are in violation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 (a real document). With U.S. satellites down, the country is basically running blind and has only one option—go back to the moon. But with NASA woefully unprepared, Freed and Uy have to turn to Freed’s old rival Jim Lowe for help. The group is rounded out by an expert in small nuclear bombs and a military assassin who prefers yoga to killing. What they find when they land has the potential to reshape the global economy or start World War III.
Still, nothing is as simple as it seems. Does the U.S. government know more than it told them? Are the Chinese really the villains, or just players in a global conspiracy? Who can you trust when you’re over 200,000 miles away from home? Neither “hard” science fiction nor a political thriller, Crisis Moon is strictly an adventure story. No extraterrestrials appear; it’s not that sort of tale, though our heroes are equipped with awesome “moon daggers.”
Author Michael McGruber is a former Hollywood screenwriter, and he brought his entire toolkit when building this novel. It’s not difficult to imagine Matt Damon and Will Smith starring in the PG-13 film that plays out on the pages. While some readers will doubtless roll their eyes at the glorification of American free enterprise, others will be reminded of the movies of the 1940s and 1950s that celebrated the same. Though not without its flaws, and in need of a tighter edit, the story holds its own for those who always dreamed of walking on the moon. (Hosel & Ferrule Books)