Gunpowder Moon - David Pedreira

**** Conspiracy on the Moon

Before reading a novel, it’s spontaneous to look at the cover and, based on the image and the possible slogan, get a vague idea of ​​the plot. And it’s nice that at least in part this idea is respected, otherwise there is the risk of running into something that you didn’t want to read at all. Too bad that what the cover of “Gunpowder Moon” suggests has nothing to do with the content of the book. You can see the helmet of a space suit with a hole on the visor, while the suit of another astronaut is visible in the reflection, all in a lunar environment. Furthermore, the slogan refers to an elusive “first murder on the Moon”.
If you expect to “see” (with the eyes of your mind) within the novel the villain shooting off and therefore killing someone in a lunar landscape, you will be disappointed. Someone is actually killed, but nobody shoots them. And the same word “murder” used in the slogan suggests something much more personal than a malicious explosion that causes the death of a character due to exposure to vacuum. For the latter situation the most appropriate word is attack. The fact that behind all this there is a conspiracy whose purpose is to unleash a war in our satellite highlights how the murder is a marginal topic within the novel, to say the least.
The problem with these marketing choices by publishers (and in this case we’re talking about Harper Collins) is that they attract the wrong readers and repel the right ones.
“Gunpowder Moon” is actually a hard science fiction novel with military and political implications, set in a fairly pessimistic (almost post-apocalyptic) future. There is some excellent action scene, like the one that makes up the climax of the novel. The scientific part related to the Moon is quite accurate (with the necessary licences) and interesting, and is well supported by an evocative prose. The author is very good at world building, although I don’t appreciate such a pessimistic view of the future. In addition, the main character, Dechert, is not bad at all, despite some elements that tend to make it slip into a cliché.
But, apart from the completely wrong marketing choices, perhaps the only real problem with this book is the slow pace. You find yourself reading long scenes with long dialogues and reflections of the protagonist, in which something happens only in the last page and then they are interrupted at the end of the chapter (usually consisting of one or maximum two scenes) in order to induce the reader to read the next one (something that I find extremely irritating). In the first half of the book I think I have counted five events in all that carry on the story, and obviously the scenes are many more than five. I was often surprised to realise that I wanted the chapter to end, so that I could stop reading and move on to the other book I was reading in the same period. And this is not a good thing.
There is a slight acceleration in the second part, even if some flashbacks that add nothing to the story or really to the characterisation of the tormented protagonist (I had already understood what type of character he was) managed to break my concentration in reading and to make me decide to stop.
In short, I had the impression of reading a longer book than it actually is.
The climax, however, as I said before, is excellent. The identity of the villain was not difficult to understand, but the author had some great ideas on how to get the main characters out of trouble.
In the epilogue, unfortunately, the pace goes down again and the author once again gives in to the temptation to make use of too many explanations.

What saves everything, including my judgment, is the last page. Obviously I cannot mention anything about it, except that it gives a certain satisfaction.

Gunpowder Moon on Amazon.