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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 18 July 2017
Have not received it
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on 2 April 2016
It’s 1959. An alien thing has been spotted on the far side of the moon. Fortunately, Doctor Edward Hawks has just invented a matter transporter, by means of which people can be beamed to the moon to investigate the thing. The thing kills them. So now Hawks has to find someone who doesn’t mind being killed, over and over again.

I originally read Budrys’ chamber piece in the early 1970s and was much impressed by the depth of characterisation and intelligent dialogue about life and death, power and responsibility. Coming back to it 40 years on, the dialogue feels contrived and often meaningless, particularly in the pointless chapters in which Hawks talks at (never with) his girlfriend, unintentionally revealing himself to be a self-obsessed narcissist. (And, yes, I know those chapters are only there to pad the novella out to just about novel length, but that’s hardly an excuse.) The technology of the matter transmitter is described in some detail to give the story a hard SF edge. From this we learn that, in order to beam someone to the moon, the nature and position of every atom in his body first has to be encoded on magnetic tape. In the 1970s this seemed fair enough; now it gives me a fit of the giggles. That’s got to be some big-ass tape spooling at near light speed yet somehow not breaking or catching fire from the friction!

To be fair, the characters are colourful and you care what happens to them; the description of the insides of the alien artefact, when it finally comes, is worth the wait, and there’s a nice (if guessable) twist at the end. But if you want a haunting story about super-advanced aliens leaving their lethal stuff littering our solar system (why aren’t they environmentally conscious enough to take their rubbish home with them?), I’d sooner point you in the direction of the Strugatsky brothers’ brilliant ‘Roadside Picnic’.
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on 24 May 2012
I liked this a lot, for pretty much all the reasons the previous reviewer disliked it, so your response to it will probably depend on how you peg your own tastes between the two perspectives.

It's anything but a slam-bang action story. It is, in every sense, an existential novel, about how to live in good faith in an utterly indifferent universe. If you're already recoiling, this is not the book for you. If you're intrigued, it's strongly recommended as a book which uses what's still an original SF idea to make an important point - and make it more effectively than mainstream novels could ever do. The plot isn't full of incident, but that's because the narrative is used to reflect and develop the ideas and characters in an unified manner. The characterisation is vivid and well-drawn, particularly in the context of SF of this vintage. On which point, the previous reviewer found this book dated. I felt the decision to set it in the year of publication (1959) was an effective way to prevent it from dating; the characters and technological speculation are of their time, so anachronisms don't get in the way of the themes, which are as relevant now as they were then. And the last chapter isn't a bit of tagged-on pulp action, but a sting in the tail which sharpens and clarifies everything that's come before.

It's not perfect: it does drag in places, and bits of the dialogue are overly theatrical. But for the most part it's a novel of great ambition which is largely realised, and, in its deep and unflinching look at human nature, a remarkable achievement from an author who was still in his late twenties when he wrote it. It sees SF as a genre capable of more than providing entertaining diversions (not that there's anything wrong with that) and is a highly honourable precursor of much of the good stuff to emerge from and follow the "New Wave" SF of the sixties.
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on 29 December 2012
This is an interesting novel which proved to be a bit of a page turner but I dont believe has much rereading value.

The overall story arc or plot is great, mysterious alien artifact on the moon which is killing all who investigate it and an equally intriguing device on earth for copying and transfering human beings. Not exactly clones or teleportations but shades of each idea associated with some vague but strange tape recording idea. These are the things which it is truly worth reading this novel for to be honest and the literary/plot devices which motivated me to read on.

There is a cast of characters who interact and whose interaction is meant to be pivotal to the whole progression of the narrative, I was able to tell that the author really did want to convey how group politics motivated the behaviour of the antagonists and protagonists. That said the dialogue is awful for the most part, not gripping at all and sometimes really dated, perhaps the characters seemed less one dimensional at the time of the original publication.

I bought this book for the idea that it would deal with the topic of death, death wishes, that sort of thing, while a lot of time is spent dealing with this idea because previous candidates for the transfer and exploration role have gone insane because of a kind of existential horror at experiencing their own deaths I was disappointed really. I didnt think much time was spent considering that the process of copying and transfering persons to the moon involved the creation and "death" already, although the telepathic, remote viewing/control idea is maybe not meant to involve that I couldnt see exactly how it would not.

Better than some books in the series and better than some of the more pulp fiction examples in the fantasy masterworks such as Black Gods And Scarlet Dreams (Fantasy Masterworks) but still not one I would highly recommend.

This narration is not first person, it is third person and I am aware that the books I've liked the most in the series are generally first person narratives so it could be a factor too.
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on 14 February 2016
It was SF author M John Harrison who recommended this book to me as one of his all-time favourites, so with an endorsement like that it had a lot to live up to and it did just that.

Other reviews have expressed disappointed at its dated technology, but give it a break it was written almost a decade before the manned moon landings. Indeed even if it was written now you would have to set in late 50s / early 60s as the technological state of the US and soviet space programmes is key to the plot.

Slight spoiler next - other reviewers have cavilled at the ultimate lack of explanations as to the purpose and origin of the structure found on the moon, but this really misses the point. The book really is really an exploration of how the technology they use to explore the structure affects the people involved, particularly the two main protagonists neither of whom are terribly sympathetic characters to begin with. We also get hints about how that tech may have affected the lives and psyche of many other often unnamed characters and there is more of a hint that it has been used to even more regrettable impact to one of the few sympathetic characters we meet.

I would say four and half out of five as some of the dialogue is a little laboured but I can’t do that so a 4.
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on 23 February 2014
Rogue Moon is a short science fiction novel, one of only a few novels written by Budrys. I haven't read any of his other material, so I came to this fresh.

Rogue Moon has a nice premise, and a good sci-fi hook, but it is really far more about characterisation than sic-fi. Don't expect explosions, laser guns and invading aliens: the sci-fi in this book lingers in the background, enough to hint at a darker universal force (who placed the maze? Why did they do so? etc) without being explicit. The main characters are beautifully realised, but it is not until the last few pages that the real sci-fi elements really come to the fore. This, at least for me, created an issue: being that the hook is such an interesting one, I wanted this to be explored in more detail. This is my biggest criticism of the book - with such interesting and explored characters, the final third of the book could've been expanded so that we get some answers to the questions posed in the earlier portions.
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on 19 November 2015
The general premise of this book is what got me to buy it, but I have to admit that it didn't take long for me to realise it wasn't the sort of book I was expecting.

The story is quite slow and long winded - I felt as though long strips of description were used for unimportant events that could have been summed up in a few sentences. The story is also much more about the characters and their relationships than the 'Rogue Moon' itself, which I found quite frustrating as I came in thinking there would be much more detail about the artefact and the struggles within it.

This being said, I remember the story fondly and will probably go back to it one day. Would recommend it, but just don't expect it to be a book full of action and death.
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on 7 August 2012
I found Rogue Moon to be a short and frustrating affair. The premise is excellent, but I found that the content of the book didn't quite live up to the expectations you get from reading the back. Despite this, it sticks with you, but I couldn't help but feel that the whole thing could be fleshed out so much more.
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on 30 June 2013
A bit slap dash in places. Good for those who love to delve into the psyche but only inspires though moreover you reading the authors.
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on 16 April 2012
I read this book a few years back after being drawn in by the ideas of death, reincarnation and the links to strange moon-based environments that are conjured up by the novel's usual descriptions. Unfortunately I found it to be a rather boring litany on psychological attributes and character types, with a bit of SF pulp style action thrown in towards the end. Dated and faintly ridiculous at times, but it could be one for those interested in an unusual angle on 1960's psychology.
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