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For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains. Now the abscess was about to burst. Captain Harris had left the controls on autopilot and was talking to the front row of passengers as the first tremor shook the boat. For a fraction of a second he wondered if a fan blade had hit some submerged obstacle; then, quite lite For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains. Now the abscess was about to burst. Captain Harris had left the controls on autopilot and was talking to the front row of passengers as the first tremor shook the boat. For a fraction of a second he wondered if a fan blade had hit some submerged obstacle; then, quite literally, the bottom fell out of his world.It fell slowly, as all things must upon the Moon. The sea was alive and moving . . . Every stage of that nightmare transformation was pitilessly illuminated by the earth light, until the crater was so deep that its firewall was completely lost in shadow, and it seemed as if Selene were racing into a curving crescent of utter blackness – an arc of annihilation.In darkness and in silence, they were sinking into the Moon. . . .


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For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains. Now the abscess was about to burst. Captain Harris had left the controls on autopilot and was talking to the front row of passengers as the first tremor shook the boat. For a fraction of a second he wondered if a fan blade had hit some submerged obstacle; then, quite lite For a million years the bubble had been growing, like a vast abscess, below the root of the mountains. Now the abscess was about to burst. Captain Harris had left the controls on autopilot and was talking to the front row of passengers as the first tremor shook the boat. For a fraction of a second he wondered if a fan blade had hit some submerged obstacle; then, quite literally, the bottom fell out of his world.It fell slowly, as all things must upon the Moon. The sea was alive and moving . . . Every stage of that nightmare transformation was pitilessly illuminated by the earth light, until the crater was so deep that its firewall was completely lost in shadow, and it seemed as if Selene were racing into a curving crescent of utter blackness – an arc of annihilation.In darkness and in silence, they were sinking into the Moon. . . .

30 review for A Fall of Moondust

  1. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    The Earth's Moon in the mid 21st Century this frontier land is slowly growing , the future is in its tranquil cities under lunar domes ( Clavius City, population 52,647) . Tourism is a key to financial survival on this remote hostile world. Selene (Moon Goddess) a hovercraft designed to float over the lunar surface especially on the treacherous Sea of Thirst, above the moondust. Only one of these "boats," has been built if successful others will follow you would think . In charge of Selene, is t The Earth's Moon in the mid 21st Century this frontier land is slowly growing , the future is in its tranquil cities under lunar domes ( Clavius City, population 52,647) . Tourism is a key to financial survival on this remote hostile world. Selene (Moon Goddess) a hovercraft designed to float over the lunar surface especially on the treacherous Sea of Thirst, above the moondust. Only one of these "boats," has been built if successful others will follow you would think . In charge of Selene, is the unambitious but capable Captain Pat Harris and his crew, consisting of just a stewardess Miss Sue Wilkins. Soon to be a couple ? In the time to come old- fashioned words make a comeback, the Captain is a little afraid of the equally competent and attractive Sue. With a full load twenty -two people on board, on an ordinary voyage across the vast, dark, empty and eerie terrain in the long lunar night. They look out at the slowly sinking crescent Earth just above the horizon, lonely mountains nearby, complete silence except for the slight sound of the vessel's engine, disturbs the peace. Passing underneath the moondust looking like a calm liquid sea, only the boat's bright lights to show the stark scenery, with the chilly temperature of more than 200 below zero Fahrenheit, outside ... Somehow the rather ugly gray moonscape is beautiful, but the universe is a violent place a small moonquake occurs and the Selene quietly disappears, to the bottom of the waterless dusty, Sea of Thirst as if back on one of Earth's Oceans not an airless desert... Maybe the thrill seeking tourists should have stayed home, but there is always hope that these brave men and women can be saved, otherwise the Selene becomes just another lost tomb. They wait, with very high expectations ...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Swallowed by the Sea of Thirst: "A Fall of Moondust" by Arthur C. Clarke “He was a boy again, playing in the hot sand of a forgotten summer. He had found a tiny pit, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and there was something lurking in its depths—something completely buried except for its waiting jaws. The boy had watched, wondering, already conscious of the fact that this was the stage for some microscopic drama. He had seen an ant, min If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Swallowed by the Sea of Thirst: "A Fall of Moondust" by Arthur C. Clarke “He was a boy again, playing in the hot sand of a forgotten summer. He had found a tiny pit, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and there was something lurking in its depths—something completely buried except for its waiting jaws. The boy had watched, wondering, already conscious of the fact that this was the stage for some microscopic drama. He had seen an ant, mindlessly intent upon its mission, stumble at the edge of the crater and topple down the slope. It would have escaped easily enough—but when the first grain of sand had rolled to the bottom of the pit, the waiting ogre had reared out of its lair. With its forelegs it had hurled a fusilade of sand at the struggling insect, until the avalanche had overwhelmed it and brought it sliding into the throat of the crater. As Selene was sliding now. No ant-lion had dug this pit on the surface of the Moon, but Pat felt as helpless now as that doomed insect he had watched so many years ago. Like it, he was struggling to reach the safety of the rim, while the moving ground swept him back into the depths where death was waiting. A swift death for the ant, a protracted one for him and his companions.” In “A Fall of Moondust” by Arthur C. Clarke

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    Oh this was sooo close to 5 stars. It must be, oh gosh, almost 40 years since I read this, and boy did I enjoy it. Arthur C is a magnificent storyteller and an excellent character builder. This book builds and builds and just when you think (view spoiler)[ its safe, it all goes "pete tong" (sorry English expression - new rhyming slang) "wrong" (hide spoiler)] It is an excellent book, and given that I have always enjoyed Arthur C , I have to wonder why I have not read more (often). I have probably Oh this was sooo close to 5 stars. It must be, oh gosh, almost 40 years since I read this, and boy did I enjoy it. Arthur C is a magnificent storyteller and an excellent character builder. This book builds and builds and just when you think (view spoiler)[ its safe, it all goes "pete tong" (sorry English expression - new rhyming slang) "wrong" (hide spoiler)] It is an excellent book, and given that I have always enjoyed Arthur C , I have to wonder why I have not read more (often). I have probably read most of his books, but not for a while, so it is about time I revisited my Arthur C library. (Oh so so so close to 5 stars)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    As satisfying as a good HARD SF can be, one complaint often leveled against them is that they are TOO LONG-winded and pageTHICK and that those employing IT don't have the proper skills (story-making, that is) to create the narrative friction and plot rhythm requisite to bring the reading experience to a truly enjoyable climax. Well, at under 225 pages, this story's tight, well-honed body is a classic example of "hard" science fiction doing it right. I DID IT, liked it and I would DO IT again and As satisfying as a good HARD SF can be, one complaint often leveled against them is that they are TOO LONG-winded and pageTHICK and that those employing IT don't have the proper skills (story-making, that is) to create the narrative friction and plot rhythm requisite to bring the reading experience to a truly enjoyable climax. Well, at under 225 pages, this story's tight, well-honed body is a classic example of "hard" science fiction doing it right. I DID IT, liked it and I would DO IT again and recommend you consider DOING IT the next time you are looking for a little SFtail tale.  Written in 1961 by one of the masters, this tight, hard tale takes place on the Moon in the near future when our longtime satellite has been colonized and become an expensive tourist destination. The central plot is well laid out and concerns a "cruise" across the surface of one of the "lunar seas" that meets with disaster. From there, the rest of the book is a race against time to save the passengers as various problems are encountered, tempers run high, nerves are frayed, people are frightened, rescue ideas get kicked around and debated, heroes are born, villains exposed...and time, that nasty, unforgiving, unflinching hard ass just keeps ticking.  What makes this such a good piece of book is Clarke's ability to give excellent detail without spoiling the mood of the story. Clarke's science is meticulous, his rescue ideas plausible and set forth in detail and yet the pace never bogs down and he keeps the narrative motion pleasing. Given the slimness of the novel, Clarke does sacrifice character development and those present are fairly two dimensional. This does not hamper the story and is forgivable given the focus of the novel.  As good as this was and as superbly crafted from a technical standpoint, I couldn't quite give it four stars (call it 3.5). I think this may have been in part due to my not really being in the mood for this story when I read it. Unfortunately, books sometimes suffer based on our moods when we read them and that my be the case here.  As it is, I still enjoyed it and would say it is certainly worth a read given Clarke's ability to so effectively use the scientific and technical aspects of the plot.  Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Novel. .

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jokoloyo

    I read this book a long long time ago, borrowed from library. This story has typical style of Mr. Clarke: pretty technical but not too tedious, man vs. nature (a.k.a. disaster theme). Maybe not so intense like modern day disaster movies/novels, but I enjoyed this uncommon slow pace disaster story. Slow, but not boring. a fun trivia: what I can remember after all these years, the length of each chapter is similar. On my edition that I read, length of each chapter is around 8-9 pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    What began as a four hour trip became a deadly trap. Tourists on the Moon take a sightseeing trip across the "Sea of Thirst" A rare hard science fiction adventure from the pen of Arthur C. Clarke. image: The moon desert was filled with an extremely fine dust, a fine powder far drier than the contents of a terrestrial desert and which almost flows like water. The "Selene" was specially designed to skim across the surface until a rare subsidence caused the ship to sink beneath the dust becoming totall What began as a four hour trip became a deadly trap. Tourists on the Moon take a sightseeing trip across the "Sea of Thirst" A rare hard science fiction adventure from the pen of Arthur C. Clarke. image: The moon desert was filled with an extremely fine dust, a fine powder far drier than the contents of a terrestrial desert and which almost flows like water. The "Selene" was specially designed to skim across the surface until a rare subsidence caused the ship to sink beneath the dust becoming totally out of all contact. image: "Traffic Control we have a Problem" Captain Harris had left the controls on autopilot and was talking to the front row of passengers when the first tremor shook the boat. For a fraction of a second he wondered if a fan blade had hit some submerged obstacle; then, quite literally, the bottom fell out of his world. It fell slowly, as all things must upon the Moon. Ahead of Selene, in a circle many acres in extent, the smooth plain puckered like a navel. The Sea was alive and moving, stirred by the forces that had waked it from its age-long sleep. The center of the disturbance deepened into a funnel, as if a giant whirlpool were forming in the dust. Every stage of that nightmare transformation was pitilessly illuminated by the earthlight, until the crater was so deep that its far wall was completely lost in shadow, and it seemed as if Selene were racing into a curving crescent of utter blackness—an arc of annihilation. The truth was almost as bad. By the time that Pat had reached the controls, the boat was sliding and skittering far down that impossible slope. Its own momentum and the accelerating flow of the dust beneath it were carrying it headlong into the depths. There was nothing he could do but attempt to keep on an even keel, and to hope that their speed would carry them up the far side of the crater before it collapsed upon them. If the passengers screamed or cried out, Pat never heard them. He was conscious only of that dreadful, sickening slide, and of his own attempts to keep the cruiser from capsizing. Yet even as he fought with the controls, feeding power first to one fan, then to the other, in an effort to straighten Selene’s course, a strange, nagging memory was teasing his mind. Somewhere, somehow, he had seen this happen before. That was ridiculous, of course, but the memory would not leave him. Not until he reached the bottom of the funnel and saw the endless slope of dust rolling down from the crater’s star-fringed lip did the veil of time lift for a moment. He was a boy again, playing in the hot sand of a forgotten summer. He had found a tiny pit, perfectly smooth and symmetrical, and there was something lurking in its depths—something completely buried except for its waiting jaws. The boy had watched, wondering, already conscious of the fact that this was the stage for some microscopic drama. He had seen an ant, mindlessly intent upon its mission, stumble at the edge of the crater and topple down the slope. It would have escaped easily enough—but when the first grain of sand had rolled to the bottom of the pit, the waiting ogre had reared out of its lair. With its forelegs, it had hurled a fusillade of sand at the struggling insect, until the avalanche had overwhelmed it and brought it sliding down into the throat of the crater. As Selene was sliding now. No ant lion had dug this pit on the surface of the Moon, but Pat felt as helpless now as that doomed insect he had watched so many years ago. Like it, he was struggling to reach the safety of the rim, while the moving ground swept him back into the depths where death was waiting. A swift death for the ant, a protracted one for him and his companions. The straining motors were making some headway, but not enough. The falling dust was gaining speed—and, what was worse, it was rising outside the walls of the cruiser. Now it had reached the lower edge of the windows; now it was creeping up the panes; and at last it had covered them completely. Pat cut the motors before they tore themselves to pieces, and as he did so, the rising tide blotted out the last glimpse of the crescent Earth. In darkness and in silence, they were sinking into the Moon. As the Selene heats up and the air becomes unbreathable, young Captain Pat Harris and his chief stewardess Sue Wilkins try to keep the passengers occupied and psychologically stable while waiting to be rescued. This is what makes Arthur C. Clarke special... Clarke's Three Laws: 1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. 2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. 3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Enjoy!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jared Millet

    Finally Got Around To... Back in the 80s when I was swimming through Asimov, Herbert, and Clarke, I distinctly remember picking A Fall of Moondust off my high school library's shelf and reading the first page, then putting it back to save for later. A Fall of Moondust might be the closest thing to a suspense thriller Arthur Clarke ever wrote. Due to a freak moonquake, the tourist bus/spacecraft Selene gets buried 15 meters below one of the lunar "seas" in a region of dust with bizarre, liquid-like Finally Got Around To... Back in the 80s when I was swimming through Asimov, Herbert, and Clarke, I distinctly remember picking A Fall of Moondust off my high school library's shelf and reading the first page, then putting it back to save for later. A Fall of Moondust might be the closest thing to a suspense thriller Arthur Clarke ever wrote. Due to a freak moonquake, the tourist bus/spacecraft Selene gets buried 15 meters below one of the lunar "seas" in a region of dust with bizarre, liquid-like properties. Parallel plots ensue focusing on the Selene's passengers and crew buried alive with limited air, the engineers on the surface desperately trying to locate and rescue them, and the news reporters vying for first dibs on the story (or tragedy) of the century. A Fall of Moondust sits right on the cusp of the Golden Age of SF and the actual, legitimate Space Age. It retains the verve, gusto, and quaint 1950s characterizations of the former, but (especially because this is Clarke) the solid, real-world sensibilities of the latter. The science may be a little off regarding the properties of actual lunar dust, but for 1961 the speculation is mostly spot-on. While we may not have achieved permanent lunar bases and tourism yet, Clarke absolutely nails the importance of sensationalist news reporting in a world of easy global communication (which is not surprising given that Clarke is credited with the original idea for geostationary communication satellites). Another author may have sacrificed some of the science in order to ramp up the human tension and make that the focus of the story, but that isn't Clarke's style. Nevertheless, his characters aren't merely science-spouting robots, and they aren't supermen either. Clarke recognizes that solving the problems brought on by human foibles would be just as important in this kind of disaster situation as it would be to solve the engineering problems, and he gives both aspects equal time. I can imagine that if Alfred Hitchcock had ever decided to make a science fiction movie, he might have used something like this book as a place to start.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Before there was The Martian (and indeed, before Apollo 13), there was A Fall of Moondust. I don’t know if the one influenced the other, but the feel is very much the same: people are stranded in a situation in space in which there are problems of communication, air, sanity, etc. (The exact same situations don’t come up, but the same basic problems apply, as of course they would.) I’m not sure how feasible the science of the Sea of Thirst is, but Clarke makes it work within the story, and as far Before there was The Martian (and indeed, before Apollo 13), there was A Fall of Moondust. I don’t know if the one influenced the other, but the feel is very much the same: people are stranded in a situation in space in which there are problems of communication, air, sanity, etc. (The exact same situations don’t come up, but the same basic problems apply, as of course they would.) I’m not sure how feasible the science of the Sea of Thirst is, but Clarke makes it work within the story, and as far as I can tell follows all his conclusions through logically — x causes y in the way it should, etc. Unlike The Martian, a whole group of people are trapped and so it goes into the psychology of that kind of situation; the sniping, the attempts to keep harmony, the struggles for control. For the most part it all feels fairly mild — somehow I never really doubted that they would survive and be saved — but the steps of problem solving are interesting, and the glimpses of character and the way people come together for an issue like this. And the atmosphere of the moon, the eeriness of the dusty expanses and the vastness of space, that is all brought across well too. It’s quite a short book, and maybe there’s not as much character engagement as in a modern work like The Martian, but I enjoyed it. Originally posted here.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ben Loory

    really wonderful set-up then bogs down into a bunch of people with slide rules digging a hole

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tony

    Ok, have to own up to not having finished this. I couldn't. It was as dry as the dust which lends it's name to the book. I just couldn't get enthusiastic about it at all. Sorry Arte! Ok, have to own up to not having finished this. I couldn't. It was as dry as the dust which lends it's name to the book. I just couldn't get enthusiastic about it at all. Sorry Arte!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Baba

    SF Masterworks 49 - A lunar 'bus' is involved in an accident that sees it disappear off of the surface of the moon. Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and to a lesser extent the media, work together (led by the engineers), to find, and then attempt to rescue the 2o stranded passengers and the 2 crew. Clarke takes the simple 'coal miners missing after cave-in' idea and adds futurism, science, logic, tons of suspense and well crafted characterisations of a large ensemble cast to make me a nerv SF Masterworks 49 - A lunar 'bus' is involved in an accident that sees it disappear off of the surface of the moon. Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and to a lesser extent the media, work together (led by the engineers), to find, and then attempt to rescue the 2o stranded passengers and the 2 crew. Clarke takes the simple 'coal miners missing after cave-in' idea and adds futurism, science, logic, tons of suspense and well crafted characterisations of a large ensemble cast to make me a nervous wreck for the hours I spent glued to this masterclass in suspense writing! The suspense! As I work my way through the SF Masterworks series, it's looking more and more like, that Arthur C. Clarke stands heads and shoulders above his peers. My second Clarke read, and yet another easy Four Star rating! Arthur C. Clarke is da man!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    One of the first novels by Arthur C Clarke that I read as a kid. Part hard science fiction, part suspenseful thriller, it was a good story then and now. This is a book about saving the lives of people on the moon. It is along the same lines as The Martian, using science and clever ideas to overcome setbacks. Instead of one person trapped, it is a group of 20, and Clarke has fun with their group dynamic. He also uses them as a vehicle to discuss the cult of UFO watchers. Other characters are also One of the first novels by Arthur C Clarke that I read as a kid. Part hard science fiction, part suspenseful thriller, it was a good story then and now. This is a book about saving the lives of people on the moon. It is along the same lines as The Martian, using science and clever ideas to overcome setbacks. Instead of one person trapped, it is a group of 20, and Clarke has fun with their group dynamic. He also uses them as a vehicle to discuss the cult of UFO watchers. Other characters are also solid, from the savvy reporter to the unlikable genius who runs the rescue effort. Some of the science is a bit dated, but this was written almost a decade before anyone walked on the moon. As to rereading this, I remembered the basic situation and form of rescue, but the various dialog and interactions of the trapped tourists was forgotten. The reality does not detract from the nostalgia. Though my teen self may have rated this a 5 star book, I think it is closer to 4.5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    Arthur C. Clarke is one of those authors of whom I'm never quite sure how fond I am. I hear his name and think “Gee willikers, I love Arthur C. Clarke!” And then I think back over the books I've read by him and I'm not so sure. Before today I'd read a total of thirteen books written or co-written by him, and had given him a rather underwhelming average score of 2.4 out of 5. If one ignores the ones he co-authored (and their style in each case suggests that his co-author did most of the writing) Arthur C. Clarke is one of those authors of whom I'm never quite sure how fond I am. I hear his name and think “Gee willikers, I love Arthur C. Clarke!” And then I think back over the books I've read by him and I'm not so sure. Before today I'd read a total of thirteen books written or co-written by him, and had given him a rather underwhelming average score of 2.4 out of 5. If one ignores the ones he co-authored (and their style in each case suggests that his co-author did most of the writing) then he leaps up to a marginally less mediocre 2.8 out of 5. Those perhaps aren't the kind of statistics that should make me pick up yet more of his work, but A Fall of Moondust was only two pounds, and it sounded quite good on the back, and there's a quote on the front cover from John Wyndham saying it's Clarke's best work, and Wyndham is an author that I really do like (he averages a much better 3.7 out of 5 from me here on Goodreads). A Fall of Moondust is basically an episode of Thunderbirds set on the moon. And also set in a Universe where International Rescue doesn't exist, otherwise Thunderbird 3 would've sorted everything out in a few pages. But I'm getting ahead of myself. A tour bus/boat travelling across a sea of quicksand-like dust on the moon's surface falls victim to a sudden seismic shift, and is pulled a short distance beneath the surface. Like Clarke's other works, all this happens very early on in the novel. He doesn't waste time with a bunch of mindless character development or tedious backstory – all that is dealt with while the real plot unfolds. This real plot is twofold – the efforts of the engineers on the surface to find and then save the sunken craft, and the efforts of the twenty-two people stuck underground to maintain their calm. There's enough levity and drama in both storylines to maintain the novel for its fairly brief length. Particularly quaint in the underground side of things was Clarke's gentle fun with literature. The assembled tourists only have two books amongst them to allay boredom: a copy of that literary classic Shane , and a historical erotic-romance written by a teenager on Mars featuring the couplings of Isaac Newton and Eleanor Gwyn. The brief snippet we hear from this latter work sounds like a pitch-perfect parody of today's book market, flooded with [insert genre here]-erotica riding on the Fifty Shades bandwagon. And then you remember that Clarke published this in 1961 and you have to wonder if this new trend is so new after all. The drama stakes are kept high through the fairly formulaic approach of letting the characters sort out a problem, having them relax, tossing in some foreshadowing, and then letting some fresh complication throw matters into disarray. Every long running science fiction show has episodes like this (oh no, the crew is trapped, we only have an arbitrary time period to save them!) and they all follow the same script (oh no, now we have even less time to save them!). Clarke even has one of the characters allude to this after one particular disaster, aghast that he “should ever get involved in the Number One cliché of the TV Space Operas.” Again, this was written in 1961 so either science fiction on TV was clichéd even then or this is Clarke's trademark prescience at work. Either way, little flourishes like this help counterbalance the story's occasional aged nature. The story is far from perfect, and it's never entirely clear if it's setting up clichés for everyone else to follow, or satirising those that already existed. Either way, it's a ripping yarn and might well fulfil John Wyndham's promise even now of being “The best book Arthur C. Clarke has written.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sacha Valero

    “The best book Arthur C. Clarke has written,” John Wyndham. No. It isn't. Rendezvous With Rama was the best book Arthur C. Clarke wrote. Not only was RWR the best book Clarke wrote, it is one of the greatest Sci-fi books of all time. Period. Granted, Rendezvous was published in 1973 and A Fall of Moondust in 1961 and John Wyndham died in 1969 never having the opportunity to read Rendezvous With Rama. Still, A Fall of Moondust is fecal matter splashed on paper. This book was wretched and boring. It “The best book Arthur C. Clarke has written,” John Wyndham. No. It isn't. Rendezvous With Rama was the best book Arthur C. Clarke wrote. Not only was RWR the best book Clarke wrote, it is one of the greatest Sci-fi books of all time. Period. Granted, Rendezvous was published in 1973 and A Fall of Moondust in 1961 and John Wyndham died in 1969 never having the opportunity to read Rendezvous With Rama. Still, A Fall of Moondust is fecal matter splashed on paper. This book was wretched and boring. It is way too long for the story being told and the story being told is told in such a way that I couldn't care less if everyone died. In fact, that would have been preferable because at least something unpredictable would have happened. The pacing of this book (if it could be said to have any) is reminiscent of my eighty year old father taking a trip through Sam's Club. He's gonna get himself a cart to push around and lean on, just not that one with a seat and a motor. Sure, it might take him all day, but at least he'll hit every isle and go home with a bunch crap he doesn't really need. (And who doesn't need a thirty pound bag of jasmine rice in their pantry?). In what is essentially a 'lost at sea' story on the moon, the character development is non-existent. It's generically a series of life or death events where the day is saved in such a banal and predictable manner that provides nothing of substance. I find my stomach twisting in knots as I write this about an Arthur C. Clarke book, but there's no other way for me to review this. It's just horrid and boring.

  15. 5 out of 5

    William

    One of the very first sci-fi books I read, after "Red Planet" and other stories by Robert Heinlein. One of the very first sci-fi books I read, after "Red Planet" and other stories by Robert Heinlein.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Badseedgirl

    This book was such a great read for me. I picked it up and felt I was immediately thrust into this lunar environment. The action was paced sublimely. Although the science of a "sea of sand" was not correct, it was easy to suspend belief for this extremely well written story. This book was such a great read for me. I picked it up and felt I was immediately thrust into this lunar environment. The action was paced sublimely. Although the science of a "sea of sand" was not correct, it was easy to suspend belief for this extremely well written story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    (Rereading now because Dave gave me his copy that he read long ago.) I need to read this again. (I remember enjoying it very much, but a new read might reveal a new star rating.) I was reminded of it because I was thinking about examples of what I call "No Enemy" books. Books where's there's no bad guys, human or alien, but rather the challenge is against an inhospitable planet or a virus or something. Like The Martian. Please tell me of any further examples you know of! Ok done with the second re (Rereading now because Dave gave me his copy that he read long ago.) I need to read this again. (I remember enjoying it very much, but a new read might reveal a new star rating.) I was reminded of it because I was thinking about examples of what I call "No Enemy" books. Books where's there's no bad guys, human or alien, but rather the challenge is against an inhospitable planet or a virus or something. Like The Martian. Please tell me of any further examples you know of! Ok done with the second read. Yes it's a bit dated, and no doubt a bit of the science is wrong, considering this was published in 1961. But it's still a great hard sf read. Also some soft science exploration. "He sometimes wondered if the real reason men sought danger was that only then could they find the companionship and solidarity which they unconsciously craved."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eggp

    Trapped under moon dust annoying cast fails to die bury them deeper.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura-Kristiina Valdson

    I love Arthur C. Clarke's ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' to the moon and back. One of the best sci-fi books ever written. ''A Fall of Moondust'' was a bit too dry, as hard sci-fi often is. Parts of it were enjoyable, but mostly it's a very technical read. 3 stars for that reason. I love Arthur C. Clarke's ''2001: A Space Odyssey'' to the moon and back. One of the best sci-fi books ever written. ''A Fall of Moondust'' was a bit too dry, as hard sci-fi often is. Parts of it were enjoyable, but mostly it's a very technical read. 3 stars for that reason.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Airiz

    Like its reel counterparts, popcorn literature set in outer space are usually replete with alien invasions, intergalactic skirmishes, and heroes trying to defeat extraterrestrial elements. But there is no written rule saying all works under the genre should have all these checklist items ticked—relying on hard facts, research, and a little bit of forecast will sometimes do just dandy. If done properly, they could even be better than most of those soft sci-fi treats. This dawned on me as I correc Like its reel counterparts, popcorn literature set in outer space are usually replete with alien invasions, intergalactic skirmishes, and heroes trying to defeat extraterrestrial elements. But there is no written rule saying all works under the genre should have all these checklist items ticked—relying on hard facts, research, and a little bit of forecast will sometimes do just dandy. If done properly, they could even be better than most of those soft sci-fi treats. This dawned on me as I corrected 1/3 of my blasphemous mistake of Not Having Read Anything by the Sci-Fi’s Great Triumvirate (also known as Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, and Robert Heinlein) by picking up one of Clarke’s classic works, A Fall of Moondust. Known as the first science fiction novel to be included in the Reader’s Digest’s Condensed Book, A Fall of Moondust is a futuristic (or pseudo-futuristic?) lunar disaster story involving the tourist “dust-cruiser” Selene, which sunk into the “Sea of Thirst” after a moonquake. Its twenty-two occupants must struggle to survive while the crew above them tries to trace and rescue them before it’s too late. Readers need not become selenologists or even space buffs to notice that the world-building is superbly executed, although by now the delicate details of its science-based foundation are largely outdated. Clarke was not also able to foresee the influx of high technology that this generation could as well be having; the existence of cellular/smart phones or tablets and similar gadgets could have propelled the plot points into very different directions, from contacting people (they are not in too deep into the moon-pit anyway) to extracting some form of entertainment. This did not deter me from enjoying its multi-dimensionality, though. I loved the feel of the whole thing, from how space tourism worked in the author’s chosen setting—with of course a bit of involvement of politics, like how there are actually some officials who voted against turning the moon into a tourist destination, etc.—to how Clarke wrote the moon to appear both mystifyingly beautiful and stealthily dangerous. It was as if the moon was a character in itself, and that is always good in my book. The characters are not as fleshed out as I wanted them to be, but I think they were decent for the most part. My favorite turned out to be the one person the other characters could not find themselves to like, the young grumpy astroscientist Tom Lawson. His antisocial, high-and-mighty attitude makes almost all people he meets peel away from him as if he is caustic, and that’s exactly how he wants it. He does not put up pretenses about caring for the people he is supposed to be saving; he is a cold problem-solver, bent on proving he is right when all of nature is trying to tell him otherwise. I liked him the most because he is ‘differently flavored’ from the rest of the characters. He stands out and does not make excuses for his actions, and though he sets out to make everyone thinks he is made of marble, there are moments in the book that poked at his soft core, handful of scenes that showed he could be an ordinary, scared human too. Through subtle episodes, it is hinted that his personality has been a by-product of a bad childhood. However, Clarke did not allot space for a dramatic back story as it could veer away the focus from the main meat of the novel, a choice that is unusual with overly dramatic books nowadays. The thing that concerned me the most is the lack of strong women in the book. Sure, we have the flight attendant Sue Wilkins, but what purpose does her presence serve other than being a romance catalyst for one of the main male characters? She is described as formidable, but nothing in the novel ever backed that up—even that single sentence saying the skipper Pat Harris is simultaneously afraid of and smitten by her proved to be a tad too unconvincing . The rest of the women are passengers who are either bitter old maids with a bad case of “impacted virginity” (I mean, seriously?!) or obese wives who automatically turn themselves into butts of ridicule with zero effort. But in terms of plot and pacing, this story simply shines. I was constantly at the edge of my seat, turning pages in awe as I await one plot twist after another (Clarke never runs out of rabbit to pull out of his author’s hat, I tell you). This is a prime example of a true-blue space thriller. They say this is not even Clarke’s best work, making me more excited about reading A Space Odyssey or Rendezvous with Rama. Four stars for a satisfying treat!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    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 Inacces 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam Smith

    The sea of Thirst. Countless eons have gone into the creation of a sea unlike anything mankind has encountered before. A sea of dust. On the moon. People travel from all across the inhabited systems to board the Selene and travel across that endless sea of lifeless grey dust, but something is stirring beneath the dust. Something that just might cost the lives of all those aboard the Selene. Science marches on. Back when this was written there was a real concern that the surface of the moon might The sea of Thirst. Countless eons have gone into the creation of a sea unlike anything mankind has encountered before. A sea of dust. On the moon. People travel from all across the inhabited systems to board the Selene and travel across that endless sea of lifeless grey dust, but something is stirring beneath the dust. Something that just might cost the lives of all those aboard the Selene. Science marches on. Back when this was written there was a real concern that the surface of the moon might be nothing more than a great sinking quagmire of moondust. That the first astronauts would touch down in a puddle of slow-acting quicksand and be lost for good. Luckily that was not the case, but still it is a frightening prospect to think of. This story was written right at the height of the Space Race, so it can be forgiven if reality took a different path. The story may be unlikely, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good tale. Even after all these years this story still has the capacity to entertain. Some things haven’t aged as well as they should’ve, but overall it is still a gripping yarn. I liked this book, but at times it did seem like the moon was really out to get the characters as not ten minutes go by without some well-time catastrophe coming along to put them in peril once more. Almost to the point where you could set a clock to it. Still I did like it. It would be interesting to see someone make a movie of this based on what we know now. An entertaining story from the time when man dreamed of reaching the stars. For my book challenge this year it said pick some place I’ve always wanted to visit. I racked my brain trying to think of where I’d go and it was a really tough decision. There isn’t really any one place on Earth that I’d like more than the others (seeing as I’ve already travelled to and live in Japan), so I picked somewhere out of this world. The moon seems like an interesting choice. ***Reading Challenge 2015: A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit***

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    No book exists in a vacuum. By that I mean you can't come to a book or story without the history of your own reading or viewing experiences across the same or other genres and in other mediums. For example, my own love and fascination with "Doctor Who." During the second Doctor's era, there were a lot of stories that fell into the category of base under siege. Basically, you had an external threat menacing an isolated group of human beings. It's a fairly simple premise but one that the series wor No book exists in a vacuum. By that I mean you can't come to a book or story without the history of your own reading or viewing experiences across the same or other genres and in other mediums. For example, my own love and fascination with "Doctor Who." During the second Doctor's era, there were a lot of stories that fell into the category of base under siege. Basically, you had an external threat menacing an isolated group of human beings. It's a fairly simple premise but one that the series worked and re-worked to great affect time and again in the 60's. Listening to the BBC Audio dramatization of "A Fall of Moondust," I got a similar vibe to that of the old Troughton base under siege stories. We have a group of survivors, trapped under a sea of dust on the moon. And while Clark's story doesn't limit us to just their point of view, seeing the various reactions of people to the circumstances and finding out that each person has his or her own secret and/or agenda, it certainly had the feeling of those stories. The story is a solid one and it's entertaining enough. The characters aren't the most three-dimensional you'll find, but they're interesting enough to keep things entertaining. The driving dilemma of how the group of survivors can and will be rescued powers the drama forward and keeps the story from lagging. This is one of those stories that shows that good sci-fi can be done quickly without expanding to thousands of pages and umpteen spin-off and sequel novels.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    It's been such a pleasure to read (well, listen to) these authors that represent standards of Science Fiction. I really enjoy Clarke. Can't wait to really dig into Asimov. I never read this stuff as a kid, but it's a joy to experience now. Also, I particularly enjoy stories in which there's no villain and this is one of them. I kept thinking of The Martian. I have to wonder if Andy Weir consulted this book periodically when writing The Martian. It's been such a pleasure to read (well, listen to) these authors that represent standards of Science Fiction. I really enjoy Clarke. Can't wait to really dig into Asimov. I never read this stuff as a kid, but it's a joy to experience now. Also, I particularly enjoy stories in which there's no villain and this is one of them. I kept thinking of The Martian. I have to wonder if Andy Weir consulted this book periodically when writing The Martian.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Campbell

    I read this, oh, almost 30 years ago and it remains vivid in my memory. In the intervening years I've re-read it twice without diminishment. Without giving too much away, this is a disaster story set upon the Moon, in which a team of rescuers race against time to reach a stricken hovercraft, packed with tourists, sunk beneath the moondust. I read this, oh, almost 30 years ago and it remains vivid in my memory. In the intervening years I've re-read it twice without diminishment. Without giving too much away, this is a disaster story set upon the Moon, in which a team of rescuers race against time to reach a stricken hovercraft, packed with tourists, sunk beneath the moondust.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    I’m surprised that this was never made into a movie during the disaster craze. It is the perfect disaster film, but set on the moon. A tourist bus gets trapped in a sea of dust, and the forces of nature lazily race against a rescue operation that often has no idea what is wrong, or where. This is very tightly-written, and exciting all the way through.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    You can read my review here: http://embracingmybooks.blogspot.be/2... You can read my review here: http://embracingmybooks.blogspot.be/2...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I abandoned this at 50%. I normally like Clarke but the 1950ies gender roles annoyed me too much. Women were all stewardesses, former burlesque dancers, or bitter virginal old maids.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    This is an entertaining hard science fiction story about a group of tourists riding a "boat" across a sea of dust on the moon's surface who find themselves getting sucked under and trapped. It reminded me of The Martian with its plot that involves a struggle for survival in a hostile environment where a series of technical problems are met and must be overcome. It's not as good as The Martian since it lacks that novel's humor and character development (Clarke is great in many ways, but all his c This is an entertaining hard science fiction story about a group of tourists riding a "boat" across a sea of dust on the moon's surface who find themselves getting sucked under and trapped. It reminded me of The Martian with its plot that involves a struggle for survival in a hostile environment where a series of technical problems are met and must be overcome. It's not as good as The Martian since it lacks that novel's humor and character development (Clarke is great in many ways, but all his characters are wooden), but if you liked The Martian there's a good chance you'll like this one too.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rhuddem Gwelin

    The concept of Arthur C. Clarke is much more interesting than his books. Yes, he had a fantastic imagination, yes he was a meticulous scientist and technical wizard, and yes he opened up the world to a great expansion of thoughts and ideas. But his writing is medicocre, his characters flat and this particular novel is, frankly, boring. But still, it is Arthur C. Clarke and his tremendous achievements must be lauded.

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