An Audible Original Release
Informational Note: I am reviewing this audiobook release of my own free will. However I did receive a free copy from one of the book’s two authors after displaying an interest in the plot which I feel I must disclose. I do intend to give an honest and fair review to the best of my ability
Hello again to you all! It’s time for another piece of audio science fiction once more. But this time it’s a bit more retro…a bit more 60s. Why don’t I tell you all about the Luna Missile Crisis?
The Luna Missile Crisis is actually an audiobook somewhat outside of my usual wheelhouse as despite being a science fiction story it is also an alternative history story which is something I have relatively little experience with. However I’m certainly glad I gave it a shot!
The plot is as follows: The year is 1961: The Russian cosmonaut program is about to send its first hero Yuri Gagarin out into space and beat the Americans to at least that first hurdle in the space race. But there’s a slight problem. A cosmic car crash occurs utterly decimating Gagarin. The people on the other end of the incident: The Vulbathi: A toad like semi aquatic alien species who communicate in ways utterly unknown to humanity. As a side effect of this Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev does the unthinkable and fires nukes at the Americans. The Vulbathi feeling threatened destroy the nukes directly over Eastern Europe and turn Germany, Poland, Hungary and various connected nations into a radioactive wasteland known as The Dead Curtain.
It has been three years. Things have changed. Humanity lives peacefully with The Vulbathi in a spirit of co-operation. The aliens have shared some of their great technology allowing great advances however not all humans view these new arrivals as allies or friends. Are they saviours? Conquerors? The fragile peace is threatened unintentionally when an alien technology counterfeiter sets off a geopolitical time bomb. So now it’s up to Connor McCoy to fix his mistake – provided his brother in the Department Of Alien Relations catch him first!
The Luna Missile Crisis is an entertaining listen, very much in the same feel as the 1960s science fiction pulps of the era this story evokes. The changes to global society caused by the arrival of the Vulbathi are intriguing as are the changes in technology like the ‘holotube’ television or the entire existence of the Luna International moonbase. Despite its pulpy nature you can believe the character motivations in a lot of cases. Connor McCoy has perfectly reasonable personal trauma from ‘Contact Day’ which means he doesn’t exactly trust the new arrivals and generally closes himself off from would be friends. One of the small time threats who thinks they are a lot more important than they are – a certain mafioso – is convincingly motivated by a mix of arrogance, self-confidence and greed and various other examples.
Rhett C. Bruno and Jaime Castle have written the story well. Alongside the aforementioned changes in tech and character motivation I also have to praise the internal logic. They’ve clearly spent some time together planning out how these new alterations have consequences so the story makes sense. Not to mention the limitations on what the alien arrivals can and can’t do. There are limits to the Vulbathi so they don’t just feel like gods or living deus ex machinas.
But there is one criticism I feel I must bring up. This may be due to my minimal experience with alternative histories but it did feel like the book spent no small amount of time at the beginning wandering before starting the main narrative. Set up is important. That is obvious. But it felt as though the first quarter or so of this book was set up. Once the main narrative got going it was a gripping story well told and I may well give other books by the authors a listen.
The narrator for this Audible Original is a certain Ray Porter who did an excellent job with the narration. He really heightened the pulp fiction vibe with his narration sounding like it came from an American news anchor of the period. My favourite voices he gave the characters were definitely his voices for the McCoy brothers as he did a perfect job displaying the differences in their outlook on life and personalities through their voices. With a secondary favourite in the form of Shimmer the Vulbathi Ambassador due to the way he manages to depict the way the Vulbathi communicate and their emotions through his vocals. I can definitely understand why I’d heard good things from elsewhere regarding Mr Porter!
In conclusion The Luna Missile Crisis is a very entertaining alternative history tale with a pulp sci-fi bent. Bruno and Castle are definitely a pair of talented writers and ones I’ll keep an eye on. Despite my one relatively major complaint this is still an excellent story well told by talented wordsmiths and I’m more than glad I took a chance on the McCoy brothers! I hope I can persuade some of my readers to join me!
Ah…yes. It’s you human. I’ve been keeping an eye on you as I promised. Becoming friends with the Inquisition is brave. Very brave indeed. But I think it’s time I take you back into the Warp. Back into the Heresy.
As my newly returned Warpspawn pointed out it looks I will have to disappear until April. It is indeed time for another month of heresies. See you all soon!