Lunar Activity

Lunar Activity - Elizabeth Moon [These notes were made in 1991:]. It's rather unfair, I suppose, to base one's assessment of an author (a fantasy novelist) on a book of short stories, largely science fiction. It may well represent the flotsam and jetsam of an over-productive imagination. But I find, based on this book, that I am unable to acquiesce in a friend's very high recommendation. It's not that Moon lacks either scope or detail in her imaginary worlds - even within the confines of short stories, she manages to set them up quite well, thank you. Nor are there any problems with language or the handling of plot. No - what disturbs me about this collection is the rather Zolaesque insistence on physical, bodily reality, and in particular upon physical invasion, corruption and pain. There is an element of this in at least 4/5 of the stories, I'd say, and those that don't have it tend to be the briefer, less substantial ones. The last story, set in the fantasy world of Paksenarrion, stands apart by reason of that setting (tho' it shares the same fascination with mutilation). I found it both more elusive (because allusive to a trilogy I haven't read) and more attractive than the stories about a field ambulance service in space, or regeneration programme gone wrong, or goings-on in a genetics lab, or the loony doings of animal-rightsers determined to save a benign intestinal parasite. Most of these latter stories had attractive moments and a sharp social point, but they felt a trifle forced and cold to me. I may return to Moon to try the Paksenarrian stuff, but I have the feeling I will be able to suffer her fleshly obsessions only in small doses.