Original Title: Earthlight
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
Two hundred years after humans first touched down on the surface of the Moon, there are permanent settlements there—as well as on Venus and Mars. The inhabitants of these colonies have formed their own political alliance: the Federation.
On the Moon, a government agent from Earth is hunting a suspected spy at a prominent observatory. He is caught up in the larger political struggle between Earth’s government and that of the Federation, and ultimately must struggle for his life—in the beautiful and barren landscape of the Moon under Earth’s light.
This book is about a government agent from Earth who has to travel to the Moon to find a spy. A spy who is sending information to the planets of the Federation about the mineral resources of the Moon.
Why is that important? Only the Earth in our Solar System is rich with the minerals that humanity needs to advance. So, our dear planet has a very tight control over those resources and doesn’t give them easily to the Federation. Obviously, the other planets are not very fond of that behaviour. Earth scientists discovered a way to exploit the mineral resources of the Moon, but the government decided to stay quiet, in order to avoid the Federation requests for more minerals.
Somehow, the Federation is informed about what is happening on the Moon; which makes the Earth government realizes that there must be a spy. That spy must be from the Observatory, a complex full of astronomers. They decided to send there an agent disguised as an accountant to investigate and catch the spy.
It sounds pretty interesting, isn’t it? Sadly, that’s hardly the main course of this book. The most enjoyable part is when the author describes how is the life on the Moon and all the politics that are necessary for the plot (and teaches the reader a bit of astronomy, too). I was expecting a “duel” between agent and spy, but nothing farther from reality. I even dare to say that the main character, Sadlter the agent, is utterly disposable. He doesn’t weigh on the story at all. He is just the couple of eyes Arthutr uses to show us how the world is in that distant future. That’s pretty sad, becasue if we remove the pages where Sadler is, the book would have like 50 pages at most. In all the important parts, the agent from Earth is nowhere to be found.
Does that mean is a bad book? Not at all. It just means that the book doesn’t give the reader what the blurb suggests. It would have been exactly the same without the agent or the spy. But Arthur is a master at drawing the future, so it makes up for the lack of the promised mystery.
There is also a detail I can’t forget: where are the women in that future? All the characters are male ones: scientists, soldiers, journalists… I know the first edition was in 1955, but it’s still curious that they don’t have any role at all.
It’s a good book, easy to read and enjoyable. But it’s not what I expected…
Next: Blood Trinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love