by Paul Gillebaard
Dream Access Books, 405pp, hardcover

[Paul Gillebaard’s web site]

The funny thing about this book: I can actually see it happening.

Basic premise: in the near future, with the United States space program in a shambles, the Chinese launch a lunar mission that actually puts taikonauts on the back side of the moon, where they set up a laser to blast any vehicle that comes around without a code. With that in place, they return to Earth, where the Chinese government proceeds to make the claim that the United States never successfully landed on the moon, and that all of the lunar landings were faked in a studio.

Now, we’ve heard this claim before. My great-uncle Ray was one of those who never believed we landed on the Moon, and in today’s age of Facebook and Snopes and everything on thing Internet being true, I can totally buy an entire generation of people doubting our ability to accomplish this kind of thing. It’s an indictment on the space program, that we have no major projects going on right now; nor do we have any manned missions planned for the foreseeable future. And we’re relying on the Russians to take us out into space. That’s a big steaming bowl full of irony right there, isn’t it?

Ex-CIA agent and former astronaut Peter Novak finds himself at the forefront of America’s efforts to prove they actually landed on the Moon. To do that, the CIA — under orders from the President — recruits a private space agency to get Novak to the International Space Station, where he and a former Soviet cosmonaut steal a Soyuz capsule and set out to get to the moon and prove that the Chinese are lying by taking high definition photos of the US landing sites.

Author Paul Gillebaard makes his debut with Moon Hoax, and he’s got an economical style that’s easy to read. Growing up among astronauts in the Nassau Bay, TX region, Gillebaard brings a familiarity with the space program that lends a great deal of authenticity to the story. On top of the culture of gullibility we live in today, combined with the limping US space program, Moon Hoax doesn’t really seem all that far-fetched.

Besides the main plot, Gillebaard gives us a little romance, some old fashioned Cold War rivalry turned friendly competition, and gives us a glimpse into a broken space program that once again must scramble after a major superpower jumps ahead.

The story will continue with Space Hoax, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Put this one on your shelf.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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