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A Grey Moon Over China    by Thomas A. Day order for
Grey Moon Over China
by Thomas A. Day
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2009 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Thomas A. Day's A Grey Moon Over China is noir SF, set in a future when energy wars have taken the planet to the brink of an apocalypse. After talented Tech-War army engineer Eduardo Torres stumbles upon an escape route - someone else's invention of a power generator the size of a car battery - he seizes the moment with the help of his violent, ruthless sidekick (hatchet man?) Polaski, his lover Dr. Katherine Chan, and the private army they quickly pull together.

Humanity had developed a way off the planet, a torus 'that could generate a field along its axis strong enough to bend a narrow cone of space.' The intent was to send super-smart drones through ahead of colonists. What they hadn't developed was an energy source, and now Torres has acquired that. Through a combination of sleight of hand (they create a secret, classified unit to prepare the way) and blackmail (they threaten to destroy the new power cells they manufacture), Torres' team wins the time and resources to pave the way to leave the planet. In this they have the help of Anne Miller, 'the world's foremost expert on EI' (effective - as opposed to manufactured - intelligence).

But, as waves of colony ships set out for the Holzstein System, they tragically drag the mess of competition and conflict that riddled Earth with wars and destruction along with them - indeed they send it on ahead of them. In the Holzstein System, they find three landable (but in no way ideal) planets and, through another torus they identify an ideal Earth-type, habitable planet that they name Serenitas. Because of attacks by aliens already in the system, that paradise remains beyond their reach. They fight amongst themselves over the limited resources and over the best way to deal with the alien threat.

Though I read the book all the way through to find out what happened to the colonists, none of the characters really engaged my interest - lead Eduardo Torres, in particular, remains distant. I recommend A Grey Moon Over China mainly to SF fans who like their futures dark and are more interested in the overall story arc and technology than the players.

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