The final installment of the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond and what a finale it is.
Dark Side of Luna starts rather pleasantly with Nathanial and Annabelle stuck on board HMAS Sovereign and Nathanial in custody under suspicion of sabotage (a trumped-up charge, obviously) and Annabelle trying to convince everybody the charges are ridiculous.
All this changes when the Sovereign is hailed by another space vessel (I will not say from which nation) and a cutter from this vessel is sent to inspect the Sovereign.
After the events following the visit of the cutter, Dark Side of Luna turns into an action-packed piece of finest military steampunk fiction. The crew and marine detachment on board Her Majesty’s finest vessel has to investigate strange things happening on Luna, and really strange things they are. J.T. Wilson and Frank Chadwick take the reader on a ride, a tour-de-force through the dark caverns beneath Luna’s surface, where danger could lurk everywhere. Parts of it reminded me of Aliens, the 1986 movie. Marines battling aliens with unknown capabilities.
Dark Side of Luna has more to offer than just military action. The shoot-outs and daring actions are plenty, but we also revist some places from Journey to the Heart of Luna and meet some old faces, friend and foe alike.
The novel also hints at so much in the Space: 1889 & Beyond universe, it makes me itch to find out more and I can hardly wait for the upcoming new series.
What I found particularly well done was the characterisation of both the lunar natives and the, well, not really native natives. They all have their motivations and there is meaning to their actions, they are not simply there to provide a reason for action. The same is true for the Russians we meet again. Although I was at first under the impression they were treated unkindly and plastered with bad stereotypes to begin with by the authors, one of the final scenes explained a lot and changed my impression.
Dark Side of Luna also offers a number of surprises which make it even more of a page-turner than the action alone does. You just have to keep reading just to find out what is really going on.
Two points of contention I have, though: Another main native character dies serving the colonial masters and the portraial of the Native Americans, I mean, how 1950’s Western can you get? It was THEM defending their homeland, the US cavalry were the invaders, OK?
But that is all I have to complain about and this still means that Dark Side of Luna gets
Nine out of Ten Zeppelins.