Novel Review: Red Moon

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s most recent novel, he takes us to the moon as he once did to Mars, and it seems likely we’re witnessing the start of a new series.

The moon, it seems, is a harsh-ish mistress.

Title: Red moon
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
First published October 23, 2018

ISBN-10: 0316262374
ISBN-13: 978-0316262378

Available from Amazon,, and as a kindle.


Thirty years from novel, China and the U.S. have established small lunar colonies. A murder soon forces an American techie and a Chinese political figure to go on the lam together, against a background of political machinations, an inconvenient pregnancy, an emerging AI, and a celebrity reporter/vlogger’s interventions.

High Points:

The novel’s reflections on China, the ultimately long-game-playing nation, and the next phase of colonialism, are worthy of consideration, and they give the work a depth that plot and characters don’t quite achieve.

Low Points:

Robinson has always been a political writer. I have no objection to the fact, though, like many political writers, he needs to temper the political discussions a little. The book’s open ending may not appeal to all readers. Red Mars, part of a larger whole, feels like a complete novel. Red Moon feels like the opening chapter.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Imagery: 6/6 Robinson remains justly famous for his descriptions of places he could never have visited. We don’t have quite the landscapes we saw in the Mars Trilogy, but his accounts of places on the moon work very well.

Story: 4/6 Red Moon serves up an interesting, if meandering, political thriller with many ideas. It does not cohere as well as Robinson’s best work.

Characterization: 5/6 Characterization is fine, but I found only Ta Shu to be particularly memorable. Robinson also writes an interesting, emerging AI, who may be the only character to show any noteworthy growth and development.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Editing: 5/6

Overall score: 4/6 Although the book feels like an opening chapter, it appears to be in continuity with Antarctica (1997), and could loosely be connected with several of Robinson’s other novels. It’s a bold book, but not Robinson’s best.

In total, Red Moon receives 31/42