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A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke

Posted by RB Kollannur on August 19, 2012

Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 18/08/2012

RB Kollannur

Publisher – Hachette; Year of Publication – 1961; Pages – 224; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs. 139

A Fall of Moondust is a scientific riddle. You are in a cave-in in the middle of nowhere. Nobody knows where you are or how deep you have fallen and to make things worse, air is running out and you will soon choke to death if you are not rescued. But there is hope. You were travelling in a truck full of tourists at the time of the cave-in so the utilities within the truck are available to you. Also, some of the passengers may be able to help you out, provided they don’t set themselves on fire for fear of death. The question is how you will call for help and save yourself and everyone onboard the truck.

And you are on the moon.

Arthur C Clarke is one of the pioneers of science fiction, especially in Hollywood. His “2001: A Space Odyssey” is regarded as one of the momentous occasions in Hollywood so much so that Samsung quoted scenes from the movie to tell US courts that they did not copy Apple. Clarke, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert A Heinlein, is often considered the greatest science fiction writer of the past century.

A Fall of Moondust is a book about scientific ingenuity. The alien climate of the moon adds on unforeseen difficulties that can thwart even the most formidable mind. The travellers were skiing over a sea of dust on the moon when they encounter a crevice left behind by a moonquake. An envelope of dust covers them, blocking all signals to the outside world and they are left to their own devices to save their lives.

Clarke writes a nerve-wracking tale of survival filled with obstacles impeding the doomed crew in their attempts to reach the surface. But he sticks to his scientific reasoning for most part which makes the novel an interesting read since the plot has a consistent logic to it. It is a scenario that can very well happen even on earth perhaps underwater or under an avalanche or even a mine collapse.

While our intrepid travellers are figuring a way out for escape, attempts are being made on the surface of moon to rescue them. But with difficulty in finding and contacting them beneath the dust, every minute spend without success becomes a minute closer to death. With no way out for dirty air, the truck gets filled with carbon dioxide which can gradually poison the breather. Time is running out for the passengers and the decreasing amount of breathable air makes the crucial decisions even more troublesome since there isn’t enough air for everyone to breathe.


One Response to “A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke”

  1. […] on 03/08/2012 22) Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons – Published on 10/08/2012 23) A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke – Published on […]

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