Friday, 28 March 2014
The Nature Of The Catastrophe And The Point Of The Story
There are three kinds of vehicle on the Lunar surface:
a four-wheeled, egg-shaped Go-Devil can travel at 50 mph;
the more common eight-wheeled, oblong turtle manages 20 mph max;
a lead-armored tank, "...screened by intense magnetic fields..." (p. 61) is necessary in daylight during solar flare periods - at other times, thermostatic suits are sufficient to protect against a temperature at the boiling point of water.
There are no roads, only safe routes marked by luminous stones a kilometer apart. Anderson visually imagines this detail: "...the coal-like mineral crust..." (p. 55) scatters Earthlight so that a vehicle seems to move in a blue spotlight. (Earth is four times the size of the Moon seen from Earth and many times brighter.)
Small meteorite showers on long-period orbits strike unexpectedly. When a rock hits the surface, it scatters material that can wreck a vehicle. When the Zairean Minister of Technology's Go-Devil is wrecked, Mark Jordan rescues him in a turtle but, when the turtle also is wrecked, the Minister must learn how to run on the Moon in order to reach Jordan Station before a lethal sunrise: "Push, glide, come down, check." (p. 62)
Grateful for the rescue, the Minister offers to pay for the Jordans to receive an education and start a career on Earth and now we reach the point of the story, which is is the same as that of Robert Heinlein's Future History short story, "It's Great To Be Back!" Lunar colonists are at home on the Moon. Why would they go to Earth?