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by Ben Bova

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Ballantine

"Welcome to Moonbase!" So begins this slyly amusing divertissement and bit of pro-space agitprop by Bova, former editor of Omni and Analog. Bova cleverly disguises his argument for a return to Luna in the form of a manual for workers—engineers, astronomers, doctors, attorneys—arriving on the moon for a one-year stint. He even throws in a sample contract between Moonbase, Inc. and employee, The manual explains the primary economic reason for a lunar base: to supply raw materials for earth-orbiting factories. Happily, the somber practicality behind the venture doesn't preclude fun: by the mid-21st century, humans also go to the moon as saucereyed tourists, eager to enjoy two unique pastimes—human-powered flight (a cinch in the moon's low gravity) and the chance to plant their footprints in lunar soil. Bova covers every aspect of lunar life, from personal hygiene (ultrasonic scrubbers in lieu of showers) to education (Moonbase U., founded 2023). A crafty lunarian, he peppers his mock manual with nifty little mock facts: that the first person buried on the moon is (will be?) Orlando Chavez, former US president; that the first lunar birth occurs on May 16, 2011, to a Russian; that the first astronaut to return to the moon after humankind's long hiatus is no more of a poet than Nell Armstrong, uttering the utterly forgettable sentence, "We're back, and this time we're here to stay." Great fun for kiddy astronauts, armchair explorers, and collectors of pseudo-documents.