Long-haul trucking on the Moon…with raiders, romance and a secret mission.
Teenage orphan Crater Trueblood was plucked from the Helium-3 mines by lunar kingpin Colonel Medaris because he’s an “honest man who was above suspicion and also easily manipulated.” Trueblood suddenly finds himself scouting for a convoy headed for Armstrong City and charged with picking up a mysterious package. In the course of an eventful trip, Crater survives numerous natural hazards out in the “big suck,” learns how to deal with rambunctious truckers (much like herding cats) and plays various high-speed low-gravity sports. He also hooks up with the Colonel’s mercurial granddaughter Maria and battles genetically altered superwarriors with help from a vacuum-suited horse and a Tribble-like supercomputer. Tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek, Hickam tucks in rough-and-ready characters with names like Nitro Ned and Unlisted Sally, along with ballads (“All I want is a moon dust girl, / Down in a crater waitin’ for love….”), sexist comments, running jokes and prayers to the “Big Miner.” As he leaves his protagonist at the brink of a war with Earth and determined to “keep his homeland safe,” sequels are plainly in the offing.
High adventure on the space frontier. The horse is a nice touch. (Science fiction. 11-13)