Sunday , August 1 2021

Space overview: Overview: Red moon

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Red moon
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Orbit, 2018
hardcover, 464 p.
ISBN 978-0-316-26237-8
27.00 USD

The latest novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, Red moon, was set up in 2047. China has become the dominant player on the moon with large operations on the South Pole. The United States and other players have facilities on the North Pole. China has achieved this position using the experience of massive infrastructure projects to prepare an operation that may be larger and more intensive in scope than the US Apollo project. According to the novel, President Xi Jinping secured the Chinese Communist Party's commitment to the 20 th People's Congress in 2022 to the goal "… that the moon should be a place for China's development as part of the Chinese dream." 2022 is still more than three years in the future, Robinson can strive for such a future. Xi Jinping is very praised in the book for his Moon declaration, as well as for cleaning the environment that takes place on Earth. The hills around Beijing in 2047 are green and the air is fresh and breathing, as a result of Xi's environmental policy.

China since 2047 is surrounded by major contradictions that shape the underlying story.

The novel recognizes the achievement of the United States in reaching the moon in 1969, as well as the long period of little active interest in the moon that followed. By the beginning of 2020, four "cadets-pilots" (billionaires) finance private missions to the moon. But the American public largely did not care, so the US government's efforts to reach the moon were more modest than China. Private successes set the stage for the massive access to infrastructure that was followed by China. To be sure, NASA today claims to have a strong interest in returning the moon, but its plans have yet to match budgets, and a massive lunar development strategy comparable to the Chinese one represented in Red Moon is unlikely.

China since 2047 is surrounded by major contradictions that shape the underlying story. While China manages to technologically develop the Chinese dream of the moon, the residence permit in Hukou continues to separate urban and rural Chinese into two classes of citizens. The heroine of the story is Chen Chi, "princess": the daughter of the finance minister, who is the candidate for the leadership of the party. Chi emerged as the leader of the mass movement to restore the rights of workers from rural migrants following the steps of Mao. The leadership of this future China is involved in a succession crisis, with factions competing to gain the power of the presidency. A faction includes Qi's father, finance minister. The other factions are loyal to the current leader, who has chosen a successor, as well as other candidates.

Much of the story is from the point of view of Ta Shu, who has traveled to most countries, as well as in Antarctica (where Robinson first met his audience) and continued with some of the same themes of the novel Antarctica. In that novel, the Antarctic Treaty provides a framework for activities involving more countries, while the Foreign Relations Treaty shapes the relations of the moon. No international lunar authority emerged, but the Chinese, Americans and others continually on the moon develop lunar comradeship. Ta Shu is a poet, geomancer, and feng shui expert. Feng Shui is a traditional Chinese system of principles that regulates the balanced alignment of buildings and things to accommodate the flow of Qi, the life force. The name heroine is also Qi and she is pregnant, which gives a sign of her greater role in this future created by Robinson.

The third protagonist is American Fred Fredericks, a quantum engineer working for a Swiss company that produces a quantum-encrypted phone that Fred has to install for the Chinese company on the moon. Fred is a nervous person who understands his physics. He meets Ta Shu on a spacecraft aimed at the moon, which is used with electromagnets, a technology that is used for launching from the Earth and the Moon. Upon arrival at the center of the South Pole, Fred introduces himself to Chang Yazu, governor of the Lunar Administrative Region. After shaking hands, Chang and Fred shook themselves on the ground. Fred is recovering from poisoning at the South Pole hospital and is accused of killing a governor, one of the fractions at work.

In 2047, China is in turmoil with a dynastic battle for power, while the United States is in a situation of a major financial crisis similar to the 2008 crisis, when financial manipulations fueled the wealth of many. Tens of millions choose to withdraw their funds from regular banks and put them in crypto currencies. Banks collapse. In China, tens of millions of tourists travel to Beijing to Tiananmen Square to express their dissatisfaction with their exploitation and poor quality of life. Robinson represents China as the power that can increase the Moon's capacity for development, but could not address the hook-up system in which half a billion rural residents were used to the advantage of the urban population. Qi is respected as the leader of the masses of poor people.

The barren, lifeless magnificence of the moon becomes a drama player, as Mars and the Antarctic have confirmed their presence in Robinson's novels bearing these titles. His narration of how the Moon originates speaks of his involvement with the Earth in cosmic size quantum equilibrium and the manifestation of Feng Shui, mutual planetary science with Chinese mythology and the story of Chang, the moon goddess who drank the elixir of eternal life and escaped to the moon. While the waters and minerals of rare countries are mined Red moon and Quixon helium-3 miners traversing infertile landscapes, Robinson does not demonstrate a justification for the large infrastructure developed by China on the moon. Infertile wasteland, which will be the home of scattering of scientific sites, has trains between different nodes in the Chinese part of the moon. There is a kind of Chinese "Disneyworld", a manifestation of the Chinese dream of the moon created by billionaire Fang Fei, a Chinese space entrepreneur and a friend of Ta Shu.

Robinson rejects the capacity of the "four spacecraft" for the industrial development of the moon. He also believes that the US system is unlikely to develop the political will to achieve this goal.

Total oversight and social credit rating are among the challenges facing China, forming the background Red moon. In the novel, the Great Firewall developed by the Chinese authorities to control the use of the Internet has multiple back doors and levels that allow diversity to stay. They also allow the Firewall designer to collect information in a way that can not be monitored by the authorities. Robinson points to several multi-level authorities in China who rank people at different levels without any authority that controls the surveillance and ranking of citizens. This is actually the conclusion from a recent Brookings study on social credit ratings right now. In the novel, the various authorities are in conflict.

Ta Shu is a quiet figure with links to top leadership. His student Peng Ling, with whom he maintains a close but informal contact, appears as the president of China at the end of the novel. Ta Shu helps Chi and Fred escape the forces from various combat factions. At the end of the novel, Chi and Fred are in a shelter for a solar storm on the moon, which is hiding from a Qi-seeking faction, bore a girlfriend and with the help of American Fred. Among his duties is to reduce and bind the umbilical cord with a channel, a universal solution to mechanical problems. They are warned that the shelter will be hit by a missile system from the Earth and will flee to a mining site of about 70 kilometers, which has a vehicle for emergency launch. They manage the journey and manage to enter the spacecraft and start into space from the moon to an unfamiliar future.

The structural imbalances that introduced the massive changes in China and the United States in 2047 in China are in the novel fundamental to the current structure of societies. It is unlikely that they will remain for 30 years. In Red moon, the Chinese leadership that follows Xi achieves the Moon's goal, but fails to respond to structural problems in China itself. Success is achieved through the landscaping of the country and other programs initiated by Xi. Robinson seems to point to China's new technical capacity for industrial development on the moon, but that socioeconomic problems pose a threat to the survival of both Chinese and American societies in the near future.

Robinson rejects the capacity of the "four spacecraft" for the industrial development of the moon. He also believes that the US system is unlikely to develop the political will to achieve this goal. In the words of Ta Shu:

Their billionaires returned to the moon before their state agencies, as the US government and people did not care. Their cadres were concerned, and they returned to the 2020s, but it was a private refund, involving only a few people.

People from India, Africa, Latin America and, of course, Europe can be imagined in space, but Red moon does not offer a vision of the future that includes the rest of mankind.

Will Xi provide the decision of the People's Congress in 2022 for China to realize China's dream of industrial development on the moon, can not be known. But the future Robinson launches Qi and her baby girl together with American Fred Fredericks does not seem to include the development of neighborhoods in free space, as Gerald K. advances. O'Neal 40 years ago. While Robinson has centrifuges on the moon to maintain the lunar skeletal power, he does not want to slow down the idea of ​​space-based spaces in free space, inhabiting millions of people, the vision of Jeff Bezos. Inspired by O & M Neil, Bezos sees the industry and much of the human population migrates into space, reducing the stress on the biosphere with the industries of the moon and in space that could meet Robinson's eco-vision, but Robinson does not consider it here.

Robinson does not offer any advice about the unknown future of Qi and her child and male companion. Perhaps it is meant to symbolize the life force of mankind in the turmoil of the birth of a new time, as both China and the United States enter into a time of chaos. But it does not appear that this future includes the development of space management, including forces other than G2: the United States and China. People from India, Africa, Latin America and, of course, Europe can be imagined in space, but Red moon does not offer a vision of the future that includes the rest of mankind. Robinson suggests the process of the birth of a planetary scale of space, multiple planets. There may be a continuation where the shape of the future that is born will become clearer.

Red moon can be translated into Chinese. This may be left by readers who are not adherents of the writing of Kim Stanley Robinson, disappointed in demanding a quick adventure story, rather than a tapestry that includes philosophy, quantum physics, environmental advocacy, and advocacy for social justice.

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ISPCS 2015


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