Underneath the Moon by Dan Holt

HoltUnderneathTheMoonWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: J. Scott Bennett

Publisher: MaxHoltMedia (2015)

Length: 7 hours 49 minutes

Author’s Page

The discovery is more than Doug Hastings can believe. After all, it was just a little project enhancing a large collection of old Apollo Missions moon photos. He didn’t expect anything like this! Yet, now, who should he involve? An abandoned and deteriorated glass city on the surface of the moon was probably noticed back then, so he’s not the only one who knows about it now. Doug pushes forward, pulling in folks he trusts. Plans are laid and an adventure set upon.

This story started off pretty exciting. The first person Doug tells about his discovery is his retired linguistics specialist wife Karen. Then he lets his good friend Dave Jensen know. After all, it was Dave’s father’s trunk of old photos that gave Doug this discovery. The men and their wives chat it over and they quickly conclude that there was no way the Apollo Mission crews missed this, so there had to be a cover up. This means they have to be careful who they let in on it. They start pulling in more trusted friends and friends of friends. Al Billington, who is retired from NASA personnel staffing gets roped in by Isaac Jensen, Dave’s father. Doug calls up an accountant friend, Melvin Simpson. If they plan to take this to the moon, they will need a budget, which means they will need an accountant. Professor Charles Liggens is tapped to be the anthropologist. Al gives Colonel Marvin Dean Andrews, a retired astronaut, a call and he’s more than happy to be a part of the team.

Meanwhile, there are forces working against them. The security guard at Doug’s work, Arnold Gavin, is the first to sound the alarm. He doesn’t know what he’s looking at, but he was ordered to report anything unusual he came across – like a glass city. Agent Allen Bruster puts some private investigators in place. Later, not only is the FBI involved, but also the CIA. A cloak and dagger game develops between Doug’s team and these agencies.

The pacing of the tale is pretty steady throughout. There’s very little ups or downs. A few little jokes here and there liven things up along with the G-rated run ins with the PIs. Eventually Doug’s team finds an investor, Michael Sheridan, and an inventor, Frank Gordon, to assist them in their plans to go to the moon to investigate the glass city. The story picks up a bit in pace at this point but still remains pretty level until near the end. While the level of excitement rises at the end, there was no big crescendo. The ending is suppose to be a climactic punch, but I felt it lacked emotion and oompf.

For much of the story, the tale keeps things well grounded with what is plausible. I liked this about the story and it matched the collective experience of Doug’s team, which in large are retired or close to retired personnel. But then they get a ticket to the moon and, while they discuss it, it’s decided that no agency on Earth will really mind that someone is sending an unscheduled ship to the moon. I was OK letting that one slide for the sake of the pacing of the story. But then we get this one reference to Stonehenge and how it must have been a laser…. ummm… OK. That was simply taking the science out of this science fiction story. Finally, we get to the moon and things get back on track with exploring. Lots of nifty things going on here and some language they can’t decipher. Too bad the men didn’t bring along their one linguistic expert, Karen. In fact, she’s not even assigned to the ground crew, though I think at least one of the ladies got a little telecommunications smooch time with her man while he was in space. Finally, the big large secret is discovered and it didn’t float my boat.

Speckled throughout the tale were these tiny snippets of something out there somewhen potentially scoping out the moon or Earth. These little bits were brief and I couldn’t tell if they were from the past or happening in sync with the activities of Doug’s crew. In the end, I think they were blasts from the past trying to prep us readers for what they would find in the glass city. While they initially heightened my anticipation for adventuring in the glass city, I never got a full picture from them. I think they were a little too vague and in the end didn’t add much to the final scenes.

So let’s talk about the ladies. Now, this story is set in the 1990s. Several women (the wives of Doug’s team) get names and careers and interests. However, they are written like they are from the 1960s or such. The men get together and the women go off in the other room for tea and gossip. No ladies get to go on the mission. While they get to sit around their little impromptu ground control center, they don’t get to do anything of note. Al runs the coms and checks. In fact, the opposing team doesn’t have any ladies either – no female PIs or women CIA agents sneaking about. Obviously, this was a pretty glum representation of women of the 90s.

Did I like the story? Was it worth my time? A hesitant yes. I liked the initial set up. Doug’s (re)discovery of a glass city on the moon had me hooked from the beginning. I liked that Doug’s team weren’t naive or idiots. I even didn’t mind the ease with which they found their investor and inventor that allowed them to make it to the moon in record time. Some of the moon discoveries were pretty interesting, even as others didn’t wow me. So if you are looking for a scifi tale that hearkens back to the classics of the 1950s, then this might be the story for you.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: J. Scott Bennett did a really good job with this book. There’s tons of male characters and he kept them all distinct using various regional accents and a few foreign accents. The ladies all sounded like ladies, though they didn’t have nearly as many lines as the men. Bennett used a British accent for the small snippets of the foreign entity speckled throughout the book. I think his British accent was steadier in Marley – The Other Christmas Carol, but I still liked that he made the effort here.

What I Liked: Great set up; secret cover up; glass city on the moon!; Doug’s crew aren’t idiots; some of the moon discoveries. 

What I Disliked: Ladies are underrepresented and under utilized; that silly Stonehenge reference; the little alien entity snippets never coalesced for me; the final big discovery on the moon didn’t wow me.

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