The Hard Side of the Moon
By Hugh A. D. Spencer
Sure, a lot of genre fiction can start to sound the same after a while. There are conventions to respect and boxes to check. But SF is probably the biggest tent of them all, and a book like The Hard Side of the Moon by Toronto author Hugh A. D. Spencer stretches the old familiar fabric in so many new and original ways it’s a treat that leaves you not only wondering where it’s going at every turn, but where you’ve been at the end.
Matthew Bishop is a young man slowly going nowhere in 1970s Alberta – making robot mannequins, working as a campus radio DJ, falling in and out of relationships – when destiny comes calling in the shape of his mother’s new boyfriend. It turns out he’s an employee of Progressive Apparatus, a mysterious organization that readers familiar with Spencers’s other work will recognize (most recently in his story collection The Progressive Apparatus). Before long Matthew is working as an “intern” in a slave labour camp on the moon, doing work related to a plan involving aliens harnessing human brain power.
A loving satire not only of SF but its fan culture as well, Spencer has written a novel that’s both lighthearted and, in its final pages, profound.