Tag Archives: Alan Smale

Hot Moon (Apollo Rising Book One) by Alan Smale Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Set in an alternate historical world, the crew of the latest Apollo mission to the moon in 1979 finds themselves in a battle for the United State’s claim to their portion of the moon as soviet strike teams assault their base, and tensions run high in the height of the Cold War in author Alan Smale’s “Hot Moon”, the first book in the Apollo Rising series. 


The Synopsis

Imagine for a second what would have happened if the Soviets had gotten a cosmonaut to the moon first, if Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 had been in a humiliating second place. Everything would have unfolded differently.

America would never have let the Soviets win the space race. That would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, political suicide for any president. We’d have gritted our teeth and doubled down, poured billions into the Apollo program.

HOT MOON is set in 1979 in this alternate world. The US and the Soviets both have permanent moon bases, orbiting space stations, and manned spy satellites supported by frequent rocket launches. Reagan is President and the Cold War is hotter than ever.

The crew of Apollo 32, commanded by Vivian Carter, career astronaut, docks at NASA’s Columbia space station on their way to their main mission: exploring the volcanic Marius Hills region of the Moon. Vivian is caught in the crossfire as four Soviet Soyuz craft appear without warning to assault the orbiting station.

The fight for the Moon has begun!

The Review

This was such an intricate and detailed sci-fi meets historical fiction read. The world-building and tension the author brings to life by utilizing the backdrop of the Cold War was an inspired choice, especially given how integral the space race was to the Cold War. I loved how the author was able to use their background and expertise to delve into the heavier aspects of the sci-fi genre, while also incorporating much of the Cold War era tech and political leanings that would have made up the majority of this book’s cast of characters. The technical aspects of the narrative were felt immediately, with the main character breaking down the technical details of their space suit and how an AK-47 could fire in space. Even the opening of the book has diagrams, blueprints, and maps that relate to the tech that would have been available at that time.

It was the cast of characters that really made this story shine. The author did an amazing job of capturing the POV of both sides of the Cold War through these characters, allowing readers to see events from both the U.S. and Soviet Union sides of the war as the action unfolds. The strength and courage of the protagonist Vivian Carter was inspiring to read about and added a human depth to the sci-fi heavy narrative.

The Verdict

Intriguing, adrenaline-fueled, and engaging, author Alan Smale’s “Hot Moon” is the perfect sci-fi meets political thriller and historical fiction read and the best start to the Apollo Rising series! The imagery and atmosphere that the author built really gave a great cinematic quality to the author’s writing and allowed for the political intrigue and suspense to build quietly as readers delved deeper and deeper into this entertaining world the author built. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Alan Smale is a professional astronomer, but his writing tastes have always veered more towards alternate and twisted history, fantasy, and horror. His novella of Romans in ancient America, “A Clash of Eagles” in Panverse Two, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and the first book in a trilogy set in the same universe, CLASH OF EAGLES, appeared in 2015 from Del Rey in the US and Titan Books in the UK and Europe. The series continues with EAGLE IN EXILE (March 2016) and will conclude with EAGLE AND EMPIRE (2017). Alan has sold 40 short stories  magazines including Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, Abyss & Apex, Paradox, and Scape, and original anthologies Panverse One and Two, Apollo’s Daughters, Book of Dead Things, and Writers of the Future #13.

Alan grew up in England, and has degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford University. He serves as director of an astrophysical archive, and performs research on black hole binaries at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Alan also sings bass with well-known vocal band The Chromatics, and is co-creator of their educational AstroCappella project.