It is entirely possible that humans will one day live on The Moon. Which means it’s also entirely possible that one day a human will murder another human on The Moon. Until that happens, though, we’ll just have to satisfy our bloodlust with Gunpowder Moon (paperback, Kindle), a new sci-fi mystery novel by David Pedreira.
To begin, what is Gunpowder Moon about?
It’s a near future science fiction thriller about the first murder on The Moon, and how that murder will cause the first war on The Moon if a mining chief and his crew can’t figure out who did it and why.
Gunpowder Moon is set in 2072, which is fifty-four years from now. Is there a reason you set the story then, as opposed to in a hundred years or a thousand?
I wanted it to be a gritty, realistic look at the frontier days of lunar colonization. It is speculative, of course, but I believe we’ll be mining resources on The Moon in fifty years, with similar tech to what’s in the book. And I think we’ll be fighting for resources in space, starting around that time, if not sooner.
Is there also a reason why you made the main character of Gunpowder Moon, Caden Dechert, a Marine as opposed to a soldier in the Army or someone who lived through a war?
No particular reason on the Marine part, other than the fact that they tend to get deployed forward very early in military conflicts and see a lot of action. Of course, the same could be said of Army, Navy, and Air Force units, so his being an ex-Marine doesn’t hold any special importance. Though Dechert did fight in a very nasty war in Lebanon prior to coming to The Moon, and his experience during that conflict drives a lot of his motivations in the book.
It’s funny you mention that. I picked Dechert’s name at random; I just saw it one day in everyday life and liked it. But as I was writing the book, I quickly realized people might ask that question. I’m a Philip K. Dick fan, so if people look at it as homage to his work, I’m cool with that.
In Gunpowder Moon, people think The Moon smells like gunpowder. Is this a real thing?
The Moon does smell like gunpowder! Every Apollo astronaut noticed it. Selenologists aren’t really sure why; it’s one of the many strange things about lunar regolith, or moondust.
Weird. The thing is, Gunpowder Moon sounds like it could also be the name of a Jim Thompson novel. Or a Neil Young song. Is there anything Jim Thompson-y about Gunpowder Moon? Or Neil Young-ian?
I don’t know. I like hardboiled crime fiction, particularly Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and Gunpowder Moon certainly has a strong mystery element, but I’m not sure it falls into that noir realm.
As for Neil Young, there are numerous musical references in the book, from J.J. Cale to Led Zeppelin. Young isn’t mentioned, but there’s a frontier feel to the book, and a dark view of colonial exploitation, so I’d be okay with the connection. And I’m a fan of his. Whenever my guitar is in a dropped tuning I give a few Neil Young songs a go.
Aside from Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, are there any other writers or novels that had a big impact on Gunpowder Moon, but are not ones you’d consider a big influence on your writing style as a whole?
Continuing on the mystery theme, I definitely drew some things from the plot devices of Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. On the science fiction side, I’d cite Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula LeGuin as general influences. And I was a big fan of political thrillers and spy novels growing up, so I’d point to John Le Carre, Len Deighton, and the early works of Tom Clancy. Also, I’d cite the literary journalism of Michael Herr, Joan Didion, and Ernie Pyle, and even some historical fiction. And I love how Colleen McCullough drew her Masters Of Rome series [The First Man In Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune’s Favorites, Caesar’s Women, Caesar, The October Horse, and Anthony And Cleopatra] like elaborate chess games.
How about non-literary influences; are there any movies, TV shows, or video games that had a big impact on Gunpowder Moon?
I’m a science fiction geek in general, and I wanted to make Gunpowder Moon a visual, cinematic book, so movies and TV shows certainly had some influence. I love the claustrophobic feel of Alien, and the visual grandeur of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And I’m sure there are some bits of Apollo 13 in there as well.
As for TV shows, I wrote the book before The Expanse came out, but some people have seen similarities between the two.
One of the big things in sci-fi lately is for books to not be stand-alone novels, but instead be part of a larger saga. Is Gunpowder Moon a stand-along novel, the first book in a series, and why is it whatever it is?
It’s hopefully the first in a series, because I think there are more areas to explore in this early, pioneer world of space colonization. We’re talking to Harper Voyager about a sequel now. I doubt the characters in Gunpowder Moon would make it past a trilogy, but their descendants could occupy a similar yet more distant world. I like the idea of weaving a universe that branches off into the future. Stephen King has these subtle threads joining many of his novels, and I would highly recommend any novelist emulating his techniques. But right now I’m just thinking about the sequel, which I hope to have more news on soon.
So has there been any interest in adapting Gunpowder Moon into a movie, TV show, or video game?
There’s been interest from both movie and TV studios, but nothing has been put to paper. I’d be thrilled with either. A TV series that expands on the story would be great, but of course, so would a stand-alone movie. I tried to take a cinematic approach to writing the book, so I think it translates well to the screen.
If Gunpowder Moon was to be made into a movie or TV show, who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?
Now we’re really getting speculative. I could see a lot of actors playing Caden Dechert. Maybe Denzel Washington [Training Day] or Tom Hardy [Mad Max: Fury Road]? As for Lane Briggs, my vote would be Emily Blunt [Edge Of Tomorrow]. I think she’s fantastic: tough, but with a depth of feeling.
Finally, if someone enjoys Gunpowder Moon, what science fiction thriller would you suggest they read next and why that one?
How about The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch? It looks cool. Or Sea Of Rust by C. Robert Cargill? I have that one on my nightstand next to Linda Nagata’s The Last Good Man, which I’m also excited to read.