This is a science fiction romantic comedy, and here’s the complete plot spoiler: Tom gets Helene, Tom loses Helene, Tom gets Helene back. But this is a romance like no other, because it happens on the Moon, where the principal business is space ports. The port workers find it inconvenient to cycle in and out of airlocks all the time, so they live 24/7 in space suits and call themselves Moon Men.
Helene comes from Earth to the Moon on business, and after various adventures finds herself falling in love with a Moon Man named Tom. Of course she wonders how Moon Men have sex (answer: they rent a hotel room), and she also wonders how she’s going to relate to a boyfriend whose shell she literally can’t get past. But Moon Men, because they rarely have any physical contact, wear their emotional hearts way out on their hard-shelled sleeves, gossip relentlessly about each other, and moreover can read each other’s vital signs, such as blood-sugar levels, from instruments built into the suits.
The tables are turned: Tom considers Helene an impenetrable woman of mystery because he can’t tell whether her heart beats faster when she sees him, due to lack of instrument readings, and because she has a sense of personal privacy, something that no Moon Man would ever claim.
They meet, they make love in a hotel room, they fall out and Helene flees back to Earth. Tom chases after her, so deeply in love that he is willing to accept the ickiness of living on Earth, inhaling air that he knows has been exhaled from the wet lungs of strangers. They manage to work it out, and come back to the Moon to live. At the end, Tom and Helene get married in a ceremony that is sweet and romantic but, because everyone is in space suits, does not end with a kiss. They consummate their wedding with a dance together, celebrating a love made of vacuum!
Some reviews, mostly from friends, which is why I’m just identifying them by first name:
Deborah wrote: Thank you for letting me read this. I actually finished a few days ago, but I had to figure out why I liked it so much.
It is a very traditional love story (A meets B, loses B, they reconnect and happy ending). This story has the flavor of the old fashioned science-fiction books I read in the 1950s but, with a very 21st century sense of humor.
I really liked Tom and Helene, the way they connected, their decision to enjoy the time they had together and the very real obstacles to any long-term relationship; they really are from different worlds. Coming full circle with a wedding at the end to match the beginning was delightful. (I have always liked weddings.)
But, for me, the absolute best part of the story is the Moon Men. I find them and their culture fascinating and now I want to read more stories set in their world. They seem just this side of telepathic and they make it work; even the Gregor/Yeni honeymoon problems made me go “awww”.
Kim wrote: Compulsively good read!
I loved it. I started it yesterday and finished it on the way in to work this morning. Funny, smart, touching, and would make an absolutely fabulous movie! I want to spend more time with these people. Got a sequel planned? Oh, and one suggestion. More baby balls. Way more baby balls. Like, some goo goo gaa gaa with a baby in a ball.
Phil Foglio (the famous comic artist, but also a personal friend of mine) wrote: It’s always nice when one’s friends actually produce something worth talking about. On a recent trip back to Chicago, I learned that Charles Ott, a fellow I’d worked with in Moebius Theatre (all we did was science fiction improvisational comedy, which some people said was a bit one-sided. Get it?), has written a couple of novels, and I’m here to tell you that they are pretty darn good, and well worth your time. The one I’m talking about today, is Something Made Of Vacuum. Chuck was pleased because it was a science fiction romantic comedy, which is a sub-genre you don’t see much. This is a fine example however, and the characters are engaging from the get-go. However the thing I found most interesting was the society Chuck came up with. It takes place on the surface of the moon, and the native “Moon Men” live 24/7 inside their moon suits, which do everything for them, and a good thing too, as they don’t bother with actual buildings or many physical possessions. I mean, Marie Kondo looks like a hoarder compared to these guys. It’s a concept that seems alien when I describe it cold, but Chuck’s writing made it all seem perfectly natural, and I could really see this as a viable future. If you enjoy science fiction that transports you to someplace Different, then I heartily recommend it. Furthermore, I don’t know if this is deliberate marketing, but if you decide to eschew owning a physical copy, it’s free to read on the Kindle from Amazon. Or you can splurge for a hard copy, which will set you back a whole ten bucks. Either way, a pretty sweet deal.
Tom T (who is not anybody I know, but read Phil’s review, above, and was nice enough to send me an email) wrote: Are you the same Charles Ott who wrote “Something Made Of Vacuum”?
If so, my sincere thanks. It was a quick but very enjoyable read.