172 Hours on the Moon -- exclusive excerpt


38 Responses to “172 Hours on the Moon -- exclusive excerpt”

  1. caipirina says:

    Let me guess … they find a stash of weapons and hear instructions that they have to kill each other until only one is left ??? 

  2. tyger11 says:

    So is this a YA re-imagining of the movie Apollo 18?

  3. Henry Pootel says:

    Tantalum seventy-three – that’s a MacGuffinite bearing ore isn’t it?

  4. robuluz says:

    It was a dark and stormy night on the moon…..

    • Jens Alfke says:

      That first sentence is really Bulwer-Lytton-worthy, isn’t it? Even the archaic use of the last name “——”, which I thought had been outlawed since the Armistice. Let’s have that again:

      “Gentlemen, it’s time,” Dr. —– said, eyeing the seven some of the most powerful people in the country, together in the largest meeting room at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

      That’s some tasty cardboard, there.

  5. okalokee says:

    Boy, I hope the actual text is better copyedited than what’s pasted up here. Me, I’ll stick to the webcomics version: http://nobodyscores.loosenutstudio.com/index.php?id=552

  6. Russell says:

    Yeah nah I’ll pass.

  7. Eark_the_Bunny says:

    You see there is this giant black monolith on the moon and we have to…

  8. Will Bueche says:

    Exposition overdose. 

  9. niktemadur says:

    Very nice cover art, I’ve gotta say.

  10. oldtaku says:

    > “In principal, yes,” replied the man,

    I am really trying to be charitable here, but is there not even an editor?

  11. I’m afraid I have to concur with oldtaku, Erk, Jens et al. 

    The gods know that I *know* how hard it is to write good SF: I fail at it frequently.  But I’m very much afraid that this isn’t anywhere near it, or even near competent writing. 

    There are multiple cliche. There are multiple basic science and history blunders (and if anyone even *thinks* that this can be excused because it’s a YA, I’ll scream).  There is a very annoying and probably pointless withholding of information.   There is lack of proofreading.   And most of all, there is over 1500 words of exposition which completely fails to justify the initial premise.

    My apologies to Mr Harstaad.  As I said, I know how hard it is to get this stuff right.  I don’t have space here to do a gentle, supportive point-by-point (which he certainly deserves). But someone should have told him before he published.

    (If anyone considers me too harsh: I apologise; probably due to my short time as a “reader” for a publisher, when I saw a number of really good novels rejected.)

  12. ruzkin says:

    Can I ask, how does one get their novels into the hands of the BB team?

  13. Lyall Ward says:

    I admire this practical exposition on stringing together cliches. 

  14. Audio Virus says:

    Why BB forgot to mention that this is an english translation of a norwegian novel (the languages don’t cross over very well, so the book is better than it might sound quoted out of context here), is beyond me. Why not quote the (a bit more exciting) backside blurb instead? It gives more of an impression of what the book is actually about:

    “It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. Now three ordinary teenagers, the winners of NASA’s unprecedented, worldwide lottery, are about to become the first young people in space–and change their lives forever.

    Mia, from Norway, hopes this will be her punk band’s ticket to fame and fortune.

    Midori believes it’s her way out of her restrained life in Japan.

    Antoine, from France, just wants to get as far away from his ex-girlfriend as possible.

    It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but little do the teenagers know that something sinister is waiting for them on the desolate surface of the moon. And in the black vacuum of space… no one is coming to save them.

    In this chilling adventure set in the most brutal landscape known to man, highly acclaimed Norwegian novelist Johan Harstad creates a vivid and frightening world of possibilities we can only hope never come true.”(…)

    I have read this novel in norwegian and while I have to admit I’m probably older than its target group, this novel really engaged me: Not particularly because of its writing style (SF isn’t popular for its writing, but for its concepts and the ‘what if…’s it dreams up), but because it reads like a thriller and a horror story at the same time: It’s actually quite chilling, them being stranded on a deserted moonbase with strange goings-on, and a nameless evil creeping stadily closer… I read the entire book in one sitting, not because it’s a masterpiece or anything, but because it to me was a cleverly constructed psychological thriller, with a SF/horror bent. And very enjoyable, aside from the occasional ‘trying to be hip moments’ (the character Mia quoting Talking Heads). I enjoyed it a lot, and once it got me hooked, it just kept getting better…. I hope BB’s inability to show the promises of this book haven’t completely put off readers, because i think it deserves an audience, and if you can get past the bad english translation, it’s well worth reading, I think…

    (Oh, and I don’t know why the english version have changed the original title from “DARLAH: 172 hours on the moon”- Darlah being the name of the sinister moonbase in the book- to just the subtitle “172 hours on the moon”, maybe they thought it sounded better or something, but it’s a ‘lost in translation’ moment which doesn’t really make sense, or add anything else than making the book sound more childish than it really is, I wish they’d kept it…)

    • penguinchris says:

      I’m willing to grant that the original Norwegian is of course going to be better, but the synopsis you quote doesn’t make it sound that much better than what Mark provided. It sounds like the synopsis from any one of hundreds of disposable YA sci-fi novels from the 90′s – the ones so inane they did me a favor by pushing me to start reading “adult” books at a very young age. The part describing the characters reminded me of the Goosebumps series for some reason.

      To be clear: I fully believe that there’s something to the book and that it’s worth reading (to the right audience) but both the excerpt and the synopsis you quote aren’t doing it any favors. It needs better marketing material, and probably a better translation as well.

      • Audio Virus says:

        It was pretty badly written in the original aswell: Lots of clunky, stilted writing… I’m not a ‘fan’ in any way, but since I honestly believes that BB’s original post (and the translators) didn’t exactly do the author any favours, I decided to raise my voice and try to give him some support, if that could help him get one more reader among the few lost souls which hadn’t already fled with the 99% of the readers already scared off by BB’s OP… (Ah, look- now *my* writing gets bad and clunky- it’s contagious! AAAAARRGGHHHH…!)

  15. 5onthe5 says:

    I bet this book was originally just called “172 Hours” but then the publisher freaked out at the 11th hour and insisted they add “ON THE MOON!”

    • 5onthe5 says:

      like the John Carter Of Mars thing but in reverse.

    • hadlockk says:

      My author buddy recommended this on facebook, and I probably would have skipped over it if it hadn’t said “ON THE MOON” in the title. I’m currently about a quarter of the way through it right now.

  16. OgilvyTheAstronomer says:

    That was some seriously terrible writing.

    (EDIT: Or some seriously terrible translation)

  17. Jas Strong says:

    So… this is the first time Boing Boing has failed me when it comes to SF.

    I bought this book last night and read it.   Besides the terribly wooden writing, which I guess is excusable due to being translated and all, there are literally dozens of basic factual errors.  For a start, the author was apparently unaware of the fact that a lunar day is a month long.  Then there’s the fact that it devolves into a stupid horror cliche, the nasty stereotypes plastered everywhere, the basically inexplicable ending, the fact that it spends ages building sympathy with the characters and then kills them off (in a woefully unsatisfying way, at that)…

    This book is crap and I want my ten bucks back.

  18. Conor Sleith says:

    Why do they keep calling it tantalum 73. Is this just redundancy for the sake of sounding fancy, a misunderstanding of how isotopes are referenced, or are they really looking for an isotope with no neutrons?

  19. desperado says:

    On the topic of translation:

    My wife is Norwegian.  For two languages that are really only separated by ~1000 years (Norman conquest of England+viking raids), the gulf between Norwegian and English is absurdly vast.

    I’ve achieved fluency in Spanish, took 16 hours of Japanese courses, and another 16 of general linguistics.

    I am having a MUCH harder time learning Norsk than I ever did with the previous two.  The subtext and subtle meanings of words eludes me far more than it ever did in Japanese.

    The sing song tones, and the changing of meaning based upon them, I doubt I will ever grasp.

    I REALLY do not envy whomever translated this work, and I suspect that much was lost in translation, resulting in this rather stale prologue.

    • Jas Strong says:

      It’s not a problem with the translation, because the plot is stale and poorly implemented, the characters are laughable, and the twist at the end is horribly implemented.  I only made it to the end because I couldn’t believe BB would recommend such a terrible book, and I thought there must be something really good coming up to redeem it.  There wasn’t.

  20. desperado says:

    This IS a novel I will buy my daughter, when she gets a little older, in both Norsk and English.

    I mean, she’ll get to compare the two and engage in critical thinking, AND I get to introduce her to Space as an interest.

  21. sarah shevett says:

    well at least it seems that there are SOME females in this book..

  22. GrueHunter says:

    “Gentlemen,” Dr —– interrupted hesitatingly, “what is the Moon anyway?”  He smiled smilingly.

    The man held up a hand with five fingers.  “Several mechanisms have been proposed for the Moon’s formation 4.527 ± 0.010 billion years ago, some 30–50 million years after the origin of the Solar System.  I mean, we all knew that, but I just thought we needed some more exposition here.  Young adults are total morons, you know.”


    “Yes, it is.”

    “I agree.”

    “I do like it when we alternate between long back-and-forths and the jaw-grindingly tedious overuse of flowery adverbs.”

    Dr —- grimaced slyly, then added “I also concur with that earlier, shorter statement, and I would like to make a slightly longer statement making it clear that I’m a somewhat menacing, callous character.  Not here, where I’m speaking.  Back there, at the start, when I grimaced.  I mean, grimaced slyly.”

  23. MinuteBot says:

    The Movie of what happened is here: http://www.ironsky.net/

  24. Chris Hinkle says:

    I just finished this book, and the criticisms are accurate. I think my biggest complaint is that the foreshadowing used in many places so blatant that it’s like walking up to an old house and seeing a huge sign saying, “Don’t go in here because it’s haunted and someone will kill you if you do and you won’t survive and, just really, don’t open the door at all.  Okay?”

    And this may be due to the translation, but I was really irked at the repeated references to Talking Heads, one of the main character’s favorite bands, as “The Talking Heads.”  Ugh.  Why not The Death Cab for Cutie instead? 

    Finally, there was little acknowledgement that in 2019, things aren’t going to be quite the same, such as needing 3 700-page manuals for space training (OK, I haven’t been to space training, but maybe a little creative futurism could have made the book not seem outdated in 2012). That and the frequent use of pay phones.  Are there any left? If so, probably not in the hallway of a nursing home.

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