The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Moon Is Hell! recounts the experiences of the Garner Lunar Expedition, which survives on the dark side of the moon for three years during the last quarter of the twentieth century. After a prologue covering the planned two-year exploratory mission of the fifteen-man crew, Dr. Thomas Duncan’s diary takes over, detailing the crew’s survival following the crash of a rescue ship. With food, oxygen, and water supplies diminishing rapidly, the story unfolds as a documentary account of how the crew of scientists and engineers is almost able to create a completely habitable domain out of the “frozen hell” of the Moon’s surface.

Although, like a modern Christopher Columbus, Duncan reports the wonders of this new world, the real wonders turn out to be technological. The plot structure centers on Duncan’s piecemeal reports of progress on various survival projects. The first major problems the crew overcomes are a lack of water and oxygen, which they obtain from a large gypsum deposit nearby. Water is gathered by “roasting the rock,” and electrolysis provides oxygen from the water supplies.

Convenient surface deposits of silver, quartz, diamonds, tungsten, and lead provide other basics, including the raw materials for making batteries, explosives, engines, generators, cement, holding tanks for water and oxygen, and a small rocket for exploring. The rocket enables the crew to travel more easily to the Earth side of the Moon,...

(The entire section is 504 words.)