(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Edward Everett Hale wrote about a variety of topics, authoring sixty books, though he wrote little science fiction. His most celebrated work in that genre, The Brick Moon, shares the concerns of his mainstream fiction and satirizes some of the traits of Hale’s native New England. The Brick Moon is a short book, sometimes referred to as a story, that combines the stories “The Brick Moon” (1869) and “Life in the Brick Moon” (1870).

Today Hale is remembered primarily for his short novel The Man Without a Country, the title work of an 1863 collection. It tells of a man who had participated in Aaron Burr’s abortive rebellion against the United States and who forswears allegiance to his country when on trial. He is condemned to spend the remainder of his life at sea, where he dies a broken man.

The Brick Moon dwells on these themes of exile and irremedial severance of ties to homeland, though it transforms them to a lighter key. Its tone is less serious; major characters are isolated not because of criminal behavior but because of their zeal to be society’s benefactors. Furthermore, they go aloft as a large party, not as one sequestered individual, and so live with genial company and clear consciences.

Unlike the more serious, earlier story, however, The Brick Moon is a satire on the manners and character of Boston. This city had established itself, up to the Civil War, as the...

(The entire section is 507 words.)