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The Moon and the Other

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  677 ratings  ·  127 reviews
In the middle of the twenty-second century, over three million people live in underground cities below the moon’s surface. One city-state, the Society of Cousins, is a matriarchy, where men are supported in any career choice, but no right to vote—and tensions are beginning to flare as outside political intrigues increase.

After participating in a rebellion that caused his m
Hardcover, 597 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  677 ratings  ·  127 reviews

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Manuel Antão
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Society of Cousins: “The Moon and the Other” by John Kessel

“[…]’The One and the Other’. But who is the One, and who is the Other, eh? Male or female?”

In “The Moon and the Other” by John Kessel

I feel that there is a big dividing line between good authors and great authors in science fiction and fantasy; I always find that there are loads of books where I enjoyed the characterisation and romped along in the story and had a good time
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and drop an RTC on y’all. I read this novel back in August and between then and now I just haven’t been able to collect my thoughts on it in any coherent way. I will say that it is my favorite SF novel of the 2017 calendar year – you should get it and read it now. I’ll explain why soon enough, I promise.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Moon!

This is an awesome epic, but let me clarify this. This isn't Ian McDonald novel, but it *IS* as deep and complex in its interpersonal explorations, its social experiments, and more for its thought-experiment.

I'm honestly astonished by this man's writing. It's like reading a mix between John Varley and Ian McDonald, only we focus on how a planned matriarchal city on the Moon might look like from within and from without. Domed cities, flight in the open air, scientific exploration... all
This book has the making of a true classic. Just like my friend Rachel said, it is unfathomable that the book is not among the nominees of Hugo Awards this year. It is thought-provoking and should be up there with giants like Brave New World since it presents one brave, new world. Set in not-too-distant-future, as in 2149, The Moon and the Other takes a look at a lunar society full of social experiments. We are introduced to the Society of Cousins, a matriarchal community where men are encourage ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
4.5 stars rounded up to 5. I've been dying to get my hands on this since I first heard about it. The size of it kept putting me off because I already feel so far behind on my reading. Though the chapters were long they were broken up by interesting little tidbits- media clips, news reports, interviews, poems, etc. So it's six hundred pages, but they go by quick.

It took until about chapter 5 for me to really become invested in the novel. I was enjoying one story line more than the other but after
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
(I'm reviewing a Simon & Schuster ARC of the book)

The precise details in this book really transport you into a plausible future. The people of Earth have carried their struggles over to the moon. Though technology has advanced, the engineering of human society has lagged behind (realistically). The narrator is conscious that this is just one scenario, one imagining of a societal experiment that may work to improve humanity for all, but also may just be a stepping stone. There's a major focus on
Julie H.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Immediately upon finishing John Kessel's political sci-fi novel The Moon and the Other, my husband handed it to me saying "You've got to read this next, you're really going to love it." That said, I was quite surprised how very long it took me to get into it and complete it. I've devoured books this length (ca. 600 pages) in a few evenings, when suitably riveted. This one took more than two weeks. Why so long? I think because what this novel-length (and then some!) adaptation and stitching toget ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very little gets my eyes rolling quite as quickly as discrimination-but-with-the-roles-reversed science-fiction. There's something incredibly condescending about the idea that the privileged can't understand or at least empathize with the oppressed without a very little "WHAT IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU!?" story to help them along. I was convinced that The Moon and The Other - set largely in a moon colony where women hold most of the political and social power and where men are largely treated like pe ...more
J. Kessel
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Please excuse my giving my own book five stars.

I just want to thank all of you who have read the book and taken the time to comment. Whether you ended up liking it or not, a lot of you have engaged with my story and characters and the ideas I was exploring, and that's what a writer wants.

If you are interested, I have published four "prequel" stories to THE MOON AND THE OTHER, featuring many of the characters of that book--Erno, Mira, Eva, Carey, and Roz, among others. All of these stories are i
Geoff Clarke
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's interesting to compare this to Ian McDonald's Luna series: both deal with tensions among rival moon colonies, both explore sexual and gender issues, both feature a moon that feels complete and has depth.

While McDonald's plot has more action, Kessel is more reflective. Kessel is less about the set piece action and more about the sudden twist. McDonald seems to want to explore several ideas, while Kessel wants to focus on patriarchy and masculinity, with a side trip on natives, immigrants, a
Sudeep Tirupati
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece.

And it doesn't even have 200 ratings on goodreads. But if the people who read it manages to spread it, this book definitely has a chance to become a future classic.

I will not say anything about this book except for one thing. I urge everyone who comes across the book to read it. Not today or tomorrow or even this month, but someday this book should be read by everyone. You might not love it( like I do) or you might not end up liking it, but you will not regret picking
Sean Rubbo
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had a great time with this one. Its very Heinlein-esque and I thought Kessel pulled it off brilliantly, while not copying. If you like any of Heinlein's stuff, this one is a must read. ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a sense, it's unfortunate that The Moon and the Other wears its intellectual heritage on its sleeve: The Dispossessed, Red Mars, and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress are all clear forebears. As a work of political science fiction, The Moon and the Other has a very different project. I've been thinking about Kessel's novel since I finished it, and I'm seriously considering calling it the best of the four.

In the small, intimate societies Kessel imagines on the moon, the personal and the political a
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
John Kessel has been writing science fiction for awhile. This is the first book by him that I have read. At 594 pages, it is an ambitious work. The story is set in the mid-22nd century on the moon. The moon was colonized in the middle of the 21st century, spurred by unnamed problems on Earth. There are several colonies with different styles of governing, from a laissez-faire libertarian state which is free-wheeling and chaotic to a mostly Middle-Eastern colony that is a powerhouse for trade. The ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have various feelings. I need to ponder awhile
Still surprised this has not garnered more award-type attention
Jan 27, 2021 rated it did not like it
1.5 stars. Audiobook.

Wowowow I hated this book. The beginning started out okay, if exceedingly info-dumpy, and the concepts this book promised to explore had me really interested: matriarchal and patriarchal societies co-existing as independent entities, hyper-intelligent dogs, polyamorous relationships, detailed political maneuverings, and advanced technology that allows humans to live on the moon.

Sounds so interesting right? Wrong. This read like an extremely dry textbook.
There were so many c
Samantha (AK)
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you start reading a book, and can immediately tell how much attention was put into its craft. Usually, this occurs with authors who have been writing for some time. The Moon and the Other is one of those technically beautiful books.

Presented as an extended meditation on gender politics, it avoids the trap of simply inverting the status quo to create a misandrist reenaction of The Handmaid's Tale, and instead presents a lunar future in which colonies are social experiments in their own
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the longest audiobook I’ve listened to thus far and selected by length, because why spend an audible credit on a short book where you can get one that lasts for walk after walk after walk…But really I didn’t just choose the book for its length. The main attraction was a premise, I love the sort of thinking person science fiction that relies heavily on world building and sociopolitical structure interplay as oppose to wham bam shoot ‘em up in space sort of thing. And on that account The ...more
Brad Kirk
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Probably 3.5-4 stars. This book was favorably compared to The Dispossessed and The Handmaids Tale. For me it definitely wasn't in the same territory as The Dispossessed, which I thought was amazing, but it is a solid book with a setting that reminded me of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. The world-building and the characters were all strong in this book. The various conflicts and their resolutions were a bit lacking for me. The book just kinda ended, which is primarily what dropped my overall rati ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the moon world he created and over all the story was fine. The societies and the male vs female discussions seemed like a lot of old Earth stereotypes that I hope are gone/evolved by that far into the future. The Cousins Society seemed very much what a "traditional man's" idea of a female-created-world would be like. ...more
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I gave this book 130 pages, but the writing style and I just did not find a way to make friends. Great setting, great concept, boring, boring, boring.
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
In John Kessel’s new novel, the Moon of 2149 hosts twenty-seven different colonies that support 3.2 million people. Each colony is principled on different political and social values, but bound to the whole through complex economic trade and scientific interdependencies. AIs are commonplace, as is genetic engineering, potent anti-aging tech, nano-solutions to a variety of problems, and even, though frowned upon in some quarters, uplifted animals, such as dogs and monkeys. And of course, all of t ...more
Deidra (ShadeTreeReads)
2 of 5 stars because it had potential.
Whew. I really did end up forcing myself to finish this book. I started out only reading it physically. Was hybrid reading it for 40-60% and then I finished by listening to the audiobook. We are thankful for audiobooks, mmkay!? There's no way I would have been able to finish it otherwise.

First of all, it started out great! Kessel introduced us to life on the Moon and Persepolis along with some social commentary and I thought I needed to buckle up for the r
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptionally compelling and the characters were very real. Their obstacles and missteps were gut-wrenching rather than cathartic (always a sign I've bought in to their personhood). The societies were complex and challenging and appealing and delightful and delightfully awful. A bit reminiscent of both KSR and John Brunner, not derivative, more of a family resemblance. Overall, A+, would read again.

I was uncomfortable around some of the stuff about trans people in the book (fairly meta/nitpickin
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fun-lit, sci-fi
I would say this book rates a 4.5/5. I did take a long break between the book's first and second halves, but I chalk that up more to my own distractions than any shortcoming in the book. I haven't read any of Kessel's other work, but I did hear him give a good reading of the early pages. In The Moon and the Other he does a great job of building the lunar world (and also dropping in occasional--and occasionally funny--references to Earth) that has enough of our world to feel familiar (especially ...more
Everdeen Mason
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
In The Moon and the Other (Saga), John Kessel has laid out his vision in an irresistibly entertaining way. Set in the 22nd century, the novel follows a man and a woman in two opposing cities on the moon. In the Society of Cousins, men give up the right to vote in exchange for an elevated and pampered status where they show off their skills as artists, athletes and lovers. The Society’s rival, Persepolis, is a city with patriarchal power structures more reflective of our own. The Society is deeme ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was painful. I picked it up because of the excellent reviews it received, but while it has a lot of great ideas within it? The execution is terrible.

First and foremost is the fact that Kessel is yet another male writer who hasn't figured out how to craft female characters so they read like people, as opposed to two-dimensional signboards pointing readers helpfully to the plot-points the author desperately wants us to follow.

Beyond that is the fact that the humor almost universally fa
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book- the world-building is very believable, the characters are complex and interesting, and I never lost interest. It's a treat to read a book about different styles of government, especially when they involve gender, that isn't preachy or obvious. ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very complicated book with many layers, very difficult to review - but I suspect I'll be mulling over it for a long time. ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I was looking to read another story by this author, but when that book wasn't available, the description of this one drew me in for a ride.

I wavered between 3 and 4 stars with this, but went "3" because the story flaws were too prominent in my mind for me to overlook them.

Set about 200 years in the future, this novel centers around one of the many human settlements living on the moon, called the Society of Cousins, a matriarchal government where all the problems of Earth have been summed up as "
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SciFi and Fantasy...: "The Moon and the Other" by John Kessel (BR) 48 63 Aug 01, 2018 11:19AM  

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John (Joseph Vincent) Kessel co-directs the creative writing program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. A winner of the Nebula, Locus, Sturgeon, and Tiptree Awards, his books include Good News From Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. His story collection Meeting in Infinity was a New York Times Notable Book ...more

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