A House Between Earth and the Moon by Rebecca Scherm

Earth is dying and space is looking more and more attractive. Fires, hurricanes, heat waves, and blizzards plague the planet in the not-so-distant future. If you’re one of the few billionaires left or someone with unique skills, you may just get a new home in the relative safety of the new trillion-dollar spaceship being built.

Scientist Alex has been working on creating a super algae that can clean the air of carbon emissions and halt, or even reverse, climate change. His talents have been recognized and his marriage is falling apart. He wonders if he can save the world by working aboard the new station, even if it means sacrificing his family. His teenage daughter, Mary Agnes, will surely have something to say about it.

Tess the behavioral psychologist is young, but she has already proven a successful researcher. And the billionaire sisters running the spaceship have taken notice. She’s hired to help develop an advanced AI system trained by watching the live feeds gathered from users’ specialized phones. It’s an all-access pass to the intimate lives of the participants.

Tess’s research subjects primarily consist of the 6 scientists, including Alex, that are living and working and building the spaceship. When the controlled environment needs some hands-on influencing, Tess is sent up to space too to join the Pioneers.

The scientists must build their new home while conducting research that will help ensure their own survival all while being secretly monitored and manipulated. Things will start to fall apart quickly when it turns out some key truths are being hidden. And the stakes get higher when the scientist’s families are brought aboard.

In this sci-fi adventure, human nature will be reduced to code and humanity will be put in the hands of one woman.

First, let me talk about the cover art because that’s the reason I read this book in the first place. It is a beautiful display of deep colors that looks like a mix between an Earthly sunset with puffy clouds and a glimpse of outer space with speckled stars. There’s the impression of a doorway opening into the center of the book. The sky itself has opened. It’s black inside. We don’t know where the door leads. I think it’s stunning and hypnotic. The text is a bold, white font that stands out on top of the colors and swirls. I love it.

I would consider A House Between Earth and the Moon to be sci-fi, but for only two reasons. It’s set in space. And there’s weird futuristic technology. I didn’t get the classic sci-fi feel that I really wanted. It all seemed a bit too real, even though we’re not quite there yet with our current technologies. But I could see the realism and the nod to current situations and people.

It felt more like a character-centered book that sought to unravel humanity and human nature. And then it happened to be set in space and in the future. So not necessarily a bad thing, just don’t be disappointed if you’re looking to read something like The Martian or Ender’s Game.

My favorite part of this book was the concept of individuality. Everyone can’t be evaluated the same. Not even by AI. I think it’s impossible for someone to be pared down to their component pieces and their previous choices. The whole time Tess is training the computer to learn and predict behavior, I’m doubting her ability to succeed. But the human drive to understand and simplify is strong, so I understand why Tess and the Son sisters are trying to create the View program. But the characters behave unpredictably and the AI gets things wrong. Faith in humanity and individuality survives the future of technology.

My least favorite part is that it felt like I was getting two separate stories. One was a space adventure. The second was a psychology experiment. The second happened to partly take place on a spaceship, but really the setting didn’t connect. It felt disjointed and I never really got which plot line was more important as they kept competing. I wanted the outer space adventure to be front and center.

The cast list was interesting. I liked the mix of male and female characters that each had leaders to represent them. The people did seem a little too calm to me for all the space drama that was afoot. I wanted to see some more explosive emotions that were just let loose in a torrent of rage.

Overall, everyone was too calm. They’re in a spaceship! Fearing for their lives! Being lied to about their safety! Where’s the rage and tantrums and violent emotions? These humans were either really good at self-control or the author didn’t quite get the expressions correct.

I recommend A House Between Earth and the Moon for readers who want to explore human relationships and psychology in a unique new setting.

Rebecca Scherm has previously published one other book called Unbecoming, which is an international art heist adventure. A House Between Earth and the Moon was just released in March of 2022.

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