Review: Moving Target by Elizabeth Moon (Orbit)


When I finished reading Moving Target last night I tweeted:

Moon did it again. Loved it! Maybe I do like military sf after all…

The odd thing is that when I checked when I read the first in the series (Trading in Danger) I reviewed it way back in July 2008! Talk about being a bit slow with the follow through. Despite that I knew who Ky was and fell back into your life quite easily, which I think shows the power of a good writer. To be fair I’ve forgot a few details too but the emotional connection still was strong.

Moving Target follows on from the aftermath of Trading in Danger and I wasn’t expecting the explosive opening up of the world around Ky and what changes Moon introduces to her life. When a dramatic event takes place to the heart of the family Ky is left to fight alone, again. Though this time she’s learnt from her last adventure and makes some life saving and life altering decisions.

Because of the nature of the threat we again focus down on Ky on her crew but we also get to see another member of the Vatta clan, Stella, as her story weaves with Ky’s. Sometimes other POVs can be distracting or at least frustrating if they feel like asides but Stella’s character and how she compares to Ky is a strong addition to the plot.

The thing is that Stella is quite resourceful and entertaining in her own way. She also shows that Moon can handle two narrative threads giving both their own feel. If Stella had her own adventures I’d be inclined to follow along. As it is she’s integral to Ky’s (and her own) survival.

Again it’s the characterisation that Moon injects which keeps you reading along with the treacherous twists and turns that neither Ky or the reader can fully anticipate but Ky adapts well and quite scarily at more than one point.

As a way of opening up the story Moon gives a good steroid injection changing Ky’s journey by the end quite dramatically but without feeling that she’s been writing by numbers to get to that point all along.

I’ll admit that I felt that I was pushing the ‘suspend disbelief’ button quite hard a couple of times as she seems to take the Star Trek: The Next Generation approach to conflict and technology like Data verses Phasers. Any civilisation that can create AI can invent some amazing ways to kill people. But I enjoyed ST for its humanity rather than its portrayal of evils and I like Moon for the same feelings.

I’m not leaving it as long until I read Engaging the Enemy I swear!

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