Review: “Inconstant Moon” by Larry Niven

3 of 5 stars.

This tale poses an interesting scenario and question: you realize that this is your last night on Earth, or more correctly, Earth’s last night. What are you going to do with it?

Stan is up late in San Diego after the sun has set when he notices the moon beautifully brightening to a point he’s never witnessed. Despite the late hour, almost midnight, he calls Leslie, a quasi-girlfriend with benefits. He becomes disturbed by the moon’s continued brightening. The lovers make love and then head out into the night for decadent desserts and drinks to shut down the bars. It is while they are out that ominous suspicions are confirmed when Jupiter, the next closest celestial object visible in that night’s sky, flares brighter in reflected sunlight 90 minutes after the moon started.

Whether it’s a solar system ending nova event or an epoch ending mega-flare from the sun, the lovers conjecture certain of the scarcity of remaining hours. However, a lack of aurora and subsequent shockwave has them daring to hope that their half of the planet might actually pull through the arising tempests and apocalypse . . .

This story is illustrated by 2014 artist contest winner Bernardo Mota. “Inconstant Moon” is included in the anthology Writers of the Future Volume 31 by L. Ron Hubbard. I received the anthology through Net Galley.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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