Moon, Elizabeth 1945- (Susan Elizabeth Norris Moon)
Moon, Elizabeth 1945- (Susan Elizabeth Norris Moon)
Born March 7, 1945, in McAllen, TX; daughter of Dorothy Norris; married Richard Sloan Moon, 1969; children: Michael Edwin. Education: Rice University, B.A. (history), 1968; University of Texas, B.A. (biology), 1975; graduate study at University of Texas at San Antonio, 1975-77. Religion: Episcopalian.
Home—Florence, TX. Agent—JABberwocky Literary Agency, P.O. Box 4558, Sunnyside, NY 11104. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Worked variously as a draftswoman, sign painter, office assistant, choir director, church youth leader, tutor, and volunteer teacher. Military service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1968-71.
Science Fiction Writers of America, Austin Writers League.
Compton Crook Award, 1989, for Sheepfarmer's Daughter; nomination for Hugo Award, 1997, for Remnant Population; Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, 2003, and Nebula Award, 2004, both for The Speed of Dark; Robert A. Heinlein Award, 2007.
"DEED OF PAKSENARRION" SERIES
Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Baen (New York, NY), 1988.
Divided Allegiance, Baen (New York, NY), 1988.
Oath of Gold, Baen (New York, NY), 1989.
The Deed of Paksenarrion (omnibus), Baen (New York, NY), 1992.
"LEGACY OF GIRD" SERIES
Surrender None: The Legacy of Gird, Baen (New York, NY), 1990.
Liar's Oath, Baen (New York, NY), 1992.
The Legacy of Gird (omnibus) Baen (New York, NY), 1996.
"PLANET PIRATES" SERIES, WITH ANNE MCCAFFREY
Sassinak, Baen (New York, NY), 1990.
Generation Warriors, Baen (New York, NY), 1991.
(With Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye) The Planet Pirates (includes Death of Sleep), Baen (New York, NY), 1993.
"SERRANO LEGACY" SERIES
Hunting Party (also see below), Baen (New York, NY), 1993.
Sporting Chance (also see below), Baen (New York, NY), 1994.
Winning Colors (also see below), Baen (New York, NY), 1995.
Once a Hero, Baen (New York, NY), 1997.
Rules of Engagement, Baen (New York, NY), 1998.
Change of Command, Baen (New York, NY), 1999.
Against the Odds, Baen (New York, NY), 2000.
Heris Serrano (omnibus edition; contains Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, and Winning Colors), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
The Serrano Legacy: Omnibus One (contains Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, and Winning Colors), Orbit (London, England), 2006.
The Serrano Connection: Omnibus Two, Orbit (London, England), 2007.
The Serrano Succession, Orbit (London, England), 2008.
"VATTA'S WAR" SERIES
Trading in Danger, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2003.
Marque and Reprisal, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2004.
Engaging the Enemy, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2006.
Command Decision, Dell Rey (New York, NY), 2007.
Victory Conditions, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Remnant Population, Baen (New York, NY), 1996.
The Speed of Dark, Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Also author of short fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and plays.
Writer Elizabeth Moon has won particular recognition for her fantasy novels, including the "Paksenarrion" series recounting the exploits of the title character, a woman warrior. "In many ways, the [Paksenarrion] novels seem like standard fantasies, set in a faraway medieval land inhabited by humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, and various practitioners of good and evil magic," reported Gary Westfahl in St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers. But he added that Moon's fiction is distinguished from other fantasy works by its similarities to an unlikely volume, The Lives of the Saints. "It is almost as if Moon consciously reached back to The Lives of the Saints to provide a modernized role model for young female readers," wrote Westfahl, who described Paksenarrion as "a woman who could outfight any man while maintaining higher moral standards in her adventures."
Moon commenced the Paksenarrion series in 1988 with Sheepfarmer's Daughter, wherein the eventual warrior is introduced as an independent woman who defies her father's efforts to arrange her marriage, then joins a mercenary team and becomes veteran of armed conflict. While undertaking a dangerous cross-country trek, however, Paksenarrion reaffirms her strong moral values and comes to believe that a greater fate awaits her. In the next volume, Divided Allegiance, Paksenarrion breaks from her fellow mercenaries, whose gruesome deeds have finally grown unacceptable to her, and she pledges herself to Gird, an ancient saint. In her consequent training to better serve Gird, Paksenarrion runs afoul of black magic, which leaves her, in Westfahl's words, "a pathetic wanderer." But in the third volume, Oath of Gold, Paksenarrion regains her courage, and in an ensuing conflict she undergoes various tortures and degradations while fighting to restore a duke to his proper kingdom.
Moon recounts Gird's own exploits in an ensuing novel, Surrender None: The Legacy of Gird, which relates Gird's leading role in a peasant revolt. Unlike the utterly wholesome Paksenarrion, Gird shows some foibles, including explosive rage and a penchant for alcohol abuse. In another book, Liar's Oath, Moon writes of Gird's disciple, Luap, who succumbs to evil only to be defeated and spiritually held by foul dwarves. Luap eventually experiences a vision in which he secures from Paksenarrion an assurance that she will one day free his soul.
Another of Moon's more notable works is Sassinak, the initial installment of the "Planet Pirates" series. In this tale, written with Ann McCaffrey, an adolescent girl, Sassinak, witnesses the extermination of her family and seeks vengeance. A Publishers Weekly reviewer affirms that Sassinak's ensuing adventures are "expertly recounted." Moon and McCaffrey also produced a sequel, Generation Warriors.
In Remnant Population, a widowed colonist remains behind when fellow humans depart from a faraway planet. She subsequently becomes embroiled in violence between new arrivals, who are soon eliminated, and the natives, who spare her and ultimately come to accept her. Booklist reviewer Carl Hays described Remnant Population as "a fascinating adventure." Another tale, Once a Hero, features a heroine who must face a military court-martial after leading a mutiny on a starship. A Publishers Weekly critic proclaimed this novel "satisfying." A following novel, Rules of Engagement, concerns the same heroine, Esmay Suiza, who interrupts her training as a star fleet commander and determines to rescue a rival in romance. A Publishers Weekly critic noted the story's "smart pacing" and "lively characters."
Change of Command continues the intergalactic epic as Esmay and Barin Serrano find romance while embroiled in labyrinthine political plottings among the Familias Regnant. "The novel moves slowly at times," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "and may appeal more to readers who appreciate romance than space opera." Booklist contributor Roland Green, however, deemed it a "thoroughly excellent adventure."
Mutiny threatens the Familias Regnant in Against the Odds, in which Esmay and Barin must battle both intergalactic enemies and those closer to home who disapprove of their elopement. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the novel a "so-so installment," but a reviewer for Publishers Weekly enjoyed its memorable descriptions of a "deeply layered political and military culture" and its "twisting, thorny" plot.
Moon's "Vatta's War" series kicks off with Trading in Danger, a far-future tale told from the perspective of a young, ambitious space academy cadet named Kylara Vatta. Returning to her wealthy family after being dishonorably discharged from the academy, Ky is asked by her father to captain a run-down space ship on its way to the junkyard. The ordinarily mundane trip is complicated when Ky's ship becomes embroiled in an interplanetary war. Booklist contributor Roland Green found Ky's character an "entertaining combination of intelligence, creativity, and naval-academy training." Christine C. Menefee commented in a review for School Library Journal that "the human interest, well-wrought story, humor, and rich world-building will more than satisfy."
The series continues with Marque and Reprisal, which follows a vengeful Ky after she learns that her family has been murdered and their estate reduced to rubble. "Excellent plotting and characters support the utterly realistic action sequences: swift, jolting, confusing, and merciless," described a contributor to Kirkus Reviews. The sophomore title prompted a Publishers Weekly reviewer to comment: "Moon has a genuine hoorah series going for her." In the follow-up novel, Engaging the Enemy, Ky begins to rebuild the family empire with the help of a small but loyal group of allies. "Moon has created a richly imagined universe of different cultures," wrote Christine C. Menefee for School Library Journal, "replete with intriguing characters and the sense of unlimited possibility." Roland Green commented in another review for Booklist that the book has "plenty of fast-packed action to keep series fans coming back."
The 2007 title in the "Vatta's War" series, Command Decision, was described by Roland Green as "Moon at her best." Ky's limited but growing fleet faces a new challenge: that of intrastellar piracy. Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada maintained that Moon "handles action and intrigue with equal skill; her characters are varied and believable." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews declared: "Strong female leads, terrific action and complications aplenty: should grab existing fans and win new converts."
Moon's descriptions of military activities are grounded in personal experience. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who achieved the rank of first lieutenant, Moon acquired what she described in an Adventures in Crime and Space interview as an "understanding of relationships between enlisted and officer, sergeant and private, colonel and lieutenant, to the constants of military life…. I also have direct first-person experience with several varieties of civilian/military interaction, from the anti-military civilian who wants you dead, to the politician who wants some dirt on another politician's relative in service." In addition, Moon observed, the Marine Corps gave her "a better understanding of myself" that she believes also shows up, though indirectly, in her work.
A departure from her more traditional works of science fiction, The Speed of Dark is set in the not-too-distant future and is told from the perspective of Lou, a young professional living with the daily challenges of autism. Although highly functioning, Lou faces the possibility of undergoing treatment that would eliminate the condition's symptoms, and he grapples with a decision that would mean he could experience love like "normals" yet could ultimately change his very identity. "Well-written, intelligent, quite moving," stated a Kirkus Reviews contributor, who concluded: "Moon places the reader inside the world of an autistic and unflinchingly conveys the authenticity of his situation." Meredith Parets commented in a review for Booklist that "Moon is effective at putting the reader inside Lou's mind," a perspective that is "both fascinating and painful." The novel's protagonist was directly inspired by Moon's son, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
Moon once commented in CA: "Writing science fiction and fantasy requires both self-discipline and a sense of play—an ability to turn the internal editor off and on at will. One of the best things about it is getting to use everything I've learned, and all my interests—from archaeology to zoology—in the service of the story. It's not only a ‘what if?’ working environment, but also ‘why not?’ I have a perfect excuse for looking up anything, learning anything, trying anything."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, April 15, 1996, Carl Hays, review of Remnant Population, p. 1425; February 1, 1997, Dennis Winters, review of Once a Hero, p. 929; November 1, 1998, Roland Green, review of Rules of Engagement, p. 478; November 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of Change of Command, p. 609; February 1, 2003, Meredith Parets, review of The Speed of Dark, p. 972; September 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of Trading in Danger, p. 75; September 1, 2004, Roland Green, review of Marque and Reprisal, p. 75; March 1, 2006, Roland Green, review of Engaging the Enemy, p. 77; February 15, 2007, Roland Green, review of Command Decision, p. 45.
Bookseller, December 9, 2005, review of Engaging the Enemy, p. 31.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2000, review of Against the Odds, p. 1523; November 1, 2002, review of The Speed of Dark, p. 1559; July 15, 2003, review of Trading in Danger, p. 944; July 15, 2004, review of Marque and Reprisal, p. 666; December 1, 2006, review of Command Decision, p. 1202.
Library Journal, May 15, 1996, Sue Hamburger, review of Remnant Population, p. 86; March 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Once a Hero, p. 93; December, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Change of Command, p. 192; January 1, 2003, Corey Seeman, review of The Speed of Dark, p. 157; August 1, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of Trading in Danger, p. 142; March 15, 2006, Jackie Cassada, review of Engaging the Enemy, p. 67; January 1, 2007, Jackie Cassada, review of Command Decision, p. 100.
Publishers Weekly, February 9, 1990, p. 56; April 22, 1996, review of Remnant Population, p. 63; February 24, 1997, review of Once a Hero, p. 69; November 23, 1998, p. 63; November 23, 1998, review of Rules of Engagement, p. 63; November 29, 1999, review of Change of Command, p. 56; November 20, 2000, review of Against the Odds, p. 51; December 16, 2002, review of The Speed of Dark, p. 45; December 16, 2002, Melissa Mia Hall, review of The Speed of Dark, p. 46; September 29, 2003, review of Trading in Danger, p. 48; August 2, 2004, review of Marque and Reprisal, p. 56; January 16, 2006, review of Engaging the Enemy, p. 41; December 4, 2006, review of Command Decision, p. 39.
School Library Journal, January, 1997, Pam Johnson, review of Remnant Population, p. 140; January, 2004, Christine C. Menefee, review of Trading in Danger, p. 163; July, 2006, Christine C. Menefee, review of Engaging the Enemy, p. 133.
Adventures in Crime and Space,http://www.crimeandspace.com/ (January 6, 2001), author interview.
Elizabeth Moon Home Page,http://www.elizabethmoon.com (August 20, 2007).