The Man Who Sold the Moon • 2014 • Near SF novella by Cory Doctorow



Hardware hackers and Burning Man devotees send an autonomous 3D printing robot to the Moon which produces building panels from moondust and sunlight. The story features the Burning Man festival, overcoming cancer, crowdfunding and crowdengineering a Moon mission.


Doctorow recycled Heinlein’s 1949 novella title, sharing the idea of space for all mankind: An engineer with a dream will die of cancer and may not see his dream come to live, but his friends pick it up and do everything to make it happen.

It diverges in lots of current Near SF topics, and I expect lots of stories about 3D printing in the next few SF seasons. The narration is well-rounded, emotionally engaging and ends in satisfyingly. It incorporates the same optimistic view as Golden Age SF, thus modernizing Heinlein’s story in a very nice homage. It doesn’t forget Heinlein’s society criticism, picking up topics like gift culture vs. capitalism, hacktivism vs. corporations.

Hieroglyph provides lots of interesting background information about the story’s engineering aspects, validating the narrative assumptions.

Meta: isfdb. This SF short story was published 2014 in Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future. Winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I read it as part of The Year’s Best SF #32. It is available online.



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