Classic literature confession: I have never read Moby-Dick. In my English classes, I read Frankenstein (my personal favorite), Jane Eyre, and Oedipus, but Moby-Dick wasn’t included, and I never took the initiative to read it on my own. But if Moby-Dick took place in space, and instead of a whale there were robots, I probably would have.
Minneapolis author D. F. Lovett has appealed to my nerdy classic literature fantasy by doing just that in his first novel, The Moonborn. Before I delve into my thoughts on the story, I want to say one thing: you don’t have to have read Moby-Dick to enjoy this book, and I’m proof of that. The narrator in The Moonborn hasn’t read Moby-Dick either. However, I do highly recommend reading “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, because the poem is mentioned numerous times throughout the novel.
In Lovett’s take on the Herman Melville tale, Ishmael lands on the moon and is ordered to write an autobiography about Adam Moonborn, the first man born there. As the story unfolds, however, Ishmael is yanked into an outer-space adventure to track the devious “White,” a robot that brings destruction to the population on the moon. Besides battling White, Adam Moonborn preaches about the dangers of artificial technology and how robots can turn against the very individuals who created them. I’m not sure if I agree with him, but I find his side of the argument compelling, and I like that the novel made me think about my opinions on those topics. I think about how much I use my smartphone and how as a society we really depend on technology now. The way the narrator relates Adam’s writings scares me in a way: could Siri become so advanced that she could hack my bank account or cause my iPhone to explode in an attempt to overthrow me? Who knows. I like reading literature that leads me to discuss with others or analyze my life and the way I live it.
Right away when reading The Moonborn, I enjoyed its references to classic literature. As I grow older, I have started to pick up more classic literature to read, and this was an interesting take on it. One passage compares Frankenstein’s monster to a robot that went out of control—Adam uses this as a reason to stay away from robot beings. I have to say, as many times as I have read Frankenstein, I never thought about Frankenstein as a robot.
The Moonborn is not my favorite of all the sci-fi novels I have ever read, but I definitely enjoyed it. It also left me with a strong desire to read the original Moby-Dick. That’s a good thing—we shouldn’t forget the classics, because they shape the material we read today. I can tell that D. F. Lovett has a passion for the classics as I do. It would be neat if he would write something inspired by Dracula or Frankenstein next; if so, I would buy it in a heartbeat. This story would be great for a book club, by the way, as there are discussion questions included at the end of each chapter. I love discussing what I read, and I would have loved to read this story in a group setting.