Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blues for Allah: Crescent in the Sky by Donald Moffitt (1989)

Crescent in the Sky (1989), a hard science fiction-alternate history-political fantasy novel by American author Donald Moffitt. The first book in his The Mechanical Sky series.

Paperback original (New York: Del Rey / Ballantine Books, 1989) 280 pp, $3.95. Cover art by Don Dixon. Here is the promotional piece from the back cover:

Blues for Allah.

For a thousand years the Great Awakening had spread the word of Allah to the stars. And for a thousand years there had been no Caliph to unite the disparate Islamic planets—the vast interstellar distances made the required pilgrimage to Mecca nearly impossible for the more far-flung rulers.

Then the Emir of Mars announced his plan to travel to Islam's most holy shrine and to capture the prize of the Caliphate. Thus all Mars was plunged into a whirlwind of plots, intrigues, assassination, and revolution.

Young Abdul Hamid-Jones cared little for politics. But in spite of himself, the cloning technician was unwittingly caught in a vicious power play and a political game in which there were more players than rules—a game in which the least he could lose was his life!

According to the website Islam and Science Fiction, “The history of Islam in the 20th century in this story [Crescent in the Sky] is different from OTL."

A thumbnail review in an old issue of Library Journal concluded: "Featuring an intriguing premisethe Islamic conquest of spaceand an engagingly ingenuous hero, this sf adventure/intrigue belongs in most collections." 

Canadian science fiction fan and writer Randy McDonald was less impressed, writing in 2005: “My opinion of Moffitt as a basically competent science fiction author only began to change when I came across his novels Crescent in the Sky and A Gathering of Stars. Set in a vaguely alternate-historical setting, as the Islam in Sci-Fi site notes, these books do carry on in Moffitt's tradition of grand hard-sci vistas. The only problems with these books is the fact that the Islamic world-civilization they describe bears more similar to Disney's Aladdin than, say, the infinitely superior novels of George Alec Effinger, or, in fact, any plausible modern Islamic society. Were I a Muslim, I'd certainly be offended; as a non-Muslim, I'm unsurprised that he doesn't know what he's talking about.”

Surprisingly, Crescent in the Sky is available as an e-book through Amazon, Apple or Fictionwise.

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