Luna's Lucky Seven (book)

For the group of survivors of the same name, see Luna's Lucky Seven.  

Overview

Luna’s Lucky Seven is a highly acclaimed international best seller by award winning journalist and non-fiction author Priya Patel. It has been translated into more than 50 languages including Standard Received Lunaric and is scheduled for a film adaptation in the mid 2310’s. The book sheds new light on the darkest era of human history from a perspective rarely explored: World War 3’s survivors on Earth’s moon Luna. The book derives its title from the name given to the group of survivors during the media coverage of their relief and rescue. Luna’s Lucky Seven points out the ironic nature of this title, given the traumatic ordeal these seven endured, and the hundreds of their friends, family and loved ones who were therefore, by definition, unlucky.  

Part 1: The Road To Disaster

The first part of the book sets the stage, establishing the history of human colonization of the Moon prior to World War 3. It serves as a historical primer for those who aren’t aware of key players like Neil Armstrong or Major Thomas Bowden and why they matter to the history of the moon. This is especially important in an era where pre WW3 history is highly abridged and condensed in many curricula.  
I.

“Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
--Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11, 20 July 1969


Long has humankind looked up to the Moon and imagined visiting it, walking upon its surface. In 1969 that dream became a reality for a privileged few. After the Apollo Program ended in 1972, humans wouldn’t be back to the moon in nearly a century. It seemed that visiting and colonizing other worlds was a passing phase, that the prospect of visiting a distant world would be limited to those fortunate twelve who did so in an era when fusion power and artificial intelligence were purely in the realm of speculative fiction. Yet there were still many souls who looked up at the night sky, saw the glowing white disc among the stars, and yearned to make it their home. Thanks to 2069’s Lunar Return Initiative, they finally got their wish, and a new era for humankind began.
  Through various primary source documents, transcripts, and historical records, Patel vividly and accurately paints the path towards Lunar colonization. Readers are able to see just how much human effort went into making a permanent station on Luna a reality, and how precariously fragile it all was. The political tension between the US and China, the constant escalation and brinkmanship as both nations established a military presence on the Moon, all makes the eventual collapse seem inevitable given the context of the war brewing on Earth and in Orbit.  
I won’t lie to you… we don’t know how many are coming. Intelligence says there are between 3 and 5 Companies of PLA Marines North of the Plinius Line, but when’s the last time those fucking pogues got anything right. With commo and drones jammed we’re flying blind BVR so if we had bayonet’s I’d tell you to fix ‘em. Fact of the matter is this is a fucked situation on a fucked corner of some godforsaken rock.

But you know what? This is our godforsaken rock. Has been since we planted our flag in 1969. And who does the government send when they want to hold some godforsaken rock? Fucking right. Godforsaken rocks are half of Marine Corps history: Parris Island, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo fucking Jima, The Frozen Chosin, and now the fucking Moon. When NASA sent the first American into space, you know who they chose? Fuck, no, it was Alan Shepard a nasty squid… no offense Doc. But Colonel John Glenn was the first one to complete the fucking mission and actually make orbit, so you know when you want it done right you send the Marines.

Now, here on the Moon they sent some Air Force and Navy pukes who planted a flag, took some pictures, walked around and called it secured. Well now we’re gonna show them how Marines secure a fucking Moon. We’re going to post up on every airlock and loading bay and give anyone who tries to come through a 6.5 millimeter reminder that you don’t fuck with the United States Marine Corps, oorah?
— Major Thomas Bowden before the Battle of Tranquility Base
  Major Bowden’s valiant but ultimately unsuccessful defense of Tranquility Base is probably one of the most frequently recounted and romanticized aspects of World War 3 beyond the battlefields and blast zones on Earth. Luna’s Lucky Seven illustrates just how catastrophic this battle was for the civilian colonists on the Moon. When the dust cleared entire habitats were shredded, life support systems were compromised, and hundreds, soldier and civilian alike, lay dead in the cold regolith.   At this point Luna’s Lucky Seven introduces the eponymous survivors of the tragedy. To the uninitiated they seem to be vignettes of random colonists. The familiar names like Miranda Winters, Stefan Belic, Hsu Lee and Irena Chen-Meyer are introduced in order as they arrive on the Moon. Learning how and why they came to the Moon gives a sense of their lives before tragedy befell the colonies on Luna. The birth of the first child of the moon, Olivia Allard is given special attention, as her fate would be intertwined with those of the survivors in three years time.  

Part 2: The Struggle to Survive

II.

"No one’s coming. We’re all alone up here.”
--Irena Chen-Meyer, February, 2116


By the time most of the dust had settled on the moon, fighting had engulfed the Earth as well. Miranda may have been the first to look up from her crash site at the bright blue marble in the sky. With the naked eye, it would be hard to tell the Earth was already home to at least a billion fewer souls. There may have appeared to be more cloud coverage than usual as roughly circular cloud formations dotted North America, Europe, and Asia. Looking closely, especially with telescopes, would reveal brief flashes, bright enough to see on the surface during the day, as the origin of these clouds. These were the nuclear detonations that would scar the Earth forever.

The fighting in orbit could be seen more clearly. Flashes of missile explosions and reactor detonations made for an impressive firework display. The Chinese 3rd Battle Group and the US 2nd Orbital Task Force clashed directly over the moon, showering debris down onto the surface. Earth’s atmosphere managed to disintegrate most debris before it could reach the planet’s surface, but the Moon had no such protection. The battle in Lunar Orbit amounted to a second catastrophe on the surface.
  The first hand accounts of the survivors, as recorded in journals and recounted by their descendants, illustrate the grim situation on Luna. On Earth there are places to run and hide and wait out the war. On Luna, the colonists had nowhere to go. There were only so many habitable locations on the Moon, and the fighting left the survivors with fewer and fewer options as the fragility of artificial environments became painfully apparent.  
The survivors could only wait for the Chinese colonists’ decision as they stood in the clearing beyond the airlock. For an agonizing hour as air supplies dwindled, it was unclear whether the Chinese would trust them enough to save them, turn them away, or simply gun them down. Hsu had vouched for them, but he was a lowly PLA Marine. Would his allies trust him or believe him to be compromised?

Ultimately it was Olivia that softened their hearts and convinced them to open the door. The Chairman could not be brought to let a toddler die on his doorstep. Perhaps without Olivia, the Americans would have been left to suffocate.
  After the fighting came the next struggle: survival. Tranquility Base was the hardest hit, but the Chinese colony Chang’e City was not faring much better. The Americans faced a difficult decision: try to survive on their own in a dying colony or try to seek help from the very enemy that put them in this situation. Ultimately the two parties agreed to cooperate for survival. Over the next year the Americans would scrap and salvage the supplies from Tranquility Base and bring it to Chang’e City. The pooled resources would buy everyone time, but oxygen reserves and emergency rations would only take them so far.   Two hundred Lunar survivors burned through resources at an alarming rate. Oxygen, food, and water all had diminishing returns with each recycle, and neither major moon base had become self sufficient by the time the War began. Over time it became clear help wasn’t coming as war blanketed the Earth. Distress calls weren’t even being answered anymore, as Cape Canaveral, Houston, and Xichang had been destroyed. Even if anyone on Earth heard their calls, a Kessler Syndrome event had begun, blanketing Earth Orbit in dangerous debris. Relief or resupply was impossible. No help was coming.   This led to the hardest decision that would face the Lunar survivors. At their current rate of consumption, they would last a few more years at most. Help would not come before they starved to death, even accounting for the morbid prospect of cannibalism[1]. Ultimately the survivors realized that if they wanted to last long enough to be rescued, they would have to trade lives for time.   Luna’s Lucky Seven shows just how hard this reality was to accept. Even harder was deciding who would live and who would die. The survivors agreed they could support eight for at least another decade, which meant almost a hundred would have to die. Some went willingly, taking their own lives on their own terms.   Olivia, as the youngest Lunar survivor, was an obvious choice to be among the eight. The rest would be chosen at random from among the younger and healthier survivors.   Thanks to World War 3, many on Earth know the tragedy of loss on an unprecedented scale. What the people on Earth did not know of was the pain of voluntarily parting with friends and loved ones. Olivia would be forced to go on without her mother, who was in ill health by the time of The Decision.  
The corridors of Chang’e felt empty without the laughter or tears of the other colonists. For the first few days, the survivors carried on in silence. All of them were in mourning. The weight of The Decision devastated their souls. The last of the dead were buried around New Years Eve of 2130. The exact date in unclear because no one felt much like celebrating that year.
  The daily grind the survivors faced becomes apparent over the next few chapters. Quiang’s descent into depression is clear, and his absence from among The Seven should foreshadow his fate, but it is no less jarring when he takes his own life. Each of them, in their own way, wrestled with the question of whether to go on. Irena Chen-Meyer pressed the group on and led them to continue, if not for themselves then for the ones who had sacrificed their lives to get them this far.   For five more years they continued, supplies dwindling along with their morale, unaware of the developments on Earth. All until one day the radio receiver crackled to life. Suddenly they weren’t alone in the universe anymore, which came as a great relief. The struggle was far from over, however. The orbital debris was still insurmountable, and The Seven had only enough food for a year.   Rescuing the Seven was probably one of the biggest motivating factors behind the Pathfinder project. It wasn’t just a matter of getting back to space, but getting back to space in time to save the Seven. With the end in sight, the survivors had to stretch out their already limited resources, turning one year of food and water into four.  
By the time Corridor One was established, the Seven were severely malnourished and on the verge of starvation. Relief could not come soon enough. The first two attempts to send an unmanned supply pod through Corridor One ended in failure. The first from faulty rocket construction and the second from errant debris.

The whole world watched each rocket launch. Each failure brought sent a shockwave of disappointment and grief around the world, and to Chang’e as the survivors learned help would not come yet.

By the time of the third launch, it was clear the Seven were out of time. The last pack of food had already been rationed. Its rations had been further rationed into morsels. Weeks had gone by, and severe starvation and dehydration symptoms were beginning to set in.

As the third rocket cleared Low Earth Orbit, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. The second stage transferred to lunar orbit and deposited the supply pod over the Sea of Tranquility. The pod’s retrothrusters misfired. Mission Control at Uhuru Spaceport still had some control of the pod but they could no longer safely land it at Chang’e City’s landing pads.

Uhuru Control quickly made the decision to redirect it away from the colony and crash land it in a clearing 20km from Chang’e. Miranda, Hsu and Olivia took one of the few operational rovers out and raced to the crash site, using the cloud of ejecta as a beacon to guide their way.

They barely had the energy to go on, but this pod was their only hope. It was supposed to be a simple rescue, but everything was going wrong. Furthermore the contents of the pod might not have survived the rough landing.

Reaching the scene of the crash site, their hopes were dashed. The pod had split open on impact, and one of the cases had spilled out into the regolith, scattering food and other provisions. Furthermore, a billow of vapor, either from a ruptured oxygen tank or sublimating water, diffused out into the cold vacuum.

Brushing aside the pain of another failure snatching relief from under their noses, the trio of survivors spent the next hour sifting through the contents of the pod. Much had been lost, but they were able to gather enough food and supplies to ward off starvation. The Seven would be able to survive long enough for the next resupply pod to reach them two weeks later. This time it didn’t miss.
  The Seven’s ordeal finally ended when the first manned rescue mission reached the moon four years later. By that time, the seven had grown close, bonded by their shared hardships. Some had developed romantic feelings for each other, and the influx of food from Earth made some of them comfortable enough to consummate their relationships.   The rescuers from Earth were greeted not by Seven lunar survivors, but ten: two baby boys and a girl. The story of these births had captivated public interest almost as much as the seven themselves, a miracle or testament to human resilience depending on the point of view. Luna’s Lucky Seven illustrates that the truth was that these new children introduced variables that put the Seven’s survival at risk. Most of the women on the colony were nearing the end of their lifetime reproductive window, having lived on the moon for 30 years in less-than-ideal conditions. Additionally, long term exposure to cosmic radiation drastically increased the risk of birth defects. The birth of the Lee twins in particular almost cost Irena her life, and burned through most of the colony’s medical supplies in the process.   Countering the pragmatic standpoint on these births, the survivors and descendants of the Seven don’t for a moment regret the decision to have children on the Moon. The book posits that after all of the death they endured, it was time to introduce new life for a change.  

Part 3: The Lives that Followed

III.

“This is the only home I’ve ever known. All of my family and all of my friends are here. I don’t know if I’d want to leave even if I could survive on Earth.”
--Olivia Allard, 16 March 2148


Officials expected all of the Seven to wish to return to Earth and put their ordeal behind them. The reality of the situation turned out to be more complicated. First and foremost, Olivia’s bone density and other alterations as a result of her lifetime growing and developing at 16% of Earth’s gravity called into question whether she’d even be able to survive under five times the weight of her own body.
  The third section of Luna’s Lucky Seven deals entirely with the aftermath of the ordeal. First in the initial weeks that followed as the survivors wrestled with the decision over whether or not to return to Earth. Ultimately three of the initial Seven decide that the Earth is their home: Miranda, Wei Huang, Ai Yang. Wei and Ai bring their baby An (Tranquility) to Earth as well.   The book shows the physiological difficulties of adjustment to the new situation, as well as the psychological trauma that haunts them. Their newfound celebrity status ensures the Earthbound survivors don’t get much time to themselves. The quiet emptiness of Chang’e is replaced with the claustrophobia-inducing stream of state visits, interviews, press events, health examinations, and social functions.   Jumping ahead a few years, readers see how the Seven’s children develop on Earth and on Luna. The book shows how early aspects Lunar society and culture started to form around the remaining members of the Seven long before the Darksiders come into being. The initial media sensation around “Luna’s Lucky Seven” dies down as the lunar colonies are rebuilt and repopulated. The fragility of Tranquility Base and Chiang’e City lead to a focus on more redundancies and protections in future Lunar colony designs.   The book ends with a look at the most famous direct descendants of the Seven: Lunaric politicians, scientists, poets, and doctors… celebrities and recluses. Their descendents only make up a small fraction of the population of Luna, drowned out more recently by the SAHBs and immigrants from Earth and elsewhere. Despite this, their legacy does not fade completely from existence. The Seven fought for survival. Their memory lives on, not just in their great grandchildren, but in the names of Lunar cities and regions, in the annals of history and art, and thanks to Patel’s book, in the memories of those who read it.

Footnotes

[1]The question of cannibalism was a frequently broached subject during the many interviews after the rescue. The Seven would not open up about this subject, and their descendants deny any cannibalism took place. The dead had been buried and their remains have been undisturbed out of respect, so whether the Seven actually had to resort to the grizzly act to survive remains a mystery.
Published
2215
Author
Priya Patel
Genre
Non-Fiction, Historical
Print Pages
439
First Print Language
English
Estimated Sales
Over 4 Billion

Comments

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8 Dec, 2017 22:12

This does a great job contextualizing the text into the world, and serves not only as an exposition and explanation of it, but as an in-world critique that makes the article itself feel more like it could've been written *In* your lore rather than *About* your lore. Well done.

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11 Dec, 2017 00:11

Wow. Impressive storytelling. I'll be looking at your stuff and taking lessons. :)

11 Dec, 2017 06:43

Thanks for the kind words guys! I'll be sure to keep on writing.