Martinis and Dior: Cocktail Culture on the Moon

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Written by Ian McDonald

I like details. Little things tell me everything about people, their society, their hopes and fears, the sky above them, the rock beneath them.

When I began writing Luna, I knew I would be building a world from scratch, but also one that adhered to the constraints of the physical realities of the moon. The Moon may have been Heinlein’s Harsh Mistress but we’ve learned a lot about Lady Luna since and she’s got leaner and meaner. A lot meaner. I wanted those facts to shape the world and lives of my characters, from low gravity to moon dust, which is seriously nasty stuff. I suppose it’s a “hard science fiction” book—though that’s an expression I hate. Hard science technically shapes the lives, loves, jealousies and ambitions of every one of my moon’s one point seven million citizens.

That’s where the Martinis come in. Booze, sex and getting off your head. These are fundamentals to the human species; nail them and you have a way into a world. What do you drink on the Moon? To me, that was an important question, and answering it opened up windows on every aspect of my created world.

Wine? It would be criminal to dedicate large percentages of rare carbon and water to grow a crop that doesn’t really have any other purpose than to produce booze.

Beer? Even worse. Barley, wheat and rice are inefficient crops—they succeed because of the space the surface of our planet affords them. Agricultural space is limited on the moon—building surface farms risks exposure to radiation and constant crop (and pest) mutations. So; no beer, but also little grain. Rice, wheat, flour are luxury foods.

But: spirit alcohol. Yes! You can make it from anything. Vodka and gin! Liquor opened up an entire world for me. My moon is a cocktail culture. The underground cities run on three different time zones so it’s always Happy Hour somewhere. The Cortas have their own signature cocktail; the Blue Moon. (I tried it, oh my beloveds. When I write a book, I sink deep into the mindset of the characters—it’s like method acting. I have become a real gin connoisseur/bore. My favourite? The light and fragrant Monkey 47 from the Black Forest in Germany. I do it for you, dear readers.)

And so, Dior. Because when you picture a Martini glass, you picture it in the gloved hand of Audrey Hepburn. And then I had it all. I didn’t want a Moon of people in coveralls and shorts and tank tops—these are people who have mastered 3D printing. If you can print clothes, why not in the style of one of the most elegant eras in fashion history? The 1950s. Dior and Balenciaga, Balmain and Jacques Fath.

That’s how I world-build. Cocktails and circle dresses.

The perfect Martini? Gin, of course. A good London gin, nothing too fancy. Chill the glass, be generous. Stir ten times (never shake) and add homeopathic levels of Martini Bianco. One olive, speared. Chin chin!

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7 thoughts on “Martinis and Dior: Cocktail Culture on the Moon

  1. I don’t think you have thought this through.
    Firstly, the cocktail culture wouldn’t have martinis, as the vermouth would have to be shipped up from Earth using the same reasoning as not having wine.

    However that would be wrong too. You state that clothes would be 3D printed. Unless they will tolerate plastic fabrics, they will want clothes that have the natural fabric feel, and luxury, which means cotton and silk. But cotton needs lots of agricultural space and water, which is short on the moon. So that means the moon’s factories must be able to synthesize those fibers, perhaps using gene engineered micro-organisms, or by direct synthesis. Either way, the synthesis of organic molecules will be easy and therefore synthetic wine or beer could be produced. And that would undermine your cocktail culture logic.

    Of course it might just be possible to vertically farm grapes with the espaliers vertical rather than horizontal as we see in vineyards. Robots would pick the grapes, just as they would other tall growing crops, like tomatoes.

  2. That article, more than any review, has pushed Luna up to the top of my ‘must buy’ list. Bravo! Terviseks!

  3. This us sounding like an interesting book, but on checking Amazon $15 exceeds my price limit for an ebook, especially from a author I’m unfamiliar with. Maybe I’ll check later to see if the price drops to a more reasonable level later.

  4. “This us sounding like an interesting book, but on checking Amazon $15 exceeds my price limit for an ebook, especially from a author I’m unfamiliar with. Maybe I’ll check later to see if the price drops to a more reasonable level later.”

    Michael D’Auben’s comment makes me weep. So sad. Authors spend months and months, and sometimes even years crafting a good novel. To say $15 is too much for someone’s life work (or perhaps, year’s work) is sad, sad, sad. We pay $15 for two tickets to the movies. Why not $15 for ten hours of good story? For shame. What a culture we’ve become…one that does not value books.

  5. It’s got nothing to do with the worth of an authors time. It has to do with publishers artificially inflating ebook prices in order to drive sales toward traditional paper books. There are hundreds of books on Amazon which are available for the same price, or less, in hardcover than the same title as an ebook.

  6. I have shelves full of hundreds of paperback and hardcover books at home, many of them cost much more than $15 but they represent physical objects that involved production and distribution costs which don’t exist for ebooks. Personally I chose not to spend more than $10 on an ebook as a rule of thumb. I will sometimes make am exception for a known author who’s new book I am eager to read, but I’m sorry this author is an unknown to me and I choose not to risk the disappointment.

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