Ben Mezrich (a previously published author of 11 books) has written Sex on the Moon (ISBN 978-0-434-02079-9, Random House, 2011), and I suppose it goes with the old adage ‘sex sells’, well in this case the cover caught my eye amongst the hundreds of titles in my local Bookazine. Sex does sell!
The plot runs around a young American Mormon who is kicked out of the church and his family’s home for having pre-marital sex. The offender, young Thad, then moves in with his girlfriend and with no real ideas about his future, decides that he wants to be an astronaut.
Readers who are old enough will remember the strip cartoon Charles Atlas advertisements where the weakling has sand kicked in his face, but after a Charles Atlas course he lets the bully have what he deserves. Did any 97 lb sand kicking weakling ever believe those ads? I really doubt it. However, in this book, the hero Thad changes from a timid failed Mormon to someone who would carry out a heist of priceless moon rocks. That a clever young man would be able to work out how to do this is quite credible, but that he would be able to shrug off the morality of it all, with his Mormon background, is not so credible.
However, the story is reputedly true, and author Mezrich notes at the beginning of the book that it is a “narrative account based on multiple interviews, numerous sources, and thousands of pages of court documents. He does point out that the story is written from Thad’s point of view, without Author Mezrich actually endorsing them himself.
You are led through the actual robbery by Thad, and this showed just how lax security at a NASA base really is/was. The plan was not brilliant, but was successful because of the poor security.
Of course, to make it all worthwhile, Thad has to sell the moon rocks he has stolen, and he finds himself with a spaced-out drop-out, who trawls the internet, looking for a buyer, and amazingly, does come up with someone in Belgium who expresses interest.
Unfortunately for Thad and his space-monkey Gordon, this all comes to the notice of the FBI, which mounts a ‘catch or destroy’ mission, with tens of agents and police, complete overkill with this bunch of amateurs, led by Thad the dreamer, Thad the totally immature, thinking he was giving his girlfriend a present that no one else had done on Planet Earth. A trip into fantasyland for a young girl he had known for less than a month.
Despite the prolific nature of Author Mezrich’s book writing, it reads as if he had just been to some creative writing course which entails that every noun gets an adjective e.g. “fake-wood bureau”, “vomit colored carpet”, “bright red plastic cups”, and so on. Perhaps this was Thad’s description of his life, environment and background, but it certainly made reading more tedious than it should.
At B. 630, it is at the upper bracket of paperbacks, but it is still an engrossing book, without being riveting.