Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favourite science fiction writers. The sheer scope of his vision was witnessed on the trilogy for which he is most well-known - Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars.

In those three epic stories he imagined a group of scientists and explorers heading to Mars to colonise the Red Planet. We got to know some of 'The First Hundred' and, over a period of decades, saw them terraform the planet - and get caught up in a revolution that had life-changing effects on them all.

Red Moon is another big story, although there are far fewer main characters.

We meet Fred Fredericks, a shy man making his first trip to the Moon, which is largely controlled by China, although the Americans are also gaining an increasing foothold.

Fredericks is unwittingly caught up in a murder as Chinese factions bid to outdo each other. He is thrown together with Chan Qi, daughter of China's minister of finance, who appears to be leading a revolution back on Earth.

Then there is celebrity travel writer and feng shui expert Ta Shu, who befriends the couple and tries to use his influence to help them - and sort out the

huge political upheavals on Earth.

Action veers from Moon to Earth and back and sometimes it's hard to fathom what's going on.

But Robinson's vivid depictions of what would be like to live on the Moon are hugely engaging.

Political manoeuvring and revolution are big elements but there is also some extremely sensitive and empathetic writing, such as when Ta Shu's mother dies.

Some of the set pieces are also superb, including Fredericks' and heavily pregnant Qi's desperate race across the Moon trying to avoid forces that want them dead.

In my view, the best book Robinson has written since the Mars trilogy.