Study Guide for Menace Beyond the Moon

Study Guide for Menace Beyond the Moon


About the Author: Ted Butler is a grandfather of three and father of two, who lives in Washington State.  He retired from Boeing as a computer consultant.  He worked in radar in the United States Air Force.  He’s loved science fiction for over fifty years. 

He graduated from grade sixteen in Math/Computer Science from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California.

During his life he has washed dishes, shelved library books, bagged groceries, fixed Air Force radars, worked on a road survey crew, worked as an aerospace technician and then an engineer, later as a computer programmer.  He’s written a science fiction computer game called Hegira (not very successfully), taught computers, and written science fiction.

He’s helped launch secret satellites, ballistic missiles, and, a memorable thing for a science fiction writer, he touched space shuttle Endeavour during a special tour of Kennedy Space Center.


The inspiration for this book comes from several sources. 

From other fiction: The book Johnny Tremain (historical fiction) which the Disney Corporation turned into a movie.  From Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and his Red Planet (science fiction)

And, of course, also from the first book in this series, 2176: The Birth of the Belt Republic which seemed to cry out that all the story hasn’t been told.

From History: in particular the East India Companies of the 1700s and 1800s, and of course, from the American Revolution.

From Science: consider the immense mineral wealth of the main asteroid belt.  (See Mining the Sky by Lewis)


About the Story:

Gil Klanz is posing as Gil Rockaway, a cadet at the Earth Federation Naval Academy on the Earth’s Moon.

He discovers a Belt Corporation war fleet hiding behind the Moon and fears for his Belt Republic.

Because of solar storms electronic communications are jammed and the war fleet warning must be taken in person to the Belt Republic.

Gil is sent as part of a team to get that warning to the main asteroid belt.  The team leader tries to hijack their passenger/freighter, Jovian Star to divert it to the Belt Republic.  The hijacking goes terribly wrong and they are taken prisoner and threatened with death in a vacuum.

Gil convinces the Jovian Star’s captain to help them and he diverts his ship to asteroid hub Devonsport.

There they learn that Devonsport has secretly revolted against the Belt Corporation.  And they learn that the BC war fleet is headed for Devonsport as their first reconquest.

Gil is asked to help defend Devonsport and get the Belt Republic to send what help it can.  He must use courage, resourcefulness, and daring to hold off first the fleet and then its invading Belt Corporation marines.



The Characters:

Captain Cord: Head of Devonsport internal defenses.  Captain Cord had once served in the Mars Reserve Guard Force.

Lieutenant Evers- Self-assured assistant to Devonsport internal defense commander.

Captain Granath: head’s the Devonsport scooter defense force. 

Ambassador Elias Greene - former Belt Republic Councilman now ambassador to the Earth Federation from the Belt Republic. 

Mark Hardy – Boy age twelve, defense volunteer from scout troop.

Cindy Kelley – girl age eleven, defense volunteer from scout troop.

Gil Klanz – now nineteen, cadet at Earth Federation Naval academy under the identity Gil Rockaway.  Emigrated to the belt with his mother after his father died on Earth.  Also secretly a lieutenant in Belt Republic Militia on detached duty.

President Lomacks – President of the Belt Republic

Captain Sue Long: head Devonsport internal services such as disaster control.

Colonel Loren – head of Belt Republic Intelligence Service

Captain Porch: head of Devonsport asteroid based weapon crews. 

Colonel Sanford: Belter who once served in the Earth Federation, then emigrated to the main asteroid belt.

Lieutenant Seale: handled the detection department.

Commodore Timias Simms - once a freight foreman at Lomack Freight in book one, now a commodore in the Belt Republic navy. She commands the relief fleet sent by the Belt Republic to help the Devonsport rebels.

Lid Stevens-belter sergeant, Belt Republic, with Gil on Jovian Queen and Devonsport.

Kendra Wessen - Earthborn eighteen-year old daughter of Chief Engineer of Jovian Star.

Earth Federation - A federation of Earth nations, started in 2050.  EF long ago chartered the Belt Corporation to administer the asteroid belt and its trade.

Belt Corporation - BC has grown rich with its monopoly on belt trade.  It is a kind of East India Company of the asteroid belt.  It isn’t bad of itself, just exploitive, arrogant and careless of non-company lives.


Discussion questions

1.     Gil Klanz is at the Earth Federation naval academy for both personal reasons and a reason to serve his new nation.  Can you think of at least two of these reasons?

2.     Gil clashes with Shields a Belt Corporation cadet going to school at the Earth Federation Naval Academy too.  Can you think of at least two reasons for the animosity between these two?

3.     In the opening of this book, the author mentions that Commander Trent, the teacher, glides across the floor to the lectern.  Why does the author describe Trent’s walk this way?  Two reasons please.

4.     In this story a corporation has marines and warships and is involved in a war, while the government that chartered the corporation is neutral in the same war.  Can you find other cases where a commercial company had its own military and even went to war?  There is at least one example in Earth’s history.

5.     In this story Gil Klanz feels his country is in danger from the hidden war fleet.  If you learned of a threat to your country or city.  What would you do?  List at least three things and give a reason why please. 

6.     In this story Gil is a student cadet at the academy.  He is using the name Gil Rockaway instead of his real name Gil Klanz.  Can you give a reason why he does this? 

7.     The Earth Federation is neutral in the fight between the Belt Corporation and the brand new Belt Republic.  Yet still Gil is there as Gil Rockaway.  Give two reasons why you feel his government has sent him there.  Hint, there is a present reason and a future reason. 

8.     In this story people there are several characters that are “activated” as reservists.  Many nations have reserve military that go on with their civilian lives until activated to be military people.  Suggest two reasons why a nation might do this.  Would these military be as practiced as full time ones?

9.     In the story the Jovian Star and the BC fleet choose to go to Devonsport, a different part of the asteroid belt than the capital of the Belt Republic, Keras.   Is this a major coincidence?  Is the author pushing chance by putting this in the story?  Why or why not?

10.   In the story the hero and his friends were threatened with spacing, so that they would die in vacuum.  No air to breathe and parts of your body could burst from internal pressure.  Why were they threatened?  Is there a tradition for a ship captain having this kind of justice power?

11.    If you could be one of the characters in this book who would it be?  Why?  Would you do things the same way as the character you’ve chosen?  Why or why not?


Part Three: Topics for Research and Discussion

 1.     The story opens on the Moon.  Gil gets a letter from the Earth that traveled by spaceship.  If that message had been       sent by radio without the story jamming, what would be the light speed delay between the Earth and the Moon?

2.     The story talks about electronic ways of sending messages to the Moon.  Laser and radio.  Would there be a time delay between a message being sent from the Earth to the Moon and its arrival at the Moon?  If so what approximately would that delay be?  Would the time delay for these messages (laser, or radio) be the same?

3.     In the story Gil goes to a part of the academy that has a kind of shrine.  What event is enshrined?  When did it happen?  Why would a space academy make this event important to cadet? 

4.     This book is a science fiction novel.  Can you list two things that make this story science fiction? 

5.     One of the reasons for the wealth and power of the Belt Corporation in the novel is the value of resources in the asteroid belt.  Calculate the value of a two-kilometer diameter asteroid made of iron at today’s prices.  Hint: The mass of such an asteroid would be around 30 billion tons and it would be about sixty percent iron and forty percent nickel.

6.     What would be the value if one percent of the asteroid were platinum?



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                                                 Study Guide for Menace Beyond the Moon by  Ted Butler