Around the World... and over the Moon

The Age, 18 May 1996 (Melbourne, Australia)

The Far Earth Restaurant offers excellent views of Earth, while the Mont Blanc Resort has reasonable rates and boasts its own golf course.

Room reservations are essential - and this situation is not expected to change until more accomodation comes on stream.
Interested? Well, don't try to buy a package just yet.

Useful-sounding advice, in classic guidebook style, is plentiful in what must be the world's most unusual travel guide: Moon Handbook: A 21st-Century Travel Guide.

California-based imprint Moon Publications is highly regarded for its down-to-earth guides to destinations as diverse as Alaska and Fiji.
But, with a corporate moniker like Moon, a guidebook to the Moon was probably too cute a marketing opportunity to pass by.

Written by Dutch astronomer and science writer Carl Koppeschaar, Moon Handbook: A 21st-Century Travel Guide is a whimsical blend of fact and fiction set in the future.
Factual information about the usual topics such as geography, geology and climate - as well as the history of the Cold War space race between the United States and then the Soviet Union - is well-researched and peppered with fascinating anecdotes.

Koppeschaar builds on this factual base to create a fictional tourist destination. "It's 2020 - and 23 years since the space agencies of Earth launched the joint return to the Moon project." Early exploration was difficult and settlement basic - but efforts spearheaded by the Japanese soon led to the development of a few comfortable resorts.

"Since the Moon is considered the common heritage of humankind, visas are not required. Only a limited number of travellers may visit at one time, so be sure to plan accordingly," Koppeschaar cautions.
He baulks at putting a price-tag on on a trip aboard the Lunar Transfer Vehicle but, after all, this is a book for armchair travellers.

Detailed descriptions are given of tours to real and spectacular locations such as Alphonsus Crater, the Straight Wall, Linne Crater and the Mountain of Eternal Light.

Added to these are fictional accounts of what to see at the Moon Museum and the Lunar Far Side Observatory.

There is even a cultural advice so that Earthlings don't make fools of themselves while on holiday - as they often do on their own planet. Moon settlers - Lunarians, as the author calls them - "frown at the Earth practice of fliping coins to settle bets or make a choice, not because of superstition but because of the possibility of cheating. The flipped coin falls so slowly that the person who catches it may be able to see if it's going to be heads or tails."


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