Recently Andy Weir, whose bestselling novel “The Martian” became a smash hit movie starring Matt Damon, was at the San Diego Comic-Con during which he opened his mind concerning his next novel. The book, as yet untitled, will be set in a city on the moon and will feature a female career criminal. Weir also revealed that he has not only researched the science and technology aspects of building a city on another world, but also the social and economic implications.

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But he also suggested that some of that research will not appear in the novel if it gets in the way of telling the story.

When imagining a future of space colonies, many futurists neglect the economic aspects of cities on the moon or settlements on Mars. Communities have to make economic sense, which is why so many of them are built on sea coasts, along rivers, and trade routes. They have to attract business activity to thrive and grow.

One might hope that Weir, if he does not incorporate his research into the story, will reveal it in a separate essay.

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With interest increasing in the commercial development of the moon and other worlds, that kind of insight would be invaluable to business entrepreneurs and government policy planners. If the moon is to be brought into Earth’s economic sphere of influence, Weir’s thoughts on the matter would be welcome.

One suspects that a city on the moon would first and foremost be a port. Rocket fuel that has been refined from water would be shipped up to refueling stations in lunar orbit or one of the Lagrange points.

Helium 3 would be sent to Earth. Other raw materials that have been mined from the moon would go to space manufacturing facilities. In return, the moon city would import goods that cannot be readily manufactured on site.

All sorts of supporting businesses, from banks to dive bars, would grow up around the port. Thus the first community of humans would be created beyond the Earth.

The closing question is, when is the movie coming out and who is going to play the female criminal?

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