I read a book years ago about a colony on the moon. Nanotechnology played a huge part in the story. No, it wasn't either of the Ben Bova moon books. In this one, the main character (and almost all the others) has a complete sex change using nanotechnology. The society in this story doesn't have to work, but people do to keep from getting bored. I believe the main character was a reporter or some sort of journalist. For some reason, I think the author was from Oregon, not sure about that. I've searched and can't locate this book...

PS- one memorable thing was that one of the secondary characters would have been the queen of England, if they still lived on earth. The feeling I remember having was that the author was commenting on the worthlessness of such status- that true value is in our ability to contribute.

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    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 20, 2017 at 7:22
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/222855/… (which is newer but has an accepted answer)
    – Otis
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Could this be Steel Beach by John Varley?

The "steel beach" in question is Luna, Earth's moon and the most heavily inhabited world in the solar system since the Invaders obliterated human civilization on Earth; the title alludes to humans being figuratively thrown onto the inhospitable moon, paralleling fish that made their way onto land in the evolution of amphibians.

The protagonist, Hildy Johnson, is a newspaper reporter (cf. His Girl Friday; also cf. in reference to Hildy's sex) who finds trouble beneath the surface of the near-utopian society run by the Central Computer. The Central Computer runs every aspect of every person's life: it is the government, court, information source, and friend to every citizen.

Hildy is male at the beginning of the novel. He has become dissatisfied with his life, much like many others on the moon who take part, for example, in destructive activities such as "slash boxing"—a blend of knife fighting and boxing, on which Hildy reports. He has made multiple suicide attempts

For the record, John Varley is from Austin, Texas not Oregon although he did live there briefly.

  • 2
    The Princess of Wales bit matches Steel Beach, as well. And the first line of the novel is not easily forgotten. Commented May 20, 2017 at 7:23

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