Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich
Doubleday • $26.95 • ISBN 9780385533928
on sale July 12, 2011

Ben Mezrich is best known for his book The Accidental Billionaires, the basis for The Social Network. Although the story of how Facebook came to be is certainly a wild ride, Mezrich's latest tale may just be even wackier.

Sex on the Moon is about Thad Roberts, a bold, geeky NASA intern who falls in love—then steals moon rocks to prove it. (According to the book's subtitle, this is "the most audacious heist in history.") BookPage contributor Jay MacDonald interviewed Mezrich for our July issue, and the piece is worth a read for the behind-the-scene glimpse at what goes into writing such a complex, true-life story (a challenge when NASA names you persona non grata).

This book doesn't go on sale until next week, but read this excerpt for a taste of Mezrich's artful storytelling:

It was a moment every true scientist knew well—although it wasn't something quantifiable, it wasn't something you could predict or reverse-engineer or data-map or even really describe—but it was a moment that anyone who had spent time sequestered in a lab or behind a computer screen or at a blackboard, chalk billowing down in angry stormlike clouds, could identify, if not define.

Thad has his own word for it: serenity. The moment when the act of science organically shifted into the art of science; when even the most mundane, choreographed procedures achieved such a rhythm that they became invisible chords of a single violin lost in the complexity of a perfect symphony. Minutes shifting into a state of timelessness, where the world seemed frozen but Thad was somehow moving forward: content, fulfilled free.

The project itself was far from spectacular. Slicing away at a piece of volcanic rock using a tiny diamond-tipped saw while keeping track of every microscopic wisp of volcanic dust—accurately documenting the final weight of the sample that was left behind. The work was painstaking, but the volcanic rock was just a stand-in, like the mocked-up cockpit of the space shuttle. It was supposed to represent something infinitely more valuable. A chunk of the moon, hand-delivered more than thirty years ago by men whose names were enshrined in history books. For Thad, it didn't matter that the procedure was little more than a dress rehearsal. The process itself had overtaken him, and in that moment he was truly lost in the art of the science.

Will you read Sex on the Moon? What are you reading today?

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