Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Book Review: Horizons by Mary Rosenblum, SF epic or SF romance?

Rosenblum presents a future of humanity as intricately nuanced as Margaret Atwood, with a bit more of the hard SF readability of Asimov and Bova. The story is at once a mystery, with rich, futuristic characterization; a tale of political changes and intrigues, betrayals and loyalties, and blossoming love.

What will the trade and politics of Earth with its colony space stations be like? What will the colonials be like? If man can adapt to live in space, what will the adaptations be and how rapidly will they occur? Can non-Darwinian evolution occur with simple changes in phenotype being environmentally produced? Why are the newts in the caves of New Mexico blind today? These are some of the questions implicit to the themes in Rosenblum's adventure.

When Ahni visits a space habitat to search for her brother's killer, she finds a family of "new humans" that are hidden away for fear that their discovery will mean instant annihilation. They are just too different. Ahni befriends them and their protectors; thus getting involved in all sorts of power plays between the forces that wish independence for the space colonies with citizenship for this new race of humans, and a cult of racists that wish to destroy the habitats for their own reasons of power in governing all Earth's peoples.

It is an exciting read from an author that is skilled in world-crafting and characterization. You can decide which aspect of this novel appealed to you more, the romance or the sweeping epic. Either way, the book will make you think about where humanity is headed in its ethical treatment of those of us who are different.

Other books by Mary Rosenblum are The Drylands (1993), Chimera (1993), The Stone Garden (1994)and Water Rites (2007); four books I will now add to my list of books to read soon. I am always excited to find another author whose works I can expect to enjoy!

There was a touch of illegitimacy, lesbianism, and a scene of almost explicit sexual activity. Hence, as a teacher, I do not recommend the book to the normal YA audience. There is very little violence, though.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Reviews on SF found at the Dollar General

The Ethos EffectEnemies (Roc Science Fiction)The Hidden Worlds[I cannot get Rebel Moon on Amazon today. I did get it at the Dollar General a few years back.]

Above are the books from Amazon. Some must be purchased as ebooks.

I went into the Dollar General to get that inexpensive $1.00 box of Milk Duds to satisfy my sweet tooth on the drive to the house. I decided to check out the books while there. Lo and Behold, there were 4 science fiction paperbacks that looked interesting (I am soooo pickey). I did not buy the Ethos Effect, since I had already read that one by Modesitt.

What I did buy for $1.25 were The Hidden Worlds, Cosmonaut Keep, and Horizons.

Yes, these are all older books which are mostly sold as used books today. But then, in order to read the vast amounts of SF that I desire, I must shop at the used book stores and at the local library where used paperbacks are sold for a quarter and few SF fans release their copies. So I was thrilled to find 3 books I wanted to read at the Dollar General!

Of the set I have mentioned here, Enemies by Lee Hogan is on of my favorites; Rogue Moon is very like the movie Moon; and The Ethos Effect is the most thought- provoking. I recommend each to other SF fans as books that explore politics and alien relationships in multicultural futures. Rogue Moon's "alien" is a human clone, but...

Of the set I just bought, The Hidden Worlds is the only one I have had time to read yet. It could be called an SF Romance, but should appeal to men as well as women since it is not a bodice-ripper. It deals with some gritty references to aberrations that influence the story, so I, as a teacher, would not recommend it to YA readers; however the aberrations are not described or named, just implied, so maybe a mature YA reader could handle the content. Homosexuality and bisexuality is considered the norm on one of the planets and these relationships are handled as normal by the author. It is the cruelty of one psychotic, drug-addicted character, Rafael, that is the source of the aberrant behaviors.

In this future world, the Earth is a conquered planet and humanity has migrated to planets hidden from the enemy Cold Minds. The many new worlds of man are held together by a fleet of Master Pilots who can navigate the interstellar ships needed for trade and political cohesion. Author Kristin Landon deftly builds 3 distinct cultures spread between 3 worlds and an alien enemy in this page-turner that posts a mystery early on and explores family, traditional, and political relationships in uniques ways. What do you do when your whole life is built on a lie? Would you forfeit power and wealth to save others? Would you destroy a world so other worlds can survive? I rate the book a 5 and hope to read the other 2 that follow in this trilogy.
The Cold Minds (Ace Science Fiction)The Dark Reaches