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.

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