opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
[personal profile] opusculasedfera
Absolutely unqualified recommendation. This book was wonderful.

Delarua, a biotechnician on Cygnus Beta, has to work with Dllenahkh, an alien government official whose planet has just been destroyed, as part of a team to attempt to settle his party of refugees effectively. It's all about co-operation and negotiation and accomodation, as they try to integrate Dllenahkh's people into Cygnus Beta without demanding assimilation from either side. They spend most of the book travelling around Cygnus Beta trying to work out what the Sadiri need in order to settle, and the book does a very good job of managing to show us a variety of cultures and the enormous impact of this much destruction, while not ignoring the personal side at ALL. I adored all the members of the team, and their friendships. It's a two protagonist book definitely, but the supporting cast is a ton of fun.

The world-building is stunning. Cygnus Beta actually feels like a whole planet: there are a variety of cultures and political entities, and none of these are unrealistically isolated from each other. There are humans, but there are no direct analogues to current or historical human cultures, although it's clear that Earth's cultures have not been forgotten.

It reminded me strongly of Janet Kagan, particularly Hellspark, or Vonda McIntyre's Starfarers books. Lord has that same interest in generally well-intentioned people trying to do their best. Unlike in Hellspark, Lord introduces social complications that are a matter of much more than etiquette and that her protagonists are incapable of actually solving, but this isn't a world where terrible things happen constantly because that's supposed to be "realistic." Terrible things happen, but good things too, and it's always reasonable to at least try.

Lord also does a wonderful job creating a society that is very concerned with fertility and the sense that they really need to not die out (which is a very comprehensible response to massive death tolls), but that nevertheless actually has solid respect for women and motherhood. I've read too much SF that seemed to think that you absolutely couldn't do anything except be sexist in order to encourage women to have kids, so it was nice to see someone write a society that was casually very, very interested in babies, but also very, very convinced that women are people. (Nb: no babies actually appear; it was just obvious that many of the characters were interested in them and planned to have them in the future. I am not into kidfic and found this book incredibly charming.)

The only complaint I can make about this book is that this is the cover (with a very similar picture of a man's face on the back), which is irritating when I'm not sure anyone in this book is anywhere near that pale. This is not Lord's fault in any way, but should perhaps be mentioned.

Also I wanted to squish Delarua and Dllenahkh's faces together (or, whatever, cause them to subtly brush the sides of their hands against each other in a culturally appropriate public display of affection. One of the two.) And then the book did it for me! With amazing build-up of their professional and friendly relationships, and dealing with their assorted relationship issues! Also telepathy! I'm amazed by Lord's ability to demonstrate the more horrible side of telepathy, and then make it a charming and non-invasive part of their courtship, because telepathy sounds HORRIBLE to me in general, but I could really feel what they were getting out of it by the end (plus they did actually have some degree of mental privacy, which seems so desperately necessary, I must say.)

Occasionally this book did feel a little bit like nuTrek fic that had said fuck YOU, movie, I'm going to have COHERENCE and DEAL WITH massive trauma. But only in a great way. There's an author's note that says she did a bunch of reading on the cultural trauma caused by the 2004 tsunami, which I'm perfectly sure is true, but a lot of the plot beats were awfully similar to the destruction of Vulcan arc. Especially the time travel. And the people who turn out to have destroyed it. And Dllenahkh's ex-wife who arranged for him to to fight her lover. The Sadiri in general are a little like a Vulcan that actually makes sense. Other than the ex-wife though, Dllenahkh is very much not Spock (though if you like Spock, you'll probably like him), and Delarua is neither Kirk nor Uhura in any way. So I'm not saying that it feels like Trek fanfic with the serial numbers filed off. But if you were at all interested in a response to the issues that that movie raised and then failed utterly to deal with, then you might like this.

Date: 2013-04-14 08:52 am (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
I could Swear To God I read a series of Trek fic that was this book, including the romance, genetic testing, and somewhat autonomous local gov'ts. I'm totally ordering this book form the library, because I am seriously intrigued at this point. Does the female main chara have a sister? Does she visit the sister in the course of the book?

Date: 2013-04-14 05:46 pm (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
Um, I think yes? There is definitely some domestic drama. The kids are more psychic! than thought....?

Date: 2013-04-14 07:42 pm (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
Yes, yes, that's right! He had a hidden talent, and he was using it unethically, he had messed with Delarua's mind while they were together. He can put stuff in your head!

Uh, pretty much all the chara were OC. The main female character esp. was original, because she was the main representation of the planet's culture. The vulcans were, well, very vulcan-y.

Date: 2013-04-14 08:00 pm (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
I will totally try to remember to report back when the book comes in! Haha, one of the reviews when I was looking up the book said that the scenes are self-contained, and they don't seem to move the story along as a whole. Seeing as it started out as a SERIES of fics... :D

Date: 2013-04-21 10:40 pm (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
Okay, the book came in and I read it, and YUP. This was definitely that fic I read. I remember most of it, from knowing they'd wash up in the temple when they crossed the bridge, to dreading the court-scene when the kid dropped the glass.

Honestly, either the book went through a lot of editing while it was still on the internet, or her editor didn't change much, because the only big change I can think of is the ultimate source of the races. The metallic skin people were some Trek race, and of course she changed humanoid to humans when talking about how all the people were related. I think it helps make the genetics a little more plausible!

Oh! And I think she stuck in the Sidiri mind-ships too, and Dllenahkh's old friend that time traveled wasn't his old friend, and was in fact Spock!Prime. I think? I hope I'm not conflating stuff as I try to remember... :p

Date: 2013-04-22 02:06 am (UTC)
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)
From: [personal profile] everbright
Well, the larger political picture is ripped straight form Trek, but I think she built a really nice planet. I love the isolated little settlements and the worldwide attitudes about survival and independence.

Date: 2013-05-01 06:38 pm (UTC)
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (selim says lol)
From: [personal profile] skygiants
OMG! I just finished this book and was thinking how much like Trek!fic it felt when I came back to read other people's reviews; I am so entertained to find out it literally started as fic! KUDOS KAREN LORD, I guess. *cracking up*

Date: 2013-04-16 08:14 pm (UTC)
joatamon: (Hewlett)
From: [personal profile] joatamon
Thanks for this rec - I've added the book to my wishlist: sounds interesting!


opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)

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