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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper

The Silver Ship and the Sea by Brenda Cooper. New York, Tor, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-765-31597-7

This is the first solo novel by Ms. Cooper. She previously collaborated with Larry Niven on Building Harlequin's Moon, which was published in 2005. When I read the blurb on this book, I thought (and hoped) that it was a new stab at an old SciFi theme, namely the settling and taming of a new planet, with all the risks and dangers that inevitably involves. In this case a planet rife with life, but non sentient, just dangerous.

But no, the book is really about a conflict between genetically enhanced humans an normal humans, people who, in fact, abhor the whole notion of genetic enhancement, and came to this planet to escape that very thing. There has been a war between the two groups, and almost all of the genetically enhanced folks were killed. One adult, and six children, barely toddlers at the time of the war. They are farmed out to various of the normal folks, who act (to varying degrees) as parents for them.

As this story unfolds, the kids are growing up, becoming young adults, and facing resentment, discrimination, and in some cases, outright hostility. So the story becomes almost de facto, a commentary on the racism and intolerance we find in the real world today, and focuses much more on the interaction between the normals and the enhanced, than on the battle to survive in a hostile environment. Too bad, as this is a less interesting premise for a SciFi tale, in my jaundiced view.

While it's not quite the book I was hoping for, it is a fairly well written, mostly entertaining story. I didn't find the basic premise, nor the ending, quite believable, though. If the original several hundred of the enhanced could not defeat the several thousand original settlers, how can a mere 7 do so now? They don't, not completely, but—well to say much more would be to act in a spoiler role, so I won't.

Marginally recommended for most SciFi fans. A sequel, Reading the Wind, is apparently in the works.

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