Genre: science fiction
Length: 335 pages
Setting: far future in the Fold, mostly Prokaryon
Interest: It was a Phoenix Pick book some months ago. I had read the book the first time it was offered, but it was so long ago I wasn’t even writing book reviews at that time. I loved the book (and subsequently read more of Slonczewski’s work) and decided to read it again so I could review the book. It’s also the third book in the Elysium Cycle series.
Summary: Brother Rod is a member of the Spirit Brethren. He’s been Called to find orphan babies (the younger the individual, the faster they take to life-shaping) to bring to their new colony on Prokaryon. Because the environment is toxic to humans, only life-shaped individuals can survive. Nibur, a wealthy and powerful Elysium, wants to cleanse the entire planet and terraform it, which would destroy all the native flora and fauna. The terraforming plans are put on hold when it is discovered the microzooids (kind of like bacteria) that inhabit all the lifeforms on Prokaryon are actually sentient, but they need a living host in order to survive. There is fear the microzooids would cause a plague throughout the Fold and start controlling humanity, but a compromise is reached and the planet is saved.
Final thoughts: A very enjoyable book. It takes a chapter or so to get your head wrapped around the alien worlds and technology, but once you do the story is quite satisfying. Not a lot of action, but lots of politics and moral quandaries and what is the right thing to do in a tough situation. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book was because of the details of the biology the author provides – alien but plausible in the way the author presented it. I don’t read a lot of hard biological science fiction. You also get a taste of many of the worlds in the Fold, even if most of the story takes place on Prokaryon. Everyone’s supposed to be equal, but they’re not and there’s tension between the different races and worlds.
Also, I have to comment on how awful the artwork for the cover is. I’m glad I didn’t have to pick out the book from a bookstore, because the cover would do nothing to attract me. While the images are representative of the story, they certainly aren’t what I pictured in my head.
Title comes from: It’s what one of the main characters (‘jum) calls Prokaryon, based on a story her mother told her about a bright star in the sky which was where all the children were taken when they died.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 70/100 in my 100 Book Challenge
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