Friday, November 28, 2008

Natural History

Justina Robson's Natural History is a mix of great ideas, cool creations and mediocre characters that was a fun read, but ultimately not terribly satisfying. Her book is set some centuries hence where humans have created the Forged, genetically re-designed humans made to excel at certain tasks. Robson presents a more interesting take on the Cylon problem, how does created life deal with its creators? In this case, one member of the Forged stumbles onto a new technology that both reveals a potential home for the Forged as well as providing a means of getting there quickly. Of course the technology is more than it seems.

Many of Robson's creations are astounding. Some of the Forged are giant, including living spaceships, hive minds and, most fascinating, the terraforming class. These giants crawl over worlds like the Moon and Mars and slowly convert the environments into ones habitable for Earth life.

The problem with the book is that the story isn't very interesting overall. There is a political drama but it is never fully developed. The ending is rushed and is wrapped up a bit too tidily. You could do worse than this book, as Robson is certainly creative and thoughtful, but I think you could do a lot better.

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