Monday, November 30, 2009

Finally back to scifi

Seems like forever since I have picked up a good mass market paperback scifi novel. I had been looking at Kay Kenyon's The Braided World for years and have owned for nearly that long. It was a great read and a nice return to science fiction. It is an anthropological/first contact scifi novel in the vein of Mary Doria Russell or Orson Scott Card in which a mission sent from a dying Earth hopes to find a means to restart the human race on a distant planet.

A rich former opera singer funds a mission to the planet based on a message which says that the planet has what they have what Earth has lost. The captain dies just as the expedition arrives (wouldn't you know it?), putting the whole thing in the hands of two junior officers. The planet is inhabitated by what looks like humans who call themselves the Dassa. Unfortunately, they have some peculiar habits including slavery for women capable of breeding in the human way. The political system is confusing enough to lead to miscalculation by the novice diplomats.

Kenyon is great at creating peculiar societies and here she has made a world in which the strange biology of the Dassa leads to a odd political system. The plot revolves around the attempts by humans and Dassa to use each other to get what they want. There are a few cliches here and there, but I really liked it.

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