May 25th, 2018

Winter Sunlight

Read all the Cherryh: Forty Thousand in Gehenna

Well, that sure was a 1970s/80s sci-fi novel ...

I was reading this one simultaneously with Finity's End, but ended up switching over to the other one because I was enjoying it a lot more. This book is very bleak in places, even more so than you'd expect for the premise (a colony on an unexplored world loses touch with the homeworld; the book then follows multiple generations who grow up and die and change, as well as the very alien aliens they share the planet with) -- therefore, due to the generation-saga nature of it, just when you get to know one set of characters, they die, while most of what they used to know is lost. Also, you know how a lot of sci-fi is fundamentally "problem solving" in nature? This book is basically the opposite of that -- the entire plot hinges around the characters being absolutely terrible at solving problems. (Although in very human ways.) I was also generally baffled by the overall incuriousness of the colonists and the people who eventually reestablish contact; you have a whole entire PLANET you know nothing about and you just kind of ... sit there, not looking at it? (This generally seems to be a thing in the Alliance-Union 'verse re: planets, which I'm becoming aware of from reading a bunch of these books back to back. People, not just as individuals but as a society, are oddly incurious about them.)

ALIEN PLANETS, PEOPLE ...!

All of that being said, I got a lot more engaged with the book in the last third, when it follows the same group of characters long enough to get attached, and has some interesting points to make about civilization vs. barbarism. Which are spoilery.

SpoilersCollapse )

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