Mutagenesis

Helen Collins, Author
Helen Collins, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (349p) ISBN 978-0-312-85387-7
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-8125-2163-4
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This mildly entertaining but unconvincing first novel takes place in the year 2635 on the planet Anu, settled by colonists from Earth some 500 years earlier. A massive war that destroyed all technology on Earth ended contact between the two planets for centuries; now, a restored Earth civilization sends a mission to Anu to retrieve samples of plant life exterminated during the conflict. But patriarchal Anu society won't allow female geneticist Mattie Manan even to leave her spaceship. She is able to sneak out, however, and she meets Elizabeth, a talented Anu artist repressed because of her gender. With a band of other freedom-seeking women, they head for the Eastcountry, the site of potentially dangerous experiments that perpetuate Anu's subjugation of women. Collins writes glibly and creates appealing characters in a swiftly moving narrative, but she fails to portray Anu's misogynistic culture convincingly, and her explanations of how it evolved ring false. ( Feb. )
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