The Children Star

Joan Slonczewski, Author Tor Books $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-86716-4
Two hundred years after the events recounted in Slonczewski's Daughter of Elysium (1993), little has changed in the confederacy of human worlds known as the Fold. The wealthy, near-immortal technocrats of Elysium still dominate Fold politics, and the Sharers still promote environmental concerns. On L'li, the population explosion continues with millions dying from malnutrition and disease. On Prokaryon, colonization proceeds slowly because each human colonist must undergo a painful process of genetic adjustment in order to survive on the planet. One successful colony there has been founded by a religious order, the Spirit Callers, who have devoted themselves to the rescue of L'liite orphans. Most of the other colonists on Prokaryon, both human and sentient machine, are small-scale miners or scientists working to uncover the planet's ""hidden masters,"" the perhaps mythical intelligences behind Prokaryon's suspiciously regular ecology. Both genetically altered colonists and indigenous life forms are threatened when an avaricious Elysian capitalist determines to take over Prokaryon for his own private domain. The main characters--Brother Rod, a Spirit Caller; Sarai, a renegade Sharer; 'jum, a six-year-old mathematical genius; Khral, an uplifted simian geneticist--all are soon engaged in a race against time to uncover the secret masters of Prokaryon and save the planet. Slonczewski, a noted biologist, has written a novel that features enough absorbing material on genetics and planetary ecology to satisfy any aficionado of hard SF. At the same time, she tackles a wide range of moral issues, from overpopulation to ecological responsibility and the ethics of machine intelligence. Remarkably, Slonczewski accomplishes all of this in a story that is not only exciting but also is filled with memorable characters, human, alien and sentient machine. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1998
Release date: 08/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-312-87162-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 349 pages - 978-0-8125-6862-2
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