cover image The Waterdancer's World

The Waterdancer's World

L. Timmel Duchamp. Aqueduct, $19 trade paper (424p) ISBN 978-1-61976-109-4

This thoughtful but emotionally distant account of a failed colony world driven to rebellion against its corporate owners is told with a scholar's perspective, highlighting themes of art, family, freedom, and tradition as seen through the eyes of a travel guidebook and five carefully selected characters. The world called Frogmore is a rich source of mineral wealth, but its punishing gravity and atmosphere full of hallucinogenic spores have created physical as well as social distinctions between the "natives" and their overseers. Snobby philanthropist Inez Gauthier is insulted and confused when Solstice Balalzalar, a native "waterdancer" whose performances defy cultural norms, is unimpressed by Gauthier's offer to guide her career. Meanwhile, native workers and matriarchal families of women who work as surrogate birth mothers on Frogmore are strained by predatory economic policies that keep them at a disadvantage. Aqueduct editor Duchamp (Never at Home) raises some hard questions about society's responsibility for the well-being of its most marginalized people, suggesting that the powerful create the underclasses and keep them powerless for the sake of economic convenience. Readers will find much to ponder un Duchamp's provocative ideas about culture and colonization. (Oct)