cover image Inferno: A Chronicle of a Distant World

Inferno: A Chronicle of a Distant World

Mike Resnick, Michael D. Resnick. Tor Books, $20.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85437-9

The pastoral planet of Faligor had everything: a temperate climate, bountiful wildlife, a primitive but intelligent and friendly indigenous population. It was a world where, as explorer/entomologist Susan Beddoes remarks, you believe ``you could toss a packet of seeds--any kind of seeds--out the hatch, and by tomorrow morning there'd be a garden in full bloom.'' Unfortunately for the native Faligori, called ``jasons'' for their golden fur, Faligor is just the kind of world required for ``Man's'' expansion through the galaxy. The presence of Men precipitates a series of genocidal rulers who oversee Faligor's assimiliation and the destruction of its culture. Resnick's indictment of colonialism lacks freshness mostly because the story sticks with the point of view of the colonizers whose simplistic arguments (``We brought this world literacy, medicine and civilization'') have long rung false to modern ears. Although the dynamic Susan Beddoes opens the book, she is soon shunted off stage in favor of Arthur Cartwright, a well-meaning but dull civil servant. The pristine world of Faligor, Resnick makes unequivocably clear, would have been better off left alone. (Dec.)