cover image Relic


Alan Dean Foster. Del Rey, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-1-101-96763-8

Foster (Strange Music) tenderly explores humans’ need for companionship, home, and control of their own destinies in this gentle evaluation of people at their best and worst. Over 10,000 years, humans colonized their remote corner of the galaxy. Then hubris and foolishness lead to the species’ near extermination by a biological weapon. Immune, elderly survivor Ruslan was rescued from planet Seraboth by the three-legged Myssari, who are thrilled to study the last known human specimen. Although the Myssari are compassionate, lonely Ruslan yearns for others of his kind, but he also puts off consenting to his hosts’ cloning program, which could revive the species. To encourage Ruslan’s compliance, the Myssari search for more humans and the location of the ancient human home world called Earth. When two human children are discovered on a planet now claimed by the more aggressive, multijointed Vrizans, bargains and threats ensue. Despite a few missed opportunities for heightened drama, Foster’s sympathetic novel successfully surveys human frailty, the tendency not to learn from history, and an enduring capacity for adaptation and emotional attachment. Agent: Vaughne Lee Hansen, Virginia Kidd Agency. (Aug.)