Saturday, May 15, 2010


Novella by Carolyn Ives Gilman

Humans have colonized the under-ice ocean of a far away planet. The society that has developed in this colony is based on passive-aggression, as one character puts it. Social cues are everything and you rarely address anyone directly. I'd go nuts living there, but it is interesting.

Osaji is unhappy with her lack of self-determination or any kind of freedom and feels tied down by here Alzheimer's afflicted grandmother, and unable to escape because of the guilt. This is a fairly quiet story of interpersonal relations with a decent amount of sense-of-wonder, and I can't get into much detail without spoiling it, but not much detail is needed. She gets lost in unknown territory with a far from optimal set of companions. They discover some things, but more importantly learn a nice little lesson about the sweet spot between selfishness and selflessness.

I was disappointed by the ending: I quite liked the solution to the problem, but didn't like how patly things ended up. It made some of the beginning feel a bit pointless. On the other hand, I enjoyed seeing the change in Osaji, how she found a sense of adventure and became less entangled in her culture's counter-productive shortsightedness. I'm not saying the resolution should have been different in outcome, just that I'd have liked a little less of the human cost waved away by the author at the last minute.

The story was okay, the setting and the ship were damn cool. The Bennite idioms amused me. One might rate a story 3.5 out of 5.

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