"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Really quick review: Permanence by Karl Schroeder

Something going on in my community reminded me of how, when I was a child, my father infected me with his own lifelong interest in utopias, both literary and sociological. I can remember him explaining that though they never survive for long, at least as originally envisioned, they are always worth the trying and have much to teach us. I've relished dozens, maybe hundreds, of utopian and dystopian tales in my life, and many are science fictional. This one, for instance, isn't exactly about utopias, but like a lot of science fiction it is full of characters all striving, in different ways, to find a better way for the species to live.

Permanence (2002) by Karl Schroeder (from my review in SLJ)

In this future, humans have long-since mastered the art of surviving in alien environments but have become divided.

Pioneer Halo Worlders first left our home world to settle brown dwarfs between the visible stars, adapting to new environments with daring, art, and creativity. But when faster-than-light travel was discovered, the wealthier, more monolithic Rights Economy moved out and claimed for itself all the richer, more Earth-like planets of the "lit" stars; that society's overriding principle is ownership--of everything.

Meanwhile, the human need for enlightenment expresses itself through Permanence, a non-metaphysical religious order seeking the eternal survival of the human species.

In a beginning reminiscent of classic Heinlein, scrappy young Rue daringly escapes from a bad situation and heads for her home in Halo World. Along the way she happens upon an alien artifact that promises to make her rich, but instead lands her in a galactic crisis; she must find her sea legs fast. Meanwhile, in a Rights Economy project, Michael, a monk in the outlawed NeoShinto order, is assisting in a scientific study of extinct alien civilizations as he covertly collects their kami, or essence.

Rue, Michael, and a large cast of equally colorful characters must determine the correct use of mysterious alien technology and then fight like the dickens if their species is to survive. This suspenseful, complex tale asks many intriguing philosophical questions and illustrates more scientific principles than a semester of science labs. Some readers might not quite follow all of the plot's rapid twists and turns, but they will want to hang on to reach the story's satisfying conclusion, where a thoughtful solution emerges amid plenty of fireworks.

Ad astra...

No comments: