July 13, 2011

Celestis by Paul Park

Title:  Celestis
Author:  Paul Park
Format:  PB
Pages:  287
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  Tor, 1997
ISBN-13:  978-0312862855
Series:  Stand Alone

Favorite Quote:  Here in this world the sun rose and set only for travelers.  The colonists still talked about day and night and morning and evening, but it was out of a nostalgic habit, a collective memory.  The words had no meaning under the inevitable sun.

Synopsis (Back Cover):  Paul Park has written an extraordinary, challenging, and disturbing novel about a human colony on a distant alien world, the planet Celestis. The native humanoid population is subjugated by the human colonists, but many of the Aboriginals undergo medical procedures involving surgery and drugs to make them look and think more like humans. As support from home wanes, the "improved" Aboriginals launch a rebellion against the colonists. Simon, a political functionary from Earth, and Katherine, the altered daughter of a successful native merchant, are taken hostage by the rebels. Simon falls in love with Katherine, but, cut off from a supply of the medication she needs to maintain her humanlike state, her suppressed alien nature begins to reemerge. As she discovers her true self, hidden vistas of expanded alien perception are revealed in a stunning exploration of the limits of humanity.

Review:  This story was dark.  The two aliens were perhaps humanoid, but definately not human-like.  The colonists came and changed the world, nearly killing off the entirety of one race and completely remaking the other. 

The colonists see what they want to see, which is a world for humans, but the planet was not meant for our kind.  The aliens had a symbiotic type of relationship that we mistook for slavery. 

I'm not sure I understood even half of what I read.  So much, especially the thought processes of the aliens, was beyond my experience or ability to understand.  Even so, I found I couldn't stop reading.  I was actually rooting for the aliens, but, in the end, mankind is standing and the last of one race of aliens is dead.  But I question whether the colonists won.  There were no winners and everyone lost something important.

Rating:  7 / 10

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