January 25, 2016

Forge of Heaven by C.J. Cherryh

Title:  Forge of Heaven
Author:  C.J. Cherryh
Pages:  405
Genre:  Science Fiction
Publisher:  EOS, 2004
Series:  The Gene Wars, Book 2
This one held surpises. Like the desert. Like the sea. This one broke the rules wisely. Like him. Like Hati.
Synopsis:  At the far edge of the galaxy, tiny Concord Station holds a unique place in the universe - the one place where humans from Earth, the strange Outsider worlds, and the extremely powerful, alien ondat all coexist, bound together to the fate of the fragile world below. Scarred by vicious nanotechnology unleashed by the powerful ondat, this lone desert planet acts as the crucible to determine whether there can be peace between the far-spanning empires of the universe, or unending, unstoppable war to rival even the cataclysmic Gene Wars that once devastated untold galaxies.

The fate of one man could decide the future of human and alien alike ... and the ondat are watching.

Review:  This book took me a week to read.  A week!  It is a good book, a great story, and very original, but it was not an easy read.  So much technology and so many societal changes make for a difficult journey in some places.

Still, the planet is awesome.  The characters are wonderfully written.  Marak and Hati are still around, thanks to the near-immortality they got from the nanisms they were given by Luz (who is also still around).  The Ila is still playing her little self-centered games.

The new characters on the scene, in the Concord Station, are what make this story really special.  Procyon and his sister, Ardath, are two very unique individuals.  The ondat are alien and completely unknowable and scary, but not aggressive.  While I don't know that I believe our society will ever be like the one described in this book, it's impressive but also very sad.  Genetically altering your looks has become almost as easy as getting a haircut.

It would seem the answer to most of my questions is this -- humanity discovered how to easily genetically alter themselves.  Some people thought this was a great idea, others didn't.  Some people thought it would be a great way to open new worlds to colonization, others disagreed.  Thus, The Gene Wars were fought.  The end result has effectively left planets where this genetic altering was used (like Marak's) in a state of exile.  No one is allowed on the planets and no one is allowed off.  Entire governmental agencies have been created to keep the 'no longer human enough humans' contained.  Earth and the closest colony planets want very little to do with the outer planets and nobody wants anything to do with the 'contaminated' (and, according to the more paranoid, contagious) planets.  In this future, we can add to our long list of -ism's a brand new one - speciesism.

Rating:  7 / 10

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