Monday, 12 April 2010
SFAM | Guest Review | Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon (Orbit/Baen)
Title: Remnant Population
Author: Elizabeth Moon
Publisher: Baen (US) / Orbit (UK)
Pages: 339 / 368
Release Date: 1st May 1996 (US) / 7th Mar 2002 (UK)
Reviewed by Ove Jansson
Buy from: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com
Hello everyone, My name is Ove Jansson and I want to tell you about my love for Science Fiction. I have been a vivid reader of Science Fiction since I first picked up Have Space Suit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein at the school library back in 1973. I was amazed and started to read everything SF and Fantasy I could lay my hands on, and I soon switched to English for new books. I am not sure I have refined my appetite much since then, I still like coming of age stories, any story where the characters grow and learn really. Being amazed or hitting that wow moment is important in my reading and that’s why I love Science Fiction. It provides wow moments with regularity. What’s not to love with a genre that provides clever ideas, space travel, intriguing aliens and fantastic gizmos? I like strong female protagonists like Ofelia in Remnant Population, who faces first contact all alone on an abandoned colony. I also like Space Opera and Military science fiction maybe because I used to be an officer and hopefully gentleman in the Swedish Army before switching to a career in IT. Since a little more than a year now I also run my own blog cybermage.se where I write about anything SF, please visit me there if you want to know more. It’s an honor to be here and I hope I can convey a little of how much I love reading SF. Thank you Mark for a wonderful idea.
Now I must tell you about one of my very best dearest friends, sorry books.
Meet Ofelia, she is a mature woman past childbearing who never got a chance to make something of herself. The setting is the one town on a company owned colony. She lives with her obnoxious son Barto and his wife Rosara in town when we learn that the company lost the franchise to the planet. All colonists have to leave. Ofelia has had enough and decides to stay when the others leave. I love to listen to Ofelia’s thoughts and to see her planning to stay behind.
She avoids the last shuttle and she is left all alone. The only human left on the planet. Ofelia can now live her own life as she like. It feels so liberating to read about it all. I want to be there all alone too that’s how wonderful it reads.
Half a year or so later the colony’s radio comes alive with human voices again. It’s the new company with a shipload of settlers. They don’t know Ofelia is down there, and their plan is to settle their colony closer to the equator on the grass plains there, far away from the old colony. They land and start to clear the area with heavy machinery when unknown aliens with knifes and spears attack and kill them all, to the last man, woman and child. While Ofelia listen to it all on the radio. Ofelia gets the scare of her life and she can’t talk to the ship before it leaves because the colonist realigned the communication satellite to the new colony.
Being all alone doesn’t feel safe anymore for Ofelia. She lives her life in fear now, in fear of the killers that lives somewhere on the planet. She starts to see dangers here and there.
One rainy stormy night she makes contact …
And that’s when the real story begins :-) Read it!
Elizabeth Moon has a real knack for lovable characters especially when it comes to formidable old ladies. Remnant Population is a very personal first contact story told from both Ofelia’s point of view and the aliens. It is intense and both the aliens and Ofelia act in believable ways that makes sense to the reader. It is in my opinion one of the best first contact stories ever and it should be a good story to start with if you are new to science fiction because it’s so character driven while providing most of the allure of the genre.