SIGNS OF LIFE by Cherry Wilder


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 Wilder returns to the planet Rhomary (Second Nature, not reviewed) for this tale of a far-future cultural clash. In the feeble, jargon-cluttered opening, the starship Serendip Dana breaks into self-contained units (but why?) that land or crash on Rhomary. Unknown to the castaways, Rhomary is already inhabited by humans who arrived generations ago. One section of the starship lands on a large tropical island; aboard are First Lieutenant Anat Asher in charge of the crew members, several android ``oxper'' (Bishop from Alien is clearly the model here), the Silver Cross, a touchy and militaristic party of maintenance engineers, and the konos, a family group of entertainers. With no hope of rescue, the crew and the entertainers intend to settle down and build new lives, but the dangerously unstable Captain Boyle takes command of the Silver Cross and soon assumes authority over the entire group, against the wishes of the majority. Meanwhile, the Rhomarian brig Dancer, having observed the fall of the spaceship fragments, sails toward the island hoping to make contact with the newcomers. Wilder handles the complications caused by the castaways' power struggle and their eventual contact with the natives, with skill and insight. A dreadful start, but thereafter the laid-back narrative shapes up into a thoroughly believable and wholly absorbing venture.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-86171-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1996