MISSION CHILD

Science fiction spiritual odyssey from the author of Half the Day is Night (1994), etc. Teenager Janna lives in a small village on the tundra of a long-isolated colony world only recently rediscovered by Earth. She’s been educated at a mission set up by immigrants from Earth to help the natives withstand the high-tech imports that would destroy the local economy. Sure enough, a local tribe of “renndeer” herders soon obtains guns and whiskey and slaughters the village; only a few—including Janna and her boyfriend Aslak—escape. Janna, given implants by a missionary, hibernates through the long, frigid winter after Aslak and their baby daughter both die. In the spring, she wanders south to a camp run by offworlders, where food and shelter are available but vice is prevalent. She assumes the identity of a boy, Jan, and drifts to the city, where she becomes friends with wheeler-dealer Mika and, thanks to her ability to speak English, finds a job. Mika becomes her lover; but, unsure of her true identity, Jan continues to live as a man and accepts an implant that makes her part male, part female. Mika, involved in some very bad business, is murdered; Jan flees to the hot lands of the south, then buys a gun and bodyguards a smuggler. Despite Jan’s efforts, her employer is killed; Jan saves his niece Ming Wei and settles down on the latter’s grandmother’s farm before an offworld plague breaks out in a nearby town. Jan, immunized at the mission, nurses the sick and dying, and when offworlders eventually arrive to deal with the plague, she works for them as a translator. Only then does she discover that her world has a name. A panoramic, provocative, and heartfelt though inconclusive journey with a complex but perplexing heroine.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 1998

ISBN: 0-380-97456-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Eos/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...

DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

Did you like this book?

more