Seidner’s debut sci-fi about one woman’s quest in a bleakly depopulated future.
Capt. Heather Staman is a Pure Born. Having been raised to maturity in Safe Zone I, a place of nutrition tubes and strict laws, she has been “assigned a path to an elite function.” Heather’s job as an officer for the Maintainers is to reclaim “genetically perfect beings for the breeders to rear behind the shielded walls where the Powers abided.” It is a task that eventually takes her beyond Safe Zone I and into a world where the moon can’t be seen due to fallout from nuclear war. Given the task of finding a redheaded girl and bringing her back to the Powers (i.e., the ruling elite), Heather sets about her assignment with utmost seriousness. Life beyond Safe Zone I is dangerous, with civil unrest becoming ever more common: “The riots were no longer isolated outbursts performed by frazzled individuals, but rather they were building in intensity, showing communities working together to overthrow the Powers and take down the immigration walls.” Pinpointing her target, Heather finds an “exotic microcosm” that’s more advanced than she imagined. As the story progresses past Heather’s mission with the redheaded girl, readers learn more about the world, one in which Heather’s partner Colm grows roses of different colors, though none have a scent. What will happen in this bizarre setting of social unrest and genetic obsessions? Complex in its makeup, the society presented sometimes proves difficult to elucidate. The book begins with a “Contractual Agreement” that explains such details as Orb light and Social Norms, yet actions and events of interest take their time in appearing. The complexity nevertheless leads to exciting possibilities, as with the seemingly strange match of an officer like Heather and a “grower of roses” like Colm. As Colm admits: “I wonder, why did they put us together. Our stations, our temperaments, the way we think and act, we don’t match at all.”
Building on the dystopian traditions of Orwell and Huxley, the story intriguingly examines not just troubled society but the individuals living in it.