In Fox’s (Becoming Green, 2013, etc.) latest sci-fi outing, survivors of a mass infection are threatened by a government that is looking to sanction genocide.
People like Ernie Flores who’ve survived the devastating Sunny disease call themselves Greens, on account of their green, photosynthetic skin and yellow-green eyes. Blanks, the Greens’ name for non-Green humans, fearing further infection, hold the survivors in Camp Aurora. But when Lilly gives birth to Adam, the first child born Green, the U.S. government offers Greens a choice: sterilization or deportation. The latter entails colonizing Mars, which seems the better option since walking among Blanks requires wearing hazmat suits and enduring their unmasked animosity. Some in the Senate, however, have other plans, believing that euthanizing Greens is the only way to ensure humanity’s survival. Fox’s second installment reveals life after the infection that started in the first. Many scenes in and around Camp Aurora feel separate from the main plot: Ernie’s daughter Gloria is bitten by a venomous snake; pals Tom and Art are caught by guards outside of the camp; and there’s even a rape and murder of a young Green woman. These moments, however, establish the Blanks’ hatred of Greens, who’ve become pariahs. And the wedding of scientists/Green allies David and Di likewise serves an alternate purpose; the interracial coupling foreshadows a Green-Blank relationship, which may give the nefarious senators an excuse for executing a Green genocide. Many themes here are analogous to current issues; Fox directly acknowledges racism, but other ideas are also explored, from religion to evolution. The novel’s final act is fraught with anticipation; it becomes a question of whether Ernie, et al. can get to Mars before the government wipes out the Greens.
Complex plotting and rich characterization will leave readers itching to see where the series goes.