This novel was as beautiful and masterfully visualized - if not even more - as her other books I read so far. But suddenly there was a dull red star that beckoned him with a warmth that was more than solar. Yes, Evangeline is right: humans language is sometimes too small; for me, at least. I wont say another word about her; youll have to discover yourself. The development is slow but leading to an explosive climax and throughout all the journey gripping nonetheless, because Mrs. Hobb/Lindholm, as I said and I will repeat myself, always knows how to choose the right words to keep you hooked, to the point that you forget to breathe.
An alien species, the Arthroplana, came with their Beastships to rescue most of the human population. In one of them (Evangeline), a certain John is captain (but it's still Tug, the Arthroplana, who's really in charge), although that was not what the tests gave as first result of what he should be / have become. Or, in other words, due to the long sleeping and short periods of activity, they age very slowly and their bodies develop less fast than when they would have spent their lives on Earth/Terra. But then there's Earth Affirmed, who want to prove that Earth is not dead, that after all those years/centuries, it's safe to go back and continue to live there. And so the fellowship (Evangeline, Tug, John, and Connie) set out to Earth. There's a lot of manipulation by Tug, who tries to win Connie to his side, as he can't really become friends with John anymore, based on earlier co-operations and travels. Little by little, and though her mental conversations with Raef, whom she discovered one way or another, because that's an area where Tug has less or no control, the womb chambers, Evangeline manages to free herself from the shackles and slave-driving tactics by Tug, who manipulated her and his crew (John and Connie). Connie remains sceptic at first, then is convinced by John to venture into the world, towards the sea, and experience for herself that Earth has indeed become a more or less normal planet again (despite loss of certain fauna and flora, and adaptations of remaining species). Also, as you might suspect, she and John "find" each other, after having opened up to each other (there's no Conservancy or anyone else to keep them in line), probably because their puberty and sexuality suddenly got a big boost due to Earth's living conditions. As Raef finds out about John's and Connie's descent towards Earth, he convinces Evangeline to save them, fearing they won't have enough supplies and will succumb to the toxic conditions on Earth. After having told his story and getting weaker by the day, John and Connie suddenly see Evangeline appear in the sky and decide to head for the ship - since Evangeline has gained full control of herself, having "disabled" her master Tug - and put Raef in one of those Waitsleep wombs for Evangeline to take care of him. Tug still tries to save his skin, to manipulate John and Connie, with the excuse that saving Raef will be disastrous for them all, as Evangeline will not care anymore about anyone, only herself (and Raef, whom she's come to trust and love).
People talk a lot about world building, and Megan Lindholm did an almost perfect job. The science and the systems of her fictional world are crafted just as expertly as the characters.
They all share a rich, historical feel, stories from a time long past. Once again, this was a fantastically detailed world, yet the story is told in such a way that it all springs to life in the telling, no awkward laying of foundation to bring us up to speed. Humans bred and led to believe we must subjugate our wishes for the benefit if the whole, directed by someone who keeps us ignorant of the big picture.
Generations ago, an altruistic alien race, the Arthroplana, rescued humanity from the ecological disaster of earth, and resettled them in a new system, with dire warnings on the necessity of fitting in to the local ecology.
Before getting into the core of the novel, let me tell you how big of a pleasure it was to me to read a whole story that fits into a single book, from beginning to end - something so rare it oughts to be noticed. Far from big space wars, this journey in the galactic emptiness is deeply personal.
John and Connie are mariners, travelling and trading on board a living ship, when they're given a controversial mission: go back to Earth and see if it's all as dead as they authorities claim.
But an intelligent parasite that reads Nero Wolfe and Sherlock Holmes stories and reacts to them as you and I do...no matter how many body segments he has, he is a human being in disguise.
I really want to like this more than I did.