Friday, June 24, 2016

Playing God

One year for Christmas, my mother gave me a stack of books. When stacked, it was about 2 feet tall and was one of the most exciting things I had received up to that time in my life. Over 10 years later and I am still working my way through that stack. Granted, other books caught my eye and with 2 feet of words always there waiting for me, I felt like I could read other things in the interim. This year, I have decided to make an effort to finally read those books.

The first on the docket was Playing God by Sarah Zettel. The story takes place in a future where us humans have destroyed our earth and have rebuilt it. The population was fractured and most people live in city states run as corporations. Some of these are on the rebuilt earth, others are on other planets and moons, and more are located on space stations. One of these corporations, Bioverse, was contacted by an alien planet to rebuild their world destroyed by war. One of the main protagonists, Lynn, is recruited by Bioverse to help with the rebuild and she has knowledge of the indigenous people and has a specialty in rebuilding ecosystems.

Enter the planet of the Dedelphi. The dedelphi are a matriarchal tribal society. Babies are born in sets, like puppy litters, and they are always born female. The sisters live together and raise their children together. As when they reach a certain point, their body goes through something like menopause, and they change from female to male. The males are pretty mindless and their contributions to society are procreation and a bargaining tool to secure alliances.

The Dedelphi have been warring between each other for centuries, if not millennia. At one point, a tribe had developed a biological weapon and released it during a war. The weapon turned into a plague that ravaged all of the Dedelphi and was the catalyst for them requesting outside help to rebuild their world.

I had tried to start this book a couple of times and always put it down. My preferred genre is fantasy, so sci-fi has less of a draw. One Saturday I took an hour and really gave it a chance, this book did draw me in with its characters and intrigue. The author did a good job of world building, but I feel like a key regarding the titles associated with the Dedelphi social structure would have been helpful. At one point some critical knowledge is discovered by a character, but the significance of it was missed by me because I did not know the titles and social structure of the Dedelphi society. The novel has some social commentary, like all good sci-fi, and might hit a little too close to home for some in the current political and cultural state the United States is in. If you like political intrigue, scheming, and war without the rape and 5+ book commitment of Game of Thones, give this book a try.

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