Orson Scott Card, best-selling author of Ender’s Game, teams up with Kathryn H. Kidd to launch an epic science fiction saga of space exploration - and a dramatic conflict between human and nonhuman intelligence.
On the Ark, a colonyship bound outward across the stars, not everyone is a volunteer - or even human. Lovelock is a capuchin monkey engineered from conception to be the perfect servant: intelligent, agile, and devoted to his owner. He is a "witness", privileged to spend his days and nights recording the life of one of Earth’s most brilliant scientists via digital devices implanted behind his eyes.
But Lovelock is something special among witnesses. He’s a little smarter than most humans: smart enough to break through some of his conditioning, smart enough to feel the bonds of slavery - and want freedom.
Set against the awesome scope of interstellar space, and like Speaker for the Dead and Xenocidebefore it, Lovelock probes the provocative interface between humanity and another sentient species.
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2.6 dimensional, but good
Angst, angst and more angst
Lovelock's computer skills
All of them
This novel is not science fiction. It is a soap opera containing some of the worst characterization, moral pandering and emotional manipulation I have read - all set in a barebones science fiction theme.
The setting is an "ark" preparing to disembark to colonize a nearby planet. Sad to say, the ship has still not departed by the end of the book and the entire story is about interpersonal reactions between the Members of the Ark. The "crew" consists of characters that would never be allowed within one thousand miles of such an enterprise because they are the most diverse collection of neurotic, anti-social, and dysfunctional characters known to Mankind. Rather than a lone maladjusted person inside a generally "normal" society, this crew can't field a single well adjusted human being in the entire cast.
Don't believe me? We have a super intelligent "enhanced" Capuchin monkey who interacts with: an emotionally unavailable scientist protagonist with little or no maternal instincts towards her two children; her "therapist" husband who discovers he has homosexual tendencies mid way through the book; a pedophile; a sadistic and extremely manipulative mother-in-law married to a Walter Mitty look alike; marital affairs galore and a bevy of manipulative beehive hairdo gossip mongers that include the leader of the "village." Mind you, other than the scientist, not one of these individuals seems to have any valid expertise other than socially related skills such as rudimentary psychology, child care, political, funeral services, etc. - with the possible exception of two quasi computer trained sysop cops that enjoy a paragraph or two before being abandoned.
The story line is mostly a mash of anthropomorphic anti-slavery themes coupled with interpersonal backbiting and squabbling that is an unending cacophony of angst, subjective vitriol and anti-authoritarianism. Several areas of the book start themes that go nowhere-for example, the protagonist makes love with her husband in order to save her marriage by having another child and....what? Don't know because the story never says she gets pregnant or is unsuccessful. In the meantime, her marriage collapses when her husband finds love with another man and the book ends.
The only science fiction element- aside from its story housing - is the concept that you could actually pack enough intelligence and computational power in a Capuchin monkey that it could act as a highly sapient philosopher and computer scientist - particularly when you consider it has a brain pan barely large enough to hold a whiffle ball.
- Michael B. Coleman