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I loved this book. Kate Wilhelm writes a very readable book and Anna Fields (aka Kate Fleming, recently deceased and a great loss to audio) does a great job narrating. Considering the story won a Hugo back in the mid-70s, the theme (human caused environmental disaster and cloning) is current and relevant. If you're looking for a good story to get lost in for a few hours and you like sci fi, this book is worth your time.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
It's a testament to the strength of Kate Wilhelm's grasp of "hard" science and the subtlety of her grasp of human nature that this 1977 science fiction novel (winner of the Hugo Award) is as relevant today as when she wrote it. It easily could have been published yesterday.
The novel follows an extended family as they retreat from society to survive a global meltdown (economic, environmental, topped off by a nuclear holocaust). Led by far-sighted leaders and gifted scientists, they seek to preserve their line through an extended experiment in cloning. The result is more Village of the Damned than Paradise, as a new "breed" of people -- intelligent but unimaginative, forming brother and sister groups that share a common mind and experience -- inherit (or take over?) the community. The story follows several generations, ending with the struggle of the lone individual against the dystopian community, with the stakes being both the survival and the very nature of the human species.
The premise of this novel and its execution are fascinating, and I was most interested to see how the generational struggles would resolve themselves. For some reason I can't quite pin down, I never felt fully emotionally engaged with most of the characters, and the one who evoked my empathy most had a truncated role in the novel. In other words, this novel always had my mind, but it never quite captured my heart completely, as well. Despite being held somewhat at arm's length from the characters (which may indeed be intentional, given the nature of the characters themselves), I highly recommend it, and I'm glad I read it. It's considered a classic for good reason, and I'm richer for having encountered it.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful