I read and enjoyed Autonomous – see my review. So when I saw this offering pop up on Netgalley, I immediately requested it and was glad to get a copy.
BLURB: Destry is a top network analyst with the Environmental Rescue Team, an ancient organization devoted to preventing ecosystem collapse. On the planet Sask-E, her mission is to terraform an Earthlike world, with the help of her taciturn moose, Whistle. But then she discovers a city that isn’t supposed to exist, hidden inside a massive volcano. Torn between loyalty to the ERT and the truth of the planet’s history, Destry makes a decision that echoes down the generations.
Centuries later, Destry’s protege, Misha, is building a planetwide transit system when his worldview is turned upside-down by Sulfur, a brilliant engineer from the volcano city. Together, they uncover a dark secret about the real estate company that’s buying up huge swaths of the planet―a secret that could destroy the lives of everyone who isn’t Homo sapiens. Working with a team of robots, naked mole rats, and a very angry cyborg cow, they quietly sow seeds of subversion. But when they’re threatened with violent diaspora, Misha and Sulfur’s very unusual child faces a stark choice: deploy a planet-altering weapon, or watch their people lose everything they’ve built on Sask-E.
REVIEW: In common with many sci fi authors, Newitz is highly critical of the capitalist economic model. It’s a system that Newitz roundly critiques in both Autonomous and The Terraformers. In this far, far future adventure – Ronnie has helped design a pristine planet to resemble Earth before Humanity came along and spoilt it. And now she needs it to make a profit… Of course, she hasn’t got her own hands dirty – carefully designed workers with all sorts of modifications have been the ones toiling away to ensure the planet’s eco-system keeps ticking over as perfectly as possible. Destry is one such worker and in the opening section of the book, is a main protagonist.
I loved the modified, cyborg animals, particularly Moose, who is Destry’s Mount and can carry her anywhere she needs to go, because Moose can also fly. However, he has a limiter on his brain so that he can only speak using single-syllable words. Though at least he can express himself about a wide range of subjects – Blessed models are built with a limiter in their brains so they can only talk about their work, even though they have the intellect to understand and have opinions on so much more.
Essentially, this is a story about a class struggle that spans centuries, set upon a beautiful world that is in the process of being settled with the aim of making the corporation owning the land the maximum amount of money. And although that might sound like a bleak premise, the book isn’t. Newitz has given us a beautiful world which she depicts with great vividness with all sorts of quirky creatures peopling it. Along with dear old Moose, I also rather fell in love with Scrubjay, a flying, talking train. Yep – I know it sounds like a bonkers episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, but I was able to suspend my disbelief sufficiently to get thoroughly caught up in the story. In amongst the anger at the exploitation and inevitable rebellion and bloodshed, there are lovely moments of working together, companionship, love affairs and the sharing of food.
I came away from reading this one with a smile on my face – and a sense that being alive, with friends and family to love and share food with, living on a planet where there is so much beauty, in a body that is my very own – makes me very fortunate. Highly recommended for fans of sci fi colony adventures with a strong environmental message. While I obtained an audiobook arc of The Terraformers from the publisher via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
This sounds wonderful! I’m so curious about Moose and the limiter, which seems cruel. Still, this is a world I’d love to explore. Wonderful review, Sarah!
Oh yes – what happens to Moose and poor Chef is absolutely horrible. But I do like the fact that it ends on an upbeat note – and a lot of sci fi doesn’t.
Well in Meru they are past the capitalist struggle but there are still class issues. I know why I love scifi so much. Thanks for sharing.
You’re very welcome, Anne. Yes – it’s one of my favourite genres for its critique on issues that are scoring our social and political systems without (mostly) getting too preachy about it:)).
This is indeed the kind of SF I enjoy reading – exploration and terraforming are both intriguing subjects and this novel seems to explore them in a very satisfactory way.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
You’re very welcome, Maddalena:)). I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though perhaps I also should have mentioned that there are some big time jumps in the story – which I know Mogsy found spoilt the mood.
If done well, time jumps don’t bother me so I will have to see for myself how the author deals with them…
It didn’t bother me – but I know Mogsy hated them… So I shall be interested to see how you feel about it:).
I’m glad you enjoyed it! I also liked the world-building, but the time jumps kinda killed the vibe for me!
Ah… I’m rather fond of fractured narratives if they’re done well. But I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste.
I was quite harsh reviewing this book, as the negatives outweighed the rest for me, but I love that you could focus on all the positives 🙂
Thank you, Calypte:). It’s one of the things I love most about sharing books online – I often see books from other folks’ viewpoints.
Oooooo, this sounds awesome! Great review!
Thank you – I thoroughly enjoyed this one:).