Proteus In The Underworld
Copyright 1995 by
I first read this in 1999 and most recently on the 4th September 2006
The future is a very different place from now. It has been discovered
that, with suitable concentration and in the appropriate environment, humans
may consciously alter the shape of their physical bodies. This doesn't apply
only to outward appearance - future humans can reform themselves at a cellular
level to make dramatic physical changes.
Humans have taken on many forms. We are now able to live in many of the
wildly-varied environments of the Solar system. There are humans with grossly
enlarged bodies to support gigantic brains. There are cyborgs
continually melding more machinery with their bodies.
What can be conceived, can be tried.
In fact form control has become so central to human life that it is used
as the sole determiner of humanity: the ability to express purposive
form change shows us to be human. All humans are tested and those that
fail the test are deemed subhuman and are culled.
Sondra Dearborn works for the Government in the Office of Form Control,
She's got a problem. A child has passed the Form Control test and is
therefore classed as human. This child however is a malevolent and
deadly subhuman that should have failed testing, should have been
automatically euthanized. So what's going on? How could the test have failed?
If the test is no longer reliable, then God alone knows what sort of monsters
have been unleashed.
Sondra will need to help to solve this problem, and to avoid getting killed
while doing so. She'll have to recruit Behrooz Wolf, the legendary former
Head of Form Control. She'll also need Robert Capman who is now living in
the godlike Loglan form. Finally she'll need Aybee Smith, genius physicist.
She'll have to go up against Trudy Melford, the most powerful woman in the Solar
system, Ms Melford is the boss of the biggest company the
Earth has ever seen and is unlikely to treat Sondra gently.
This is an exciting mystery for the young adult reader. It's a common but
worthy theme - what makes us human? I enjoyed parts of it,
and I think this shape-changing idea is brilliant, but overall it didn't
enthral me, and doesn't leave me with the sense of wonder that his earlier
novel Between The Strokes Of Night achieved.
Loaded on the 25th January 2007.