Copyright 1994 by
I first read this in 1997.
The aliens have arrived and they intend to stay. These "Aleutians" are
masters of the biological arts and instead of machinery they use
biological artifacts living creatures grown from their own flesh.
They view humanity's electronics and computers as ghastly artifacts of
some dead world, and the physical sciences as imaginative delusions.
They certainly have immense difficulty understanding human attitudes and concerns
especially, since they are effectively immortal, our fear of death.
Their arrival years before triggered long-simmering conflicts into wars
across the world. The Earth's flowering civilisation is collapsing in
the economic, political and sexual havoc. Cities are divided into male
and female enclaves, men and women on opposing sides. Some humans
deliberately mutilate themselves and their children to better resemble
the Aleutians, whom they see as saviours.
Sidney Carton is working with the aliens, though his reasons for so
doing are hidden. During an attack on the alien camp, he rescues
Goodlooking, a disabled alien librarian. Together they flee enemy
forces, united only so long as their different objectives coincide.
Meanwhile humans, and some aliens, are desperately searching for the
almost-mythical space drive which was used, one time only, in the attack
on the first alien ship.
This is very good stuff. It's a thoughtful, intense read, and an
effective illumination of how culture constrains understanding and of the
difficulties communicating between different cultures, whether human or
alien. Portentous stuff, desu shou? It's also got alien sex, and sex
with aliens, so you have to read it now.
What's it got? a search for FTL travel, a hint of some scary
biological weaponry, excellent aliens with a very different psychology
and, albeit slightly gender-confused, alien sex.
Loaded on the 28th June 2001.