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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Braided World

Copyright 2003 by Kay Kenyon

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (2/5)

I first read this on the 27th March 2003.

In Key Kenyon's previous novel, "Maximum Ice", we read of the passage of dark matter through our region of space. and how this absorbed information and indeed life as it passed through the Earth, leaving damaged, corrupted computers and a wrecked ecology, humans decimated by new virulent infections.

This new novel continues from this time. An alien signal is received directing humans to a far-off world "to find what they have lost". Disregarded by the world governments only a single, privately-financed ship, the Restoration, will attempt the trip.

During the three-year voyage the captain dies and many of the crew sicken with virii brought unknowingly from Earth. When the weakened crew arrive at the planet Neshar they find an surprising puzzle. There is a human culture, at least there are people very close to human, yet this cannot be the culture that constructed the satellites that orbit the planet, the satellites that sent the mysterious message across space to the Earth.

Four of the crew move down to the planet. These are Bailey Shaw, the seventy-eight-year-old owner of the expedition; Zhen the biologist and Bailey's most senior staff Anton Prados and Nick Venning. They are attempting to establish relationships with the local culture in order to identify the source of the messages. However, this is proving more difficult and more slow than expected, since the natives are (i) completely unaware of the existence of the message and (ii) rather more concerned with their own affairs. However, the Earth humans and their disturbing customs eventually disrupt local politics. Let's hope Bailey and her crew can survive war that ensues.

Meanwhile, the remaining crew of ship orbit the world continue to sicken and die as their bodies weakened by the ravages of the dark matter and cosmic radiation succumb to virulent infections.

Surprisingly good and much better than, and quite different from, "Maximum Ice". Ms Kenyon has spent more effort on this book, there are some good characters: Maypong and Gilar were impressive, and even Anton, mired in his provincial puritanism. became more than one might have expected. The plot was carefully constructed plot with none of the ludicrous coincidences of "Maximum Ice'. The only particularly irritating points for me were:

  • the civilised world seemed remarkably small, except for some vague Vol empire some way off.
  • second point was this ridiculously vague pri that the characters rambled on about at times.

The physical differences between the humans and the Dassa were interesting, not just the unusual birth method, but also the skin sensitivity. The culture that resulted from this was well conceived and remarkably interesting. Indeed two elements were provocative: the requirements of courteous behaviour and the enslavement of the Hoda.

What's it got? a mystery and a thriller set in a strange new world. Plus alien sex, full on and apparently very satisfying for the participants but as it turns out, not as good as good old human humping. Oh, and incest (as it were), almost forgot that, and some uptight humans who indulge in remarkably little sex bearing in mind the local conventions.

Loaded on the 1st June 2003.
Cover of The Braided World
Cover by Paul Youll

Reviews of other work by Kay Kenyon
The Seeds Of Time
Tropic Of Creation
Maximum Ice

Other reviews with covers by Paul Youll