Mike Resnick:Purgatory

When I looked at the author photo on the dust jacket of Purgatory, I was mildly surprised to find out that Mike Resnick is not black.

This is, I think, a compliment. Having read a few of his Kirinyaga stories in Asimov's, and now this book, I find it clear that Resnick has an abiding interest in Africa, at least, and a very good voice for talking about it.

The subtitle proclaims that the book has to do with a distant world. Resnick, in his Foreword, notes that this book is about the alien world of Karimon, certainly not the African nation of Zimbabwe. Methinks he doth protest too much.

The book clearly is about Zimbabwe, and Resnick is indirectly apprising us of this fact. I don't claim to be an expert on the history of Zimbabwe, and I suspect that Resnick might have mixed in some other elements of African history. One section of the book, "Wilcock's Castle", which deals with the discovery of a buried structure, which archaeologists conclude could never have been built by these primitive Karimoni, is obviously about the ruins of Zimbabwe itself.

That said, it's still an engaging story, though I hope anyone who reads it shakes their head, or something stronger, at the actions of most of the humans with regard to Karimon and its inhabitants. "Earthman's Burden" indeed.

It has been often quoted that if we ever meet a primitive alien race, it will suffer the same fate as did the African tribes, or Amerinds. This is the clearest depiction of it I've seen, although that may be because it's based on a real-life example in such detail...

It disturbed me and made me vaguely guilty. And that, I imagine, is what Resnick was aiming for.

%A Resnick, Mike
%T Purgatory: A Chronicle of A Distant World
%I Tor
%C New York
%D March 1993
%G ISBN 0-312-85275-4
%P 320 pp.
%O Hardcover

Click here to go back to Alfvaen's Review Page.

The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com