Robert Reed: The Remarkables

I haven't read much of Robert Reed before, so I had little idea what to expect from him. In fact, all I've read is his Writer of the Future Contest-winning story, which he published as "Robert Touzalin", and it didn't stay with me very well.

This is a good book, but it may not be to everybody's tastes. It's very slow-moving and low-key, and it ends in an odd place. It's interesting, though.

Mankind has only found one other planet, out of billions terraformed and inhabited in the galaxy, with a complex ecosystem like Earth's, and intelligent life. That planet was named Pitcairn, after the ship that stranded early colonists there years earlier, and the lifeforms were called Remarkables. The Remarkables, being sessile, had developed a symbiotic relationship with another race of beings; several groves of them adopted humans instead, and thus allowed the colonists to survive, although they're no longer very human in their behaviour.

A man named Goottich organizes a group of companions, all, including himself, professional terraformers. They have gotten permission to follow a passion, a ritual journey of juvenile(and still mobile)Remarkables before they root for life, accompanied by guardian Pitcairns.

The bulk of the book is concerned with the passion, and they trudge and boat through vast tracts of alien terrain that would no doubt make fabulous scenery in a movie version. The only interesting things going on are the interactions among the terraformers, between them and the Pitcairns, and the Remarkables. Oh, yes, Goottich has a secret agenda which sparks a mutiny among the Pitcairns.

To his credit, Reed managed to make this interesting indeed. The terraformers are a mixed bunch--the narrator, Ranier, has a bizarre disease which allows him to feel the pain of others; Bedford is a member of a religion that believes humans have a God-given right to populate the universe; Effie is Bedford's wife, somewhat suppressed by him; Pachel is a bureaucrat who really didn't want to come at all; and Lumiere is a man who was born on Old Earth and has lived far too long.

If you like books that involve more character development than action, this is the book for you. If not, you'll get bored halfway through and go read something more interesting.

%A Reed, Robert
%T The Remarkables
%I Bantam Spectra
%C New York
%D March 1992
%G ISBN 0-553-29362-1
%P 344 pp.
%O Paperback, US$4.99, Can$5.99

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