The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz

Review by Nadya Mercik

“Everything in balance,” says the Environmental Rescue Team Handbook.

The question is – whose balance is it on?

As Annalee Newitz writes in the Acknowledgements, this novel was created as a dream of a more hopeful world and a nation-building epic. It is definitely both and so much more. In three hundred-something pages, it encapsulates about sixteen hundred years of history plus fifty-nine thousand years of backstory and a lot of important and controversial topics. It feels so epic that I find it a bit difficult to know where to start with the review.

Let’s start with the world. In the 59th millennium, humanity is much more than one planet or even one Solar System. It has spread to the far corners of the galaxy in search of planets to be terraformed, sometimes as private ones. In fact, Earth itself is not even the source of the genetic material anymore: genome samples come from libraries on Venus. Humanity is also much more than Homo sapiens. Even if you are decanted as one, you still get modifications, like cellular scrubbers, which help you to stay alive for hundreds of years. Homo diversus may have tentacles, skin of an interesting colour or even be a mixture of biological and metal parts. And you don’t need to be a hominin to be human. Cats, moose, rats, bots are sentient too. No aliens; everybody is coming from the Earth’s protoworld’s genome. People differ not only in their shape but in their sentiency too. As no one is born and everyone is decanted, there is an opportunity to install a sentience limiter. For example, as a simple mount, you are capable of speaking only monosyllabically; if you are a Blessed, no conversation is possible if it is not about your job.

Who thrives in such an environment? Unlike Star Trek with its Federation, this future is very much about capitalism, privatisation and corporations. There is the League for public governments, but so many planets are private and the lands on it terraformed to be sold.

Continue reading at: The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz – The British Fantasy Society

Source: The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz – The British Fantasy Society

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