Sunday, July 27, 2008

“Marseguro” by Edward Willett

Marseguro, a water world far distant to Earth, is home to a small colony of unmodified humans known as landlings and to the Selkies, a water-dwelling race created by geneticist Victor Hansen from modified human DNA. For seventy years the Selkies and the unmodified landlings have dwelled together in peace, safe from pursuit by the current theocratic rulers of Earth—a group intent on maintaining human genetic and religious purity.

Then landling Chris Keating, a misfit on any world, seeks personal revenge on Emily Wood and her fellow Selkies by activating a distress beacon taken from the remains of the original colony ship. When the Earth forces capture the signal and pinpoint its origin, a strike force, with Victor Hansen’s own grandson Richard aboard, is sent to eradicate this abomination.

Yet Marseguro will not prove as easy to conquer as the Earth force anticipates. And what Richard Hansen discovers here may alter not only his own destiny but that of Marseguro and Earth as well...
Marseguro is very much a traditional science fiction space adventure with all that that entails – alien planets, genetics, advanced technology, conflict and a mix of interesting characters. Marseguro or “mars seguro” as we learn later in the book is Portuguese for “safe sea”, the planet intended to be a haven for the genetically modified humans created by Victor Hansen.

Mankind has spread to the stars, partially abandoning the planet to preserve humanity thinking that Earth will be destroyed by a huge asteroid. During this impending event a religious zealot dealing in genetic purity called The Avatar of God uses his political savvy to take advantage of the situation and ruthlessly assumes power and control of all planetary governments. The disaster is averted, another occurrence that is leveraged by the Avatars organization as an example of the will of God that they humanity’s intended saviours. Now several generations later the Avatars forces are pacifying the various star colonies and bringing them under Avatar rule all except for the secret location of Hansen’s Selkie world.

Power–hungry disciples of the Avatar discover the location and a mission is launched to eradicate the Selkie’s and bring the human colonists under the yolk of the Body Purified. We get to see all sides of the conflict through the alternating viewpoints of characters from each faction, Emily Wood a young Selkie, seeking to defend her way of life and avenge the harm done to her family, Richard Hansen the conflicted clone of Victor Hansen, Cheveldioff, the Archdeacon master manipulator leading the Avatars forces, and Chris Keating the native Marseguroite traitor to his people.

Taut well visualized action sequences abound and the main story is drawn to a satisfying conclusion but leaves the door open for next years’ sequel Terra Insegura. Readers of series such as Julie Czerneda’s Species Imperative should enjoy this intelligent SF adventure.

Read the first two chapters on his website.

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