By: Aaron B.
Written by Barry B. Longyear, this science fiction novella tells the story of an astronaut named Davidge, stranded on a planet with a humanoid alien named Jeriba, his species is known as dracs.
Humans and dracs have been at war for quite a while-each wanting to explore the galaxies and getting in each other’s way-but through this story Davidge and Jeriba must put aside their differences and try and survive the hostile environment.
The opening portion of the book, the two have a bit of a fist fight and reluctantly must accept each other, which seemed like a realistic interpretation of how things would go down. Much like how maybe in real world wars, two soldiers from different ethnic backgrounds might at first hate each other, then learn to get along and fight the enemy.
The middle portion, it is revealed that Jeriba is pregnant with a child (his species reproduces asexually if I remember correctly) At first Davidge doesn’t want to hear this, he just wants to focus on himself-but as the two species talk things over, Davidge begins to see things from the aliens’ point of view. Quite a hopeful section of the story, I only wish more people were this open minded to change and evaluating their opinions.
That’s maybe my favorite aspect to this story, Davidge had to change this lifelong racism-he had to stand up and face the fact he was indeed wrong about the dracs. Humans don’t seem to like to admit they’re wrong-often I feel when arguing, people like to yell and shout “I’m right, you’re wrong!” “My opinion is valid even though it holds no evidence!” If Jeriba and Davidge had gotten along like this to long, the two would have perished.
Jeriba dies and gives birth to a child, and Davidge was indeed going to kill it, but realized he couldn’t. This portion of the story I felt dragged a bit, but I understand why the author couldn’t just rush this section.
It did help in further cementing Davidge’s newfound thoughts.
The ending was quite good. Basically, humans and dracs end up getting on, and they form a society together-which I found quite cool. You had little spouts of hate between the two species, but very minor. I won’t ruin the very end or the little plot threads, but it ends up being extremely touching. So, in all, I loved the beginning and end, but the middle was ‘okay.’ The child subplot I was less interested in, but the way it tied together in the end I liked and therefore, I won’t remove too many points from the middle portion-if the author had rushed it, it wouldn’t have hit as hard.
I love stories of ‘creature sympathy’, and this sort of reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi films ever, “District 9.” I wonder what a modern remake of this would look like? I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t plan to. I sort of liked reading it and imagining the situations for myself, plus the alien design from what I gather from the trailer leaves a lot to be desired-a bit to cheesy.
I really did like this, I didn’t love it like I thought I would, but I liked it enough to want to read the other two in the series.