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A good attempt at potraying the alien,
This review is from: The Disestablishment of Paradise (Kindle Edition)
This is this author's first novel in about fifteen years. His very first novel, Eye of the Queen, back in 1982, was notable for its detailing of the emotional side of alien contact, with a race of telepaths. Later novels like Wulfs Yarn and the Paxwax novels also dealt with complex human/alien relationships. Pioneers was a very dark novel indeed, in which humanity becomes alien to itself.
It is fitting perhaps that this novel most resembles his first, as though the author wants one more try at his core alien theme. The planet Paradise is indeed a paradise, extremely Earth-like, but with two moons that complicate tides. There are strangely no fauna, but the flora has evolved into a variety of forms, Dendrons, Tattershall Weeds, Reapers and more, some of which possess limited mobility, and the capacity to hurt and possibly kill humans. Paradise has been colonised, most of the hostile native fauna has been erased but strangely Earth plants never really take take to growing there. This leads to its 'disestablishment' that is, its closure as a destination in the inter-planetary 'fractal' gateway system and the withdrawal of its settlers, mostly farmers, and the scientific exploration teams.
This is were we meet Dr Hera Melhuish who is head of the science mission, and the principle character. She stays behind when everyone has left, to shut things down. But things go wrong and she is rescued by Mack, one of her technicians. Their developing romance seems to be both a cause of, and product of, the flora of Paradise re-asserting its dominion. One memorable image is of settler's graves being pushed out of the ground as the native flora, some considered extinct, re-appear and re-assert their dominance.
There are two flaws that I see in this novel. One is that there is too much of it. There are unnecessary fake 'documents' on top of a very slow progress of the plot. The other is a complete lack of any scientific rational for the flora-only biosphere. What we have here is more like fantasy: the return to normality after the 'Dark Lord' is defeated by virtue. Yet this is a wonderfully imaginative novel and for once the strange picture of an alien environment on the cover is evocative rather than just ornamental. It could make an intriguing film if the special effects were good enough and the content focused on the biosphere re-awakening.