Mission Child Paperback – 2 Dec 1999
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
With her third SF novel, Maureen F. McHugh continues the dense plausibility and warmly human characterisation that she achieved in China Mountain Zhang and Half the Day is Night. Human settlements on the colony planet Koziko are carefully restricted to appropriate technology for their region. Thus tough heroine Janna grows up in a "Mission" village in frozen northern territory, whose most high-tech product is whisky to be traded with clans of wild, gun-toting herders.
When tragedy strikes and the Mission is wiped out, a village elder gives Janna some advanced biotech implants which are both blessing and curse--summoning airborne help that thanks to the non-interference policy is no help, keeping her alive when she wants to die, and doing something worse that emerges only years after. Janna finds uneasy security in posing as male while wandering the world as refugee, translator, factory worker, fugitive, security guard, gardener and paramedic, forever torn between the mystic, shamanic tradition of her upbringing and the double-edged benefits of off-world technology. Each port of call has the lived-in feel of a real, working community. Janna isn't out to save the world, just to find a home and come to terms with herself; McHugh skilfully makes this modest quest seem as important as any galactic war. Fine, understated SF. --David Langford
With her third SF novel, Maureen F. McHugh continues the dense plausibility and warmly human characterisation that she achieved in China Mountain Zhang and Half the Day is Night. Human settlements on the colony planet Koziko are carefully restricted to appropriate technology for their region. Thus tough heroine Janna grows up in a "Mission" village in frozen northern territory, whose most high-tech product is whisky to be traded with clans of wild, gun-toting herders. (When tragedy strikes and the Mission is wiped out, a village elder gives Janna some advanced biotech implants which are both blessing and curse--summoning airborne help that thanks to the non-interference policy is no help, keeping her alive when she want)
Customers also shopped for
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I was hooked from the third sentence on the first page, and in fact had to reread the opening after the first page because I was sucked in so quickly. Oh, If only I had McHugh's skill - !
Don't miss this one.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Janna is a teenager on a snowy colony world, growing up on an "appropriate technology mission," where offworld technology is carefully restricted as not to threaten the natural economic development of the world. Yet as all good intentions, the half-hearted involvement of the offworlders only brings the worst of modern griefs to the natives - weapons, war, displacement, plague, without any of the modern benefits. Janna is caught in the middle of all that, from bandit raids, to war, to starvation during a long flight through the snow, to refugee camps. Through it all, her identity slowly matures, from a young naive girl into.. not quite a woman.
The ending felt rather abrupt, although not quite as jarring as in "Nekropolis," and not unsatisfying. The novel just ends, rather than wraps up, but the decisions Janna makes in the end show how far she's come. I recommend this book to those who are willing to give up some thrills & excitement in return for fine prose and simply a quality literary work. Personally, I liked it a lot and wish I'd read it sooner.
Mission Child tells the futuristic odyssey of Janna, a young woman who undergoes many changes in her search for a role in life. From her begining as a child of the Hamra Mission, a low-tech culture on a world long-ago colonized by Earth, Janna sets forth on a journey across the planet when her clan is murdered by invaders. It is the first time Janna must come to grips with death, but certainly not the last.
As Janna travels from city to city, we see the colonization of the planet through her eyes. She encounters several different cultures, all vaguely familiar to the reader, yet altered by their adaptation to their new world. McHugh does an incredible job of presenting these cultures through Janna's eyes in a believeable way. McHugh's grasp of the narrative is amazing.
I rank this book up there with SF classics like Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Definitely a must-read book.
The problem is that the entire book is little more than a description of life on a planet without a lot of native technology. The story, such as it is, is told in the first person from the perspective of Janna, a woman who is not really prone to introspection and has a tendancy to flee anyplace that might give her more insight into her own nature.
Near the end of the book, Jaana starts to make a kind of connection to the wold around her, but she never really does. The book ends with the same kind of "when's the sequel coming?" ending as China Mountain Zhang, but unlike that oustanding book, I can't see any evidence that a sequel would have much more of interest to say.
Reading this book reminded me in some ways of reading the first book in the Thomas Covenant series. The main character was an idiot at the start, and made it through the whole book without quite ceasing to be an idiot. Unlike Lord Foul's Bane, however, Mission Child doesn't have a lot of cool secondary characters that make it worth reading.
In short, the plot is relevant only as an opportunity for character development, but the main character steadfastly refuses to change. As a result, the book is weak both on plot and on character development. The reason it gets two stars from me is that McHugh has created an excellent backdrop for a character who has some interesting attributes. I only wish there had been some coherent plot to the whole thing, or some real development of the main character.