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Shivering World by Kathy Tyers
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasysci-fi
Recommended for: Fans of Sci-Fi, genetic engineering, terraforming, and the ethics involved
Read in January, 1997

To be honest, the five star rating is for the original version of the book-- the rewrite for the Christian market was still good, but as I've commented on her Firebird series, the prose is somehow changed with the rewrite. I had read the general market version first, which was on the preliminary list for the Nebula Awards or something like that. Beautiful hard science fiction, yet with a strong focus on characters and a lot of gene-tech and biological science (in other words, not just nuts'n'bolts), and as early as 1991 (I don't think that side of sci-fi had caught on all that much at that time-- but maybe I just hadn't read enough from the 80s). But as soon as I read the first paragraph in the new version I knew something was wrong. I don't know exactly how to explain it-- maybe if I went over the syntax and word choice in more detail (it's been a few years since I've looked at it) I would be able to characterize the changes, but the first version feels like it speaks the "language" of sci-fi (in terms of prose stylistics, I suppose), while the second feels like it speaks the language of contemporary Christian fiction-- which maybe isn't so weird, because I remember Kathy saying that she wanted to branch out into more contempory romance (it might have been prarie romance), but it was disappointing for me, and was also a really interesting moment-- before I hadn't really been aware of how important the subtleties of the prose are. And of course, I'm all for an original style and voice, but in this case I prefered the first version.
All that aside-- this is a great book, and certainly worth a Nebula award. Lots of interesting issues with the "Other", only in this case the Other is humanity's children, illegally genetically engineered humans-- and there is also the planetary Other, which is also being engineered (terraformed), and then there is the Mother-Daughter relationship at the heart of the book which all these instances of "Otherness", ownership and control are interwoven with. The whole mother-daughter issue comes up in nearly all Tyers' work (maybe all, if we expand it to parent-child), something I'd love to write about some day (along with the issue of the Other)-- not to turn it into an analysis of Kathy Tyers herself, of course, but it certainly seems to be a rich strand in her work.

I've mentioned this book several times on my blog. Will probably write a more thorough discussion one of these days, but for now here are the links:
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