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Remnant Population

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,137 ratings  ·  493 reviews
For forty years, Colony 3245.12 has been Ofelia’s home. On this planet far away in space and time from the world of her youth, she has lived and loved, weathered the death of her husband, raised her one surviving child, lovingly tended her garden, and grown placidly old. And it is here that she fully expects to finish out her days–until the shifting corporate fortunes of t ...more
Paperback, 325 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Del Rey (first published 1996)
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Hannah Greendale
Colony 3245.12 is located on a planet far away from Ofelia’s planet of Terran birth. She’s lived at Colony 3245.12 for forty years where she’s worked the land, buried her husband, and raised her lone surviving child. Now elderly with thinning gray hair, Ofelia longs for solitude, away from the demands of her grown son and of the Sims Bancorp Company, the corporation that dictates how humans cultivate Colony 3245.12. When the Sims Bancorp Company declares the colony is to be abandoned, Ofelia see ...more
mark monday
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-modern
old woman, tired of people, tired of the way people treat her, decides to stay behind when the rest of her fellow colonists are uprooted by their corporate bosses and sent to another planet. old woman, once surrounded by demanding and unloving voices, finds she loves being alone, no more annoying voices bossing her around, the only voices the ones in her head, now she has all the time in the world to garden and do beadwork and just do what she wants to do, alone. finally alone! but it turns out ...more
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remnant Population is the kind of book that made me fall in love with science fiction in the first place. It's thoughtful, has great characterizations, a plausible future, and humans coming to understand aliens. This is the third book I've read by Elizabeth Moon and she's now on my list of favorite authors. She is an amazing storyteller. She is a master at revealing rather than disclosing. She never over-explains and her characters behave exactly like real people would.

I love the Moon uses older
Allison Hurd
What an incredibly sweet, different sort of book! I think this was a really strong experiment, and that it mostly worked better than I anticipated. I'm going to try to do this review without revealing the things that brought me lots of joy, so sorry for the vagueness.

CONTENT WARNING: (just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-Ofelia. Our main character is woman who is set on enjoying her sunset years, which you just
The definition of remnant is a small remaining quantity of something. Synonyms include leftovers, leavings, remainder. No doubt a not so subtle description of the character who chose to stay on a planet after the colony was evacuated. This was a first contact novel with a strange mix of interesting political and cultural dynamics on display, as well as some rather clunky, tropey characterizations with some sledge hammered messaging about valuing the elderly and women and the "other". (view spoil ...more
Robin Marwick
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are not enough novels with awesome old ladies as their protagonists. Speaking as someone who wishes to be an awesome old lady some day, I consider this a gap in the market. At the start of Remnant Population, the members of a failed colony have been ordered to pack up and leave the planet that has become their home. Widowed Ofelia decides the hell with it, she's staying put; her grown son doesn't need her, her daughter-in-law can't stand her (it's mutual), and she's fed up with living her ...more
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody who told me I needed to try one of Elizabeth Moon’s books was right, I really enjoyed this. :) Although the story itself is based on a familiar science fiction trope, it’s one I usually enjoy, and it had some unique elements. It held my attention from beginning to end. Sometimes a certain part of the story would start to feel like it had been going on a bit too long, but then something new would happen to fully recapture my interest again.

The story is told mostly from the perspective o
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a lovely story!

Tired of being told what to do and feeling unimportant 70-something year old Ofelia decides to secretly stay behind when the people of her colony are translocated. Now she has a planet of her own and nobody deciding for her.

The first part is slowly paced. It describes Ofelia’s lonely time in the settlement, her delight in time to herself and her doubts in having acted on a whim of the moment. I love it how Moon draws out the emotional journey of an older woman who for the fir
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I loved this book. Especially the latter half. What an unlikely, but beautiful story of first contact!

(view spoiler)
Timothy Urges
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The elderly protagonist stays behind after her colony is forced off the planet and comes in contact with an intelligent species. Communication and trust are key themes.

An original and well-done soft SF. I can relate to Ofelia and her attitude towards others. Sometimes I just want to be left alone.
I love a first contact story and this is one of the best I've read despite initially appearing to be run of the mill.

Less than a week after reading it for the first time, I read it again. Delightful.


I wrote the following spoilerific comment in a discussion about this book elsewhere on goodreads:

Thoroughly enjoyed this.

Ofelia was relatable in many ways and believable in all the others. I didn't have a problem with side characters being flat. When you're getting a story told predominantly fr
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Remnant Population is a quiet sort of SF book. It’s more along the lines of, say, Ursula Le Guin than Lois McMaster Bujold or David Weber: at least, there’s very little by the way of epic space fights, and much more about people. Mostly just one person, alone. I loved that the protagonist is an old woman; the ending, with the recruitment of old ladies, seemed like a bit of a joke even so, but I liked that this is very much a defence of the worth and importance of the elderly, and particularly el ...more
This is a magnificent book which looks closely at issues of gender, aging, cultural norms, and selfhood.

Powerful in every way, it also has the fun of first contact, tech, colony, and aliens.

A must read particular for the heroine who is not a twenty something and has a an epic journey and her own Happily Ever After made of her own mind and hands.

Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars because I can't recommend this to *everybody* because my mom, silly woman, refuses to read SF, but I think she'd love this if she weren't so stubborn. But Ofelia has taught me to respect her choices.

Rereading for buddy read in the SFF group:
Among other things we're saying, I've commented:

I love the nuances. I mean, it's hardly a spoiler to say that SimsBancorp is an evil corporation... or at least a typical one that doesn't care much about e
Dawn C
I dunno, the whole story irked me. I felt no sympathy for the main character or the aliens, or the other humans. The audio reading was devoid of passion and much like listening to an old woman muttering to herself about knitting.
Lis Carey
May 27, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura (Kyahgirl)
4/5; 4 stars ; A-

Some might find the pacing of this book a bit ponderous but I really enjoyed the slow unfolding of the story. This was one of those old fashioned style sci-fi books where the human race and humanity are put under a microscope wielded by a human who has broken out of the mold, and an interesting gang of aliens.

Vanessa Hart did a great job as the narrator. I really take my hat off to her for interpreting the sounds and words of the aliens in a believable and even comprehensible m
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve wanted to read Remnant Population for a long time, but I only knew that it would be about an old woman on a far away planet. So, I really did not expect what I would get and that it would move me so much!

Ofelia is an old woman who has lived her life by sacrificing herself to others – the husband, the children, the colony. She was not allowed an education, although she was smart (this reminded me very much of my own grandmother). So, she’s hardworking, but also a bit grumpy and insecure, b
Alex Bright
If this story had been told predominantly from the point of view of the People (the indigenes) I would have given this a much higher rating. I enjoyed learning about them, their culture, and especially their use of music and rhythm in communication. Unfortunately, they don't show up until about a third of the way through.

Instead, we get the day-to-day life of Ofelia, a misanthropic 70+ year old woman who chooses to stay alone in an abandoned colony. A lot of it is incredibly boring, detailed de
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 to 4.5 stars. One of the best books I've read so far this year :) And it's not even a romance, which is normally my fav genre. LOL.

This book has been around for a few years, but I only discovered it recently. It's compelling, and I couldn't stop reading - I read it in just a couple of days. If you like sci-fi, I highly recommend this gem.

It's a first contact story, a tried and true trope, one of my fav sci-fi tropes in fact. But it's also a highly original book. For starters, the MC is an elde
I really could have gone without reading this. The premise sounded intriguing - elderly woman as protagonist who chooses to step out of the collective in favour of her individuality, and who then finds herself in the position of first contact - but the execution was mostly flat which is a real shame.
We’re dropped into the colony with no real backstory which is fine if the character study and plot can handle being the sole focus of the novel, but it can’t, not after the first quarter of the book
Megan Baxter
I suppose it might not be the biggest draw in the world to have a cover that showed an old woman mostly nude, wearing only a few things she'd made herself, completely unconcerned about covering anything in particular or anything more than being comfortable and wearing things that she enjoys. But did they have to go with such stereotypical ragged old woman clothes? It's such a big part of the book, the time Ofelia has to herself to figure out who she is without society breathing down her neck, an ...more
Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gwen by: Amber
This book reminds me a lot of the Martian. Alone on an alien planet; the first half is extreeemely slow paced, only to pick up about half way through with (finally) the introduction of more characters. Just change out the Matt Damon character for a little old lady who hates wearing clothes and that's Remnant Population! Ok, that's an oversimplification, but, in all seriousness, this was a unique read, with a unique main character that popular fiction doesn't allow to play the lead very often. I ...more
Dec 23, 2019 marked it as dnf
DNFing this - disliked the protagonist from the start and my TBR is already so full. Probably great, just not for me right now.
This was a sweet book and I'm glad I gave it a chance, because I /really/ didn't like the Deed of Paksenarrion. It hovers somewhere between 3-4 stars for me, but I rounded it up because it's the holidays.

The main character was interesting and I loved having an older protagonist. I thought more could have been fleshed out with the other characters, but overall enjoyed it and the (view spoiler)
Olga Godim
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
What a charming book. Its heroine is rare in fiction – a 70+ peasant woman Ofelia. Such a protagonist is even rarer in science fiction. Actually, I think she is unique in the genre. In all my reading, I’ve never heard of another old woman who would make a science fiction protagonist. Fantasy – yes, but science fiction – I don’t think so.
Ofelia doesn’t have any education. She has been living in an agrarian colony on an otherwise uninhabited planet for over 40 years, raising her children, working
Oleksandr Zholud
This SF novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1997. This is an unusual first contact story. This is my first read of Elizabeth Moon and I’m impressed even if I don’t always agree with the author. This book reminded me of Ursula K. Le Guin SF novels.

This is a story of old woman, Ofelia Falfurrias, who is nearly 80 years old when the book starts. She lived almost her whole life in the company’s colony (of course the company is an evil exploiter of colonists even if I cannot see
Julie H.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had a tough time getting into this book--really tough--but once we finally met the indigenous population of the planet (N.B.: humans are the aliens, here), things got really interesting. The main character is a 70-something woman named Ofelia, who declines to leave with the mining company settlers when they abandon the planet for greener pastures elsewhere. (The fact that she feels the company will likely tamper with her cryo unit so that she "accidentally" dies in transport speaks to the fact ...more
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I must tell you about one of my very best dearest friend, sorry book. Meet Ofelia, she is a mature woman past childbearing who never got a chance to make something of herself. The scene is the one town on a company owned colony planet. She lives with her obnoxious son Barto and his wife Rosara in town when we learn that the company lost the franchise to the planet. All colonists have to leave.

Ofelia has had enough and decides to stay when the others leave. I love to listen to Ofelia’s thoughts a
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, sci-fi
I found this story captivating. I loved 75 year old Ofelia who chooses to hide out while her colony planet is vacating so that she can be alone to do what she pleases. The family she has takes her for granted and opposes their will on her and she revels in the freedom once she's all alone..... but SHE'S NOT ALONE AFTER ALL. I don't want to spoil but Ofelia goes on a splendid journey of self discovery and gaining self worth. Finding more purpose with the aliens than she ever did with her fellow c ...more
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Elizabeth Moon was born March 7, 1945, and grew up in McAllen, Texas, graduating from McAllen High School in 1963. She has a B.A. in History from Rice University (1968) and another in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin (1975) with graduate work in Biology at the University of Texas, San Antonio.

She served in the USMC from 1968 to 1971, first at MCB Quantico and then at HQMC. She marrie

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