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A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
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it was amazing

While John Scalzi's Redshirts got a lot of attention (and awards) for satirizing one of Star Trek's most endearing tropes, I have to say I personally prefer A Darkling Sea, which (less directly) sinks its razor sharp teeth into another of that classic show's sacred cows: the Prime Directive.
A Darkling Sea is about human exploration of the planet Ilmatar, with the reluctant permission of the more technologically advanced Sholen. The Sholen insist, as part of the agreement, that the human expedition avoid mixing with the native Ilmatarans at all cost, so as not to "contaminate" the less developed - but not nearly as primitive as first assumed - Ilmataran civilization.
A costly (and grizzly) blunder by a self-serving human explorer throws any hope of that out the window in the first chapter, and increasingly dire and fatal consequences snowball from there. Throughout the story, Cambias keeps a close eye of how the value systems of each race inform the misunderstandings and conflicts that ensue, and manages to satirize, criticize and empathize with each in equal measure. It's a well paced, sharp and funny book, one that concludes that concepts like the Prime Directive, well-intentioned as they might be, are ultimately based on patronizing assumptions about cultural superiority, and serve more of a political purpose than a practical one.
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Reading Progress

November 13, 2014 – Shelved
November 13, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
March 5, 2015 – Started Reading
March 5, 2015 –
page 57
March 6, 2015 –
page 86
March 7, 2015 –
page 113
March 7, 2015 –
page 140
March 7, 2015 –
page 175
March 13, 2015 –
page 226
March 14, 2015 –
page 293
March 16, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Lena (new) - added it

Lena I’ve had a copy of this on my shelf for ages!

Gary Lena wrote: "I’ve had a copy of this on my shelf for ages!"

It's never too late!

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