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Dark Orbit by Carolyn Ives Gilman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites

This was a difficult read, but not in the way I usually mean. The prose is quite readable and flowed well, but the story wrinkled my brain the way the best sci-fi does.

There is a group of people in this book who perceive reality entirely differently from we do. That is: they are blind, which is a condition that exists in our world, but our world is not a world designed for the blind. Someone who is blind in our world is still steeped in the language of the seeing - our visual metaphors, our light-centric infrastructure, our prioritization of optic experience over auditory and tactile.

Diving into the world of some of the characters in this book, a world devoid of light inhabited only by blind people and designed by blind people, was such a jarring experience that I sometimes had to take breaks from reading. I felt so profoundly limited by my visual frame of reference that it was unsettling at times, and I would grow increasingly frustrated with my inability to grasp a non-visual reality. This book gets to the heart of the concept of "differently-abled" in a way that I've never quite grasped before. Five stars just for shifting my thinking on this.

There are also some absolutely fascinating ideas here about identity creation (and how our identities are continually reflected back to us by those around us and thus tainted by their prejudice and preconceptions) that I wish had more time on the page. The discussion of the intersection of science and religion is not quite as successful, but still quite thought-provoking, and manages to side-step both the "empiric rationality über alles" trope and the "philosophers are more fully human than scientists because of their ~*soul*~" trope which is quite a feat. The political intrigue plot was pretty thin, in the end, but that was probably for the best.

Some excellent incidental world-building re: longterm long range scientific travellers, of which our heroine is one, as well as the struggle between corporate and academia-drive power structures. I wouldn't mind seeing this main character exploring a different world in a sequel, but I'm also perfectly happy with where the story concluded.

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Reading Progress

January 4, 2016 – Shelved
January 4, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
March 7, 2016 – Finished Reading
December 20, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites

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