Peter Goodman's Reviews > A Darkling Sea
A Darkling Sea
“A Darkling Sea,” by James L. Cambias (Tom Doherty, 2014). Very nice, with excellent aliens, in fact, two completely different species with completely different understanding of existence. Humans, transported through interstellar space by a species called the Sholen, have a science base on the sea floor of an ice world: ice covers the globe for many kilometers. But there is a deep ocean teeming with life below. The humans are studying a species called the Ilmatarans. The Ilmatarans are essentially intelligent lobsters who live around thermal vents, eat anything they can, including their own young, have detailed and specific land use and ownership customs, and do their own scientific research, recorded by knots on long lines, like the Inca quipu. The Imlaratans have no idea they are being observed. Early on they grab a human in a stealth-technology deepwater suit and innocently dissect him, not knowing that it is an intelligent creature. The Sholen have factions. One wants to continue exploring. The other wants to retreat to the home planet and erase all evidence it ever travelled to other worlds. Very imaginative: the Ilmatarans are blind, and communicate by sound, sophisticated sonar. I have no idea how they reproduce. The Sholen seem to be on the verge of having sex all the time. Anyway, complications ensue, the various species discover each other and go to war, of course, though all ends well (for us). Quick, clever.
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