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Homecoming, by Sue Ann Bowling

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message 1: by Sue (last edited Feb 10, 2011 09:54PM) (new)

Sue Bowling (sueannbowling) | 3 comments Homecoming by Sue Ann Bowling I'll add more later, but Homecoming has just been named a finalist (1 of 3) in the Reader Views 2010 Literary Awards, Science Fiction category.

ForeWord Clarion Review:

Genre: Science Fiction
Author: Sue Ann Bowling
Publisher: iUniverse
ISBN: 9781450213158
Rating: Five Stars (out of Five)

Well-written science fiction expands the imagination. It is a book genre that explores the outer limits of reality, based on the reasoning and endless possibilities of science. Unfortunately, there is too much science fiction on the market today that has left this creative path of exploration, and instead offers readers a constantly rehashed mix of starship battle scenes and evil alien races bent on taking over the universe. Fortunately, in Homecoming, Sue Ann Bowling takes the reader back to the foundations of sci-fi, offering a completely original story, with both fresh ideas and sound science.

Homecoming focuses on three central characters, Lai, Marna, and Snowy. Lai is the only member of his species, the R’il’nains, left in the confederation. His people were once vast and powerful, but they were destroyed by disease. Marna is the last survivor of her planet. She has lived for over two centuries in isolation, maintaining a beacon to warn other life forms away from her home world, where a plague destroyed the entire population. Snowy is a slave. He dances with his best friends, and tries to hide the powers he is not supposed to have as a human.

The stories of these three individuals begin to intersect when Snowy is purchased by Derik, a R’il’naian-human crossbreed called a R’il’noid, who is also Lai’s half brother. When Snowy suddenly falls ill with a disease known as Kharfun, however, Derik realizes that Snowy cannot be entirely human, and only humans can be slaves. While Lai, Marna, and Snowy all have vastly different agendas, they must come together not only to find happiness in their own lives, but to help create a better world for the entire confederation.

Homecoming is a truly compelling book. The author has done a superb job of creating characters that are well rounded and emotionally real. The plot is original and thoughtfully crafted, and the supporting science is fresh and exciting. For instance, when several of the characters find themselves on an unknown planet and must forage for food, the author writes, “Biological processes on any particular planet tended to use and produce a single suite of amino acids, apparently depending on which coiling direction of DNA won out in the earliest stages of evolution on that world. Marna could no more survive on food from a planet where life used amino acids that were mirror images of those in her own body than her right hand would fit smoothly in a left-hand glove.”

The author leaves a great deal unresolved at the end of the book. Though somewhat frustrating, in all likelihood, it is unavoidable with such a complicated plot. In any case, the reader will turn the last page hoping that a sequel is on the way.

Catherine Thureson

I'm posting the Reader Views review last because it contains possible spoilers.

During the last Interglacial humans hybridized with the R'il'nai and spread across the galaxy. Although they formed the Jarnian Confederation, they still depended on the R'il'nai for guidance and protection—not only from the Maungs but from each other.

Now only one of the pureblood R'il'nai still lives—Lai, an embittered survivor who mourns his lost human love but still feels bound to honor his race's responsibility to the Confederation. Two others possess the potential to change his and the Confederation's future—Snowy, a young slave dancer who is frightened of his odd powers, and Marna, a healer who survived a planet-wide epidemic on her home world.

Each has his or her individual loyalties and responsibilities which put them in conflict with one another. But the only way the Confederation--and Humanity--can survive is if they can learn to work together--and if Snowy can accept what he is.

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Reader Views review:
Sue Ann Bowling
iUniverse (2010)
ISBN 9781450213158
Reviewed by Marty Shaw for Reader Views (10/10)

(possible spoilers in review)

Snowy is a young slave who has never known any other life than one of servitude. However, he and his friends have figured out a way that allows them to stay together. They dance so well together that they sell for a higher amount as a group than as individuals. The life of a pleasure slave isn’t a good one, but Snowy and his friends make the best out of a bad arrangement, and Snowy has special gifts that allow him to make things as easy for them as possible. Snowy is able to use these gifts to catch the eye of a R’il’noid named Derik, who buys Snowy and his friends. As for as masters go, Derik really isn’t that bad and Snowy figures that life might not be that bad with him, but then something happens that changes everything. Snowy gets deathly ill from a disease that has little effect on humans. This leads Derik to discover, with the help of his half-brother, Nik, that Snowy isn’t human. Snowy only has a few memories of his mother and no memories at all of his father, so he’s shocked and frightened to learn that Derik’s brother, Lai, is his father.

Snowy is given the name, Roi, and begins the daunting task of learning to live as a free person. The fact that his uncle was formerly his owner is a fact that affects the whole family and causes some understandable tension, especially when Derik’s history of taking slaves as lovers is widely known among others. Another source of tension is Lai, who carries a lot of emotional baggage associated with Roi’s mom and the memory of her departure. He doesn’t know what to do with this child who appeared from nowhere and he fears doing the wrong thing because he feels that he did something wrong in raising his other son, Zhaim, although he can’t actually admit that to himself. Will Roi be a chance at redemption or proof that the madman, Zhaim, truly is the result of Lai’s parenting?

It’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed with “Homecoming” because there are a lot of characters that are tied to one another in some form or another. Fortunately, the author does a good job of keeping things in order so it doesn’t become too confusing. Snowy/Roi is a likable character and that makes him entertaining to read about. I felt his fear as a slave trying desperately to keep his little family together, and I felt that fear slide towards terror when he was introduced to his new life. He’s known some decent R’il’noid slave owners, but the majority of them were twisted and depraved. As a R’il’noid , will this now become his future? His father, Lai, is a good man with a lot of responsibility and a busy schedule. I wasn’t too thrilled with Lai at first. His aloofness made it hard to like him, but the story focuses attention on him towards the middle of the book and I was able to get to know him better and I learned that he was actually a good guy who just desperately needed another perspective in his life to allow him to see some errors in his judgment. Roi’s uncles, Derik and Nik, are both good guys who have the best of intentions for Roi, although Derik’s wild past makes others frequently question his motives. Zhaim is the half-brother that nobody wants to be related to and he causes more than his fair share of heartache and heart in Roi’s life. Ironically, Zhaim’s attitude and constant plotting against Roi provides the fire that allows Roi to fully accept his new station in life. Marna isn’t introduced until halfway through the book, but she is easily one of my favorite characters, second only to Roi. She is the definition of a true woman, elegant and formally polite when the situation calls for it, but a passionate warrior that won’t hesitate to stand her ground when challenged. She’s had centuries of heartache that could have destroyed a lesser spirit, but that history simply makes her stronger and more determined.

While “Homecoming” has an ending that confidently wraps up all the loose ends in this part of Roi’s life, I’m left with the hope that Ms Bowling might one day let us see how Roi is doing as an adult. If you’re looking for a science fiction adventure that has some thought behind it, I highly recommend this story.

Links to other reviews will be given as separate posts.

message 2: by Sue (new)

Sue Bowling (sueannbowling) | 3 comments Update March 1: Homecoming took second place in science fiction.

message 3: by Sue (new)

Sue Bowling (sueannbowling) | 3 comments New review (with major spoilers) at

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