David Brin is the acclaimed Hugo & Nebula award winning author of 10 novels and 2 collections of short stories. He has a doctorate in Astrophysics , and has been a consultant to NASA and a graduate - level physics professor.
As a ``var,'' or uncloned female, Maia faces a life on the fringe of the stratified, female clone-based society of Stratos unless she can earn the right to found a dynasty of clones or find some way to change the static world in which she lives. Brin's canny sensitivity about the complexities of human nature transcends gender barriers in a novel that is not so much about ``women's issues'' as the necessity for change and variability. As in Earth ( LJ 4/15/90), the author demonstrates his ability to empathize with all his characters. This complex and gripping tale belongs in most libraries.
Moving into territory heretofore eschewed by male SF writers, Brin ( Earth ) here presents a world settled by radical feminist separatists, where through genetic engineering most reproduction occurs parthenogenetically, yielding clones of the mothers. On Stratos, skill-specialized clone clans dominate society. Genetic engineering could not entirely eliminate the male role, however, and Stratos's founders were aware of the value of ``variant,'' or sexually reproduced, offspring to generate new combinations of genes, skills and attributes. The heroine, Maia, is such a ``var,'' and the novel traces her traditional banishment (with her twin, Leie) from the clan to seek out her own niche (vars dream of being successful enough to found their own clone clan). Maia's plans soon fall apart; separated from her sister and believing her dead, she runs afoul of smugglers and ends up allied with the strange male Visitor, an emissary from the vast Human Phylum of worlds, whose arrival has triggered political struggles all over Stratos. Should they renew communication with the other human worlds, or would that contaminate their social and biological experiment? Brin's handling of this material is cool and rational. While he criticizes some of the weaknesses of Stratos life, he also makes as good a case for its viability and benefits as might any feminist. An inconclusive ending and some slow pacing mar this otherwise provocative and intriguing new perspective on gender issues. (May)
'Provocative and intriguing' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY'David Brin's intelligent and exuberant novels have quickly made him a firm favourite of science fiction fans' THE GUARDIAN'Remarkably successful' INTERZONE