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From Publishers Weekly
Like its predecessor, A Door into Ocean , this thoughtful, well-crafted novel is set on the ocean world of Shora. Shora's original settlers, the Sharers, are peace-loving women who live in close harmony with nature. They now share their world with the 12 floating cities of Elysium, a society of nearly ageless humans who live surrounded by wealth and advanced technology. The Windclans, a family hailing from a pastoral, underpopulated world where children are highly prized and women revered, come to work in one Elysian city. But as they try to adapt to the Elysians' unfamiliar ways, family members find themselves caught up in the political intrigues among the Elysians, the Sharers and their friends and enemies on neighboring planets--culminating in a confrontation with a potentially lethal adversary from within Elysium itself. Slonczewski's settings and alien cultures are rich and detailed, her characters memorable and often extremely endearing. Even against such an intricate plot and exotic backgrounds, her depictions of relationships, especially family life, are touchingly real.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A fistful of cultural conflicts centered on the ocean-covered planet Shora, where a thousand years have passed since the actions described in Slonczewski's hardcover debut novel, A Door Into Ocean (1986). Sharing Shora with the raft-dwelling, all-female, genetic-whiz Sharers are the floating cities of Elysium; the Elysians, immortal but sterile, are the leading bankers of the scattered human colonies of the Fold. Hearing disquieting reports of nuclear missiles on Urulan, a planet of warlike barbarians, the Elysians have invited translator Raincloud of the volcanic planet Bronze Sky to visit the Elysian city Helicon, to research Urulan goings-on; Raincloud's doctor husband, Blackbear, will help with Elysian research into reproduction and longevity. Numerous long-standing problems eventually threaten the status quo: a new supreme ruler emerges on Urulan, whence Raincloud must journey to defuse a threatening situation; various Heliconian secret banking projects become public knowledge, and the Sharers show their disapproval in traditional, nonviolent protests; the ubiquitous machines of Helicon, having become sentient and self-willed, make a bid for independence; meanwhile, a volcanic eruption on Bronze Sky wipes out most of Blackbear's family. A marvelous array of cultures presented in astonishing depth: an enormously impressive achievement, despite Slonczewski's inability to dramatize events rather than simply report them. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
After a failed coup, a revolutionary named Noor is exiled and sentenced to die as a lowly earthling. Vowing to rule earth, but separated from his lieutenants, he is forced to use human beings instead.
In the year 2050, tragedy strikes. Harper Lowe loses her son’s father to a last-minute decision. A drunk Damario Coley is maimed in a freak accident. Quinne Ruiz is assaulted and arrested, and Teanna Kirkwood witnesses the death of her daughter.
Weeks later, the alluring Kareza Noor, CEO of the Genesis Institute, pilots a psychological experiment, the “Begin Again” initiative. It affords Harper, Damario, Quinne and Teanna the opportunity to erase a past regret. One of them must be forced into it.
All solve their former problems but create new ones. Noor, now the Prime Minister of Italy, is plotting a dangerous end-game – if they try to stop him, they will be treated as terrorists.
Before Proposition 172, being a Citizen was a way to separate one’s self from the rest of society. After Proposition 172, the rest of the world truly was separate from you. It was such a simple answer, really. How could one keep every undesirable part of society away from the parts that deserved better? Move it.
In the city of Haven, the dreams of the Citizens have been realized in the Separation project. No longer will people of good stature and breeding be required to interact with the working class, the filthy and disease-ridden rejects that fill the streets. No longer will real people have to suffer junkies, criminals, and thieves. Instead, a cleaner and purer world has been crafted to suit your every need. The best part? Well, all those undesirables had to be worth something, after all. Why not just use them? Give them a short re-education and make them docile workers.
This is the world that a young woman named Kaylee lives in. One where Citizens, the aristocratic elite, capture and enslave ordinary people to suit their needs. This is the Haven of constant fear, where any moment you might be brutally beaten by a gang, stolen by a squad of Citizen “recruiters,” or you might simply starve to death. It is a world of darkness, hidden far below the bright and shining city where the Citizens and their ilk live in splendor. It is a world without hope.
Yet in these dark slums beneath the city of Haven, things are being set in motion. Plans are being carried out, forces are being gathered. The powerful and reclusive slumlord, Elijah, starts a chain of events which will swallow everyone in the city - Citizen and undesirable alike.
Stuck in the middle, Kaylee and her companions will be forced into the horrifying realization that is at the core of life in Haven: no action is without consequence.