Thursday, August 17, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Children of The Divide by Patrick S. Tomlinson

This is a review of Children of the Divide, the third book in the Children of a Dead Earth series by Patrick S. Tomlinson, which began with The Ark and Trident's Forge

It's interesting that the word "children" plays such a central role in the description of the series and in particular in the title of the third book  Children of the Divide. I had thought that the use of this word was primarily metaphorical but by definition children are living representations of the future and even though the series is set far in the future from the reader's point of view, the central idea of the entire series so far is about the future of humanity and the use of "children" emphasizes this.

The first book was about the end of the 200-year journey of a generation ship ("The Ark") from an Earth (which was destroyed by a deliberately targeted black hole) to a new home planet named Gaia in the star system Tau Ceti. The second book (Trident's Forge) is about first contact between the humans and intelligent but technologically underdeveloped aliens and the growing pains associated with colonization as humanity adapts to living on a planet after only knowing life in an artificial environment.

Children of the Divide, the third book in the series builds on this background by focusing on the difficulties and conflicts that arise 15 years after the events of the second book. The human colony is more established and intertwined with the aliens (called Atlantians, after the name of the continent they are mostly found in).

However, in this book the story primarily revolves around inter-generational and cultural conflict, human-Atlantis, father-son and parents-adopted child.

One key feature of this book which seemed to be executed more effectively this time than in the second book, was the depiction of the gender-neutral nature of the aliens. In Trident's Forge, this seemed like an unnecessary affectation but for some reason in the third book the regular use of ze/zer/zers to describe the main character of Benexx, an Atlantian teenager works well. (It may just be that as a reader I have grown more accustomed to the idea of of non-binary gender identities since I read Trident's Forge.)

Other key developments in the story involve the discovery of an alien artifact, a terrorist attack on the anniversary of First Contact, an important kidnapping and a violent riot between aliens and humans.

Overall, this was a thrilling entry in the series. These books are a compelling combination of science fiction and mystery thriller. I thought the Children of a Dead Earth series was a trilogy but it seems like there will be more books forthcoming as there are developments at the end of the third book which raise issues that question the existential premises the story is based upon.

Title: Children of the Divide (Children of a Dead Earth, #3).
Patrick S. Tomlinson.
Paperback: 400 pages.
Date Published: August 1, 2017.
Date Read: August 6, 2017.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.83/4.0).


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