log(book)

This Alien Shore

Cover of This Alien Shore.

Damn, this book could have been so good. But it falls into the trap of having extremely good worldbuilding and then being unable to back it up with an equally good plot. It’s a shame, because the premise is so much fun:

Basically, people developed interstellar travel, but it caused mutations, which is the reason for all “aliens” being humanoid. Earth cut off these aliens in an outburst of fear. One of these new humanoid species later found a better way of fast travel, usable only by them. They are a group of humans with strong psychological disorders that haven’t been around on future-earth for centuries. The way they embrace their differences (signalling their peculiarities via face paint) is a representation of diversity the rest of the writing industry could stand to imitate, and it’s lavish in its attention to detail: Rooms and colours are arranged to work for people with ADHD, blindness, OCD; presentations and interactions are structured to respect the strongest needs present. Empaths and people with zero empathy split society’s tasks according to their strengths and preferences, and so on.

Other worldbuilding is similarly great in detail: for example, people who don’t live on planets have different sets of clothing for high-g and low-g environments, and the way you wear your clothing, especially towards humanoid species with strong bodily mutations, signals a lot about politeness. Hackers work just as they do now, because human psyche doesn’t change, and her understanding is both great and hilarious. All this is so good.

The plot … isn’t, really. I liked the plot to the exact extent that it showed off the world, and I couldn’t care about the protagonist at all. Hence the rating, and I won’t read the second part of the series, I think.

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