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Remnant Population Paperback – September 30, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In a far-flung capitalistic empire among the stars, generations of colonization without a single contact with an intelligent, non-human species have reduced the colonial process to a franchise system. Amid the abuses of the system which inevitably follow, an old woman decides not to leave when her failed colony is evacuated, thinking the freedom to live alone and die in peace is worth any risk. In this entertaining but suspenseful first-contact novel, Elizabeth Moon's apt depiction of the interaction between old and young plays counterpoint to the interaction between human and alien. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA. Failure to become a successful space colony, plus fear of the indigenous non-human population, forces the abandonment of Sims Bancorp Colony. Ofelia, tired of taking orders and too elderly to survive the trip to the next colony, hides until all fellow humans are evacuated. Alone but unafraid, she meets the challenges of survival and eventually befriends the natives who call themselves "The People." Gradually, Ofelia becomes an important member of The People and acts as their diplomatic liaison when a new group of humans return to the planet. Once downtrodden and overlooked, Ofelia rises above her old position to rebuild her self-esteem and redefine herself as she rises to situations calling for her to use her intelligence, emotional fortitude, and abilities. Once she has power, she uses it wisely and justly. The quick pace of the action, the vibrant descriptions, and the quirky aliens and humans will keep readers engrossed in the story. Teens unfamiliar with science fiction will find this as intriguing as those who avidly read the genre.?Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034546219X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345462190
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Moon grew up on the Texas-Mexico border, a voracious reader and early writer. She spent much of her early years in a hardware store where nothing was in shrink-wrap or little plastic containers, and mule collars still hung on the back wall. She has a history degree from Rice University and a biology degree from the University of Texas at Austin, plus some graduate work in biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio; between the first two, she spent three years on active duty in the USMC. Her bibliography includes 20+ novels and 30+ short fiction works, nearly all in science fiction or fantasy. REMNANT POPULATION was a Hugo finalist in 1997; THE SPEED OF DARK won the Nebula Award in 2003.

When not writing, she likes to wander around taking pictures of wildlife and native plants, bake bread, eat chocolate, sing with a choir, and laugh.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
When her husband Humberto died, Ofelia became her son's dependent in the eyes of Sims Bancorp. Forty years after she helped to found Colony 3245.12, all of her children but Barto are dead along with their father; and Ofelia tolerates her domineering daughter-in-law Rosara as best she can. When Sims Bancorp sends a ship to withdraw the colonists, after deciding to abandon its unprofitable colony and cede its license to the world that Ofelia now considers her home, the company demands extra payment for relocating the useless old woman who will probably die in cryosleep, anyway. Luckily for Ofelia, though, she's scheduled for a later shuttle than Barto and Rosara. When she slips away from the village to hide in the nearby, still untouched alien forest, the only two people who would protest her absence are already in the cryotanks. Soon the ship is gone, leaving Ofelia alone. And that's just fine with her.

The old woman revels in her solitude, because this is the first time in her long life that she's been free from the demands and restrictions placed on her by others. She tends her garden, competently maintains the village's power plant, and laughs when she throws her last pair of detested shoes into the recycler. Then another company's ship enters orbit, and starts to insert a colony at a location thousands of miles from Ofelia's village. At which time she, and the newly arrived colonists, find out that this world has indigenous intelligent life after all.

The friend who recommended this book to me was right. Ofelia, a person who had little worth to start with in her society's eyes - a housewife and mother, educated no more than necessary to perform her expected tasks - has no value at all now, in age and physical infirmity.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Sharon L. Goodman on May 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Remnant Population is a character-based story. It contemplates the nature of radical change, exploring its effects on an aged individual and her physical world. This book begs the questions... Is it ever too late to remake life and redefine self? Is it truly possible to change our own, and other's, social values? How stable is change, begun in solitude, when challenged with social expectations?
I enjoy novels, of any genre, that offer a platform from which readers may contemplate the mysterious depth of their own truths and choices. In Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon has gifted her readers with a rare combination of ageless truths, introspection and a sensitivity to wisdoms most prevalent in the aged. She has also gifted me with a book I treasure and won't part with.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Phome on December 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Remnant Population" is a beautiful story about an "old woman" whose path of discovery is set in a SF context.
At 70, Ofelia is considered to be too old to be of any use to the Colony which had settled on the planet some 40 years earlier, but have now been told to move on. Ofelia knows this, and does not look forward to the move in cryopreservation, which is likely to kill her. As an elderly woman, she is no longer appreciated by her fellow colony, rather - she is a liability.
But Ofelia has her own plans. If she can only convince the colony to leave her behind ... all she wants to do is tend to her garden and be left in peace. No one to tell her what to do. No one to tell her what to wear. No one to chide her. She decides to hide herself when the colony moves out. She knows that they won't look long for an old woman ... and she's right.
Soon, Ofelia learns to set herself free. As the only one remaining on the planet, she can do whatever she wants. There is enough infrastructure left behind by the colony that she can survive for years. So she plants everyones gardens and finally gets to walk around barefoot and hatless.
But then, something unusual happens. One day, as she is at the center, monitoring for storms and writing "real" stories behind the notes on people who dies in the colony, she hears an interchange of humans attempting to land on the planet --- and something goes horribly wrong. Against all Ofelia's expectations and knowledge, the humans are attacked by aliens. Shortly after, strange things start to happen where she is. Doors left open that she was sure she'd closed. Or maybe she was just a crazy old woman after all?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Erik Kauppi on October 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon is an unusual book in quite a few ways.
To start with, the protagonist, Ofelia, is over 70 years old, and a grandmother. She's not as spry as she was, and not taken seriously by her family or community. Just a "crazy old lady". I can think of very few SF books where the protagonist is that old, unless of course they have some life-extension technology. Ofelia's people do not seriously consider the wants and concerns of an old person. Perhaps our culture doesn't either, if you judge by their (lack of) prominence in fiction.
Ofelia lives in a struggling colony on a far-away planet. She's put her whole life into the colony -- the gardens, the family and friends she has buried there, the labor of a long life. Now the corporate owners of the world and the colony have decided it is "not viable" and they are shipping their employees off to start over on another world. Ofelia decides she won't leave.
The colonists and the corporate masters leave, not too concerned about one missing old lady. Ofelia is alone. Alone means un-fettered by the needs and demands of other people. Un-concerned about what the neighbors will think of what she wears or does. Free to do sensible things which she is very capable of, and also free to make her own artwork and to sit in the sun and dream.
This is the first and perhaps largest joy of the book. It is a personal growth story about someone whose life we might have assumed to be nearly over. Left to go wild, Ofelia blossoms. She is practical and careful, but at the same time her child self is finally set free.
Of course all is not well in paradise for long. Ofelia will be presented with plenty of challenges.
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