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Daughter of Elysium - An Elysium Cycle Novel Paperback – September 14, 2009
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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. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Top customer reviews
There are four major problems facing Shora -- an issue with the longevity of the Elysiums (Blackbear's focus), the patience of the Sharers for the stupidity and short-sightedness of other other humans, a threat from one barbarian world that could destroy the peace of the galaxy (Raincloud's job), and an internal robotic problem that drove humans across the galaxy in the first place. Frankly these are too many major stories to be tackling and I felt that most of them were given shorter treatment than I would have liked; focus on the first three would have been great with a set-up for another novel to tackle the robot problem.
The Windclans were engaging enough that I'd love to read more about them. The Sharers are unique and intriguing and I fell in love with them in "A Door Into Ocean" so I'm curious as to their beginnings. The Elysiums seem frighteningly like us today as do the barbarians off-world in their blind pursuit of what each person or family wants regardless of the greater good. I plan to see if I can find more of these stories and start reading them.
I loved this book in its print version, so much so that I needed to get a Kindle version. The story itself is gripping -- a struggle of foreigners on a world full of nearly immortal people. A tale of cultures, feminism, grown technology and growing sentience, as well as the differences between the poor and the rich, the ageless and the short-lived.
I'm actually writing this because the Kindle version has a serious formatting issue about a third of the way through -- everything starts underlining. It's detracting from my otherwise happy enjoyment of the story of Raincloud, Blackbear, their children and the world of Shora.
(This would be 5 stars except for formatting. The book itself should be 5 stars, and perhaps the formatting should be a 2)
UPDATE: The formatting is supposed to be fixed. I haven't had a chance to go back and re-read, but this puts the book back up into a 5 star for me.
Each of these cultures is completely distinct from the others, with regard not only to manners, customs, and dress, but also some of their fundamental assumptions about how human society should be organized. The interplay between members of these cultures -- their conversations, arguments, and differing opinions -- bring to life a novel which might otherwise have been tedious. Excellent reading!