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Lovelock by Orson Scott Card


by Orson Scott Card, Kathryn H. Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mayflower Trilogy (1)

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I must read and re-read it:
Lovelock is a book that I read many years ago, in its hardback version, and these last weeks, I’ve re-read it, in its eBook version (I lost the printed book during a move).
I had felt a lot of pleasure reading it in the past, but during my last read, this pleasure was really exacerbated! Is it because, reaching an age of half a century, I’ve read it with a more experienced, mature mind? One thing is sure for me: the author wrote a text with a great depth, about the main character of the novel.

Not an ordinary protagonist:
And really, what a character…
A capuchin monkey flying toward the stars!
Well, not an ordinary male capuchin monkey, no… an “enhanced” one, genetically engineered by humans of the future. He is intelligent, efficient… but all these improvements have not been made to give to this capuchin monkey called Lovelock any personal advantage.
Lovelock is what is called a Witness, an animal which must follow a human being everywhere, in the case of the story a female celebrated Scientist, Carole Jeanne. But in fact, Lovelock is more a slave, a possession, like a personal toaster. His goal, for which he has been conditioned, is to please the Gaialogist (a Scientist seeing the ecology of a planet as a unique living being), and to notably record her life. That’s why micro cameras have been inserted behind the retinas of the monkey, recording her life in a memory bank, and the transfer of the data accumulated on external memories and TV screens, via a computer cable extending out of Lovelock’s head.
In this far future ear, it is customary for humans to have their witness with them, and when Carole Jeanne decides to help terraform a far distant planet, she is part of the interstellar journey going there, with her witness, her husband, their children, and her stepfather and stepmother.

Watching ourselves another way:
What is most interesting is that we discover the story through the personal and secret diary of Lovelock. This way of narrating the story using the first person instead of the third, and especially through the observations of an animal, is original, and very profound.

Like a nod to an old text of French literature:
His analysis of our human society, his observations and remarks, have a special connotation for me, a French reader and writer. I have a double French and English-American culture, and the text remembers me vaguely about, in my French part, a story written and published by Montesquieu in 1721, “Les Lettres Persanes”, “The Persian letters”. In it, two Persian noblemen travel through the France of the 18th century, and watch it through their foreign eyes and culture.
This more than an animal, which has been given by humans a higher consciousness, nevertheless judges us, humans, and our society. It’s interesting too, here, to see how its view of us through the filter of its mind can tell us many things about ourselves.

A fight for freedom:
The capuchin monkey gets progressively aware of his slave’s condition, and progressively fights against all his conditionings. He will work for his freedom aboard the interstellar Ark which is preparing for its fantastic journey, preparing his own future.

A change of perspective
I encourage everyone to read this memorable novel… after having read it, you will no more see your life and the world the same way!
Humanly, a rewarding experience…

Post scriptum:
This story was previewed to be the first book of the Mayflower trilogy, but the second and, foremost, the third one, were never written!
I loved so much Lovelock that, for me, it’s kind of dramatic…
Please, Mister Card, write the two next books, complete the trilogy!

Post scriptum 2 : Kathryn H. Kidd cowrote the book with him, sorry it I forgot that. ( )
  LHTide | Jun 4, 2016 |
The story did not interest me at all.
  librisissimo | May 28, 2016 |
Lovelock is set in a near-future in which mankind is preparing to send out its first interstellar colonization ship, called the Mayflower. Lovelock, a genetically- and cybernetically-enhanced Capuchin monkey relates the story in the first person. Lovelock serves as the "Witness" for Carol Jeanne Cocciolone, meaning that his job is to record every waking moment of the life of a prominent member of society. As the Gaiaologist of the Mayflower, Carol Jeanne is responsible for managing the extensive terraforming their new planet will require, integrating the terrestrial species needed for the colonists' survival with the planet's existing ecology. In the speculative future describes by the novel, a new field of science, Gaiaology, has come into existence, based on the Gaia Hypothesis. Like every Witness, Lovelock has been indoctrinated to love and obey his owner unconditionally.

[edit] Plot summary
When the book begins, the Cocciolone family is packing for their new life aboard the Mayflower. The family consists of Carol Jeanne, her husband Red, their daughters Lydia and Emmy, and Red's parents Mamie and Stef. They take a shuttle to the Ark, during which Lovelock is ashamed of his primitive, terrified response to free-fall.

Aboard the Mayflower, the Cocciolone family begins to integrate themselves into the society of the Ark. When Lovelock meets a scientist who attempts to communicate with him via sign language, Carol Jeanne explains that she hadn't taught her Witness sign language because she didn't want him "chattering to [her] all the time."[1] This event marks Lovelock's first feelings of furious rebellion.

Lovelock begins to long for a mate, and children of his own. After learning about a supply of cryogenically frozen capuchin monkeys, he steals a young female monkey and hides her in the low-gravity poles that support the Ark. Unfortunately, she grows up stunted and sickly. Lovelock, realizing that should his actions be discovered he would be put to death, begins to write his story in a hidden file on the Ark's computer.
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Reminded me a lot of Card's later Ender books. Although the action takes place in an exotic setting (on a colony ship, just about to set off in search of a suitable planet) the action really has to do with small-town dramas. (leaving one's old life behind irrevocably is very traumatic to relationships, Card theorizes). Against this background, our protagonist, an "enhanced" monkey, gradually comes to a sense of self-awareness - and a desire for respect and equality.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Lovelock is an enhanced capucin monkey who acts as a recorder for Carol Jeanne, a gaiologist, who is embarking on a modern day ark. This story is about going to the spaceship ark and also Lovelock's growing self awareness and ability to assert same. ( )
  WinonaBaines | Dec 13, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orson Scott Cardprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kidd, Kathryn H.main authorall editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To our good friends the Childs,
Dennis, who has the right tool for suitors and sheep,
Carla, with a soft shoulder and a warm heart,
and Derek▬welcome home.
First words
If I had known what Mayflower held for me, I might have stayed in New Hampshire.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812518055, Mass Market Paperback)

On the Ark, a colony ship bound outward across the stars, not everyone is a volunteer-or even human. Lovelock is a capuchin monkey, engineered from conception to be the perfect servant: intelligent, agile, and devoted to his owner. He is a Witness, privileged to spend his days and nights recording the life of one of Earth's most brilliant scientists via digital devices implanted behind his eyes.

But Lovelock is something special among Witnesses. He's a smarter than most human's; smart enough to break through some of his conditioning. Smart enough to feel the bonds of slavery-and want freedom. Like "Speaker for the Dead" and "Xenocide," "Lovelock" probes the provocative interface between humanity and another sentient species, set against the awesome scope of interstellar space.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:15 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The transformation of a monkey from slave to rebel. He is Lovelock, a genetically enhanced animal serving as personal secretary to a famous woman planetologist on the colony spaceship, Mayflower. A look at animal rights from a futuristic perspective.

» see all 2 descriptions

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