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The Florians by Brian M. Stableford
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The Florians

by Brian M. Stableford

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Series: Daedalus Mission (1)

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The Daedalus was to be the first interstellar mission in over 100 years. It's goal: to re-establish contact with Earth's colonies on distant planets. The crew of the Daedalus was stripped down to 7. Enough to get there and back again, and advise the colonists. They were called ratcatchers - sent out among the stars to find out what problems the colonies were having, and to eliminate those problems. The unfortunate truth is that they didn't know what kinds of problems they were going to encounter. Or if they were going to be given the opportunity to assist at all.

I enjoyed the book. I appreciated the way in which we begin to understand the problems facing the colonists. I liked the set up. And, although I've only read two books, i'm beginning to see a pattern in Stableford's writing: a mystery unfolds in the context of a conflict between to opposing forces, but a third free-agent threatens to unbalance the playing field and steal the show. I've got another one of his books on the stack next to my bed-side table, so we'll see very soon if the formula plays out again.

I'm actually curious how the rest of the series will play out. We've given a mission with a crew of seven, but only one is fully fleshed out, with another two given a first coat. Another was cut in, and 3 weren't touched at all. Will we continue to take the point of view of Alex Alexander, the ecologist? Or will the focus change from mission to mission? Inquiring minds will have to find out in future volumes, I imagine. ( )
1 vote helver | Jun 21, 2010 |
If you like old-fashioned puzzle-SF, you could do worse. The Florians is the beginning of Stableford's Daedalus series, reminiscent of Star Trek and Forbidden Planet. The starship's mission is to visit and help colonies left without out Earth assistance for several hundred years. A prolog reveals that a previous mission found 4 colonies in serious trouble and 1 dead and gone. The Daedalus is equipped with labs and experts intended to diagnose and remedy problems in the co-adaptation process of humans on alien worlds. While there is much running around and hugger mugger, mostly there's a lot of talking.

The prolog contains a few touches of insight as our hero tries to mend fences with his teenage son before leaving, but mostly it's a completely unnecessary info-dump on the history of the colonization effort. On the one hand, there's a brief passage in the prolog like this, at the end of the father and son's unsuccessful attempts to communicate: "In truth, they were being honest now in revealing no depths of emotion. maintaining an easy distance from one another. It would be in the future, with the creeping regrets and the notions of what ought to have been, that hypocrisy would cover up the reality."

But mostly the prolog contains unbelievable dialog, like this from the 17-year old: "When the last starship carried colonist into space seventy-five years ago the Earth was in ruins. Seven billion people were left in the wreck of a world which had used up everything it had to send seven million people to alien planets," This is just a snippet of many paragraphs.

The body of the book is more straightforward. The puzzle that drives the short novel is biological and reasonably interesting, the equivalent for SF of a short old-fashioned mystery story. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | May 29, 2010 |
Well plotted and paced book. The planet heavs into the imagination with its original vermigeous inhabitants and identical flora. ( )
  Cloud9 | Sep 12, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brian M. Stablefordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Oakes, TerryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was late September, the trees shedding their useless leaves, stripping down for the winter with the aid of a hurried, anxious wind.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Once a colony ship has left Earth, it cannot be recalled and it cannot be contacted. The fate of those vessels and their cargoes - designed to be the seeds of new human worlds - remained a tantalizing mystery to those who stayed home.

The mission of the scientific recontact ship Daedalus  was to go out there and find out what happened. And, if necessary, help out the colonists should their developing worlds have taken warped paths.

The Florians is the story of the first flight of the Daedalusand its crew of seven.
    A PLANETARY COLONY

is one life-system invading another. It's the seed of Earth trying to implant itself in alien soil. Sure, the worlds have been surveyed, the life-systems inspected, and the whole venture certified practical by men who are trained to guess right.

But it's not as simple as that. when a life-system in balance is invaded by another there are bound to be ecological repercussions, both short- and long- term. the colonists have no way of analyzing the ecological effects of their invasion, let alone any capacity to mount a long-range scientific program to deal with them. Over a period of time there are bound to be permanent antagonisms developed between the two lifie-systems. The invasion will cause permanent change in both systems, as they react to one another and - in the long term - adapt to one another.

The Daedalus was designed to recontact colonies. It's a flying laboratory, fitted out for the specific tasks of genetic analysis and gentle engineering. Its job is to help resolve the antagonisms which inevitably develop between the life systems.
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