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WesternSFA
Pock s World
by Dave Duncan
Edge Science Fiction, 2010, $15.OO, 250pp
Release Date: January 1, 2011

Pock’s World examines the human tendency, or temptation, to play God. Five men and women, each of them influential in very different ways (political, moneyed, media-sleaze, corporate, and religious) are sent to evaluate whether the population of an entire planet needs to be “sterilized” to eliminate an “alien” influence from taking hold. But just how alien are they, really? The so-called Diallelon abominations are nothing other than extensively genetically modified synthetic hominins – “supermen” – deemed heretical by the Catholic Church, and feared by colonists. The question is, are they feared for themselves, or for the repercussion of sterilization that is visited upon planets infected by hubris incarnate? Or is the Church simply looking for an excuse to get rid of a planetary population that enjoys a heretical, happy freedom of its own? Theoretically, by sending five investigators, only one of whom is a priest, an objective and fair assessment will be made. Hmmm.

Five different agendas – more, when you factor in the citizens of Pock’s World and the diallelons – jostle for pre-eminence in this story, and the reader gets to make up his or her own mind as to which has the ring of truth, or if all of them are variations on a theme of self-deception.

The cover art is designed to appeal to the young adult market, but there is YA and YA. Pock’s World is in Golden Compass territory, not to be confused with teen angst or Heinleinian chest-thumping. ~~ Chris Paige

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