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WesternSFA
Earthseed
by Pamela Sargent
TOR Teen; $9.99; 283pp
Release Date: February 28, 2012

This novel was original published in 1983 and is the first in a trio of novels. The other two will undoubtedly be reprinted as well. It’s being republished because it was just optioned by Paramount for a film and I suspect to hitch onto the popularity of “The Hunger Games.”

The story revolves around a space ship sent off from a dying Earth to repopulate new worlds with humans born and raised on the ship. The tale focuses on Zoheret; a young woman I’m guessing is about 17—ages are not real clear. And we get a look at her and the other teenagers’ lives on the ship. It appears there’s only about thirty or so space farers. The ship called just “Ship” is their parent, teacher, counselor, first aid giver, meal-provider, etc.

This group is no different than any other group of highschoolers—they want to rebel. They are being prepped for an imminent arrival on a class M world to begin their new lives without the help of Ship. Some are happy about that and some are not.

So Ship decides they must all be set loose in the center of the craft in an area called the Hollow which sounds as if it’s miles and miles of forested landscape, with streams, rivers, a lake, hills woods, fields etc. complete with some wild animals—deer and wolves are mentioned. The teenagers are divided into two groups and sent out with some bare necessities and told to have at it.

Kind of “Lord of the Flies”-ish. But they are not actually marooned. If push comes to shove they can chicken out and return to the normal Ship’s interior. But only under dire circumstances.
Needless to say there’s plenty of shuffling around as to who’s going to boss whom. And we see a lot of personality clashes, power struggles and fights as they work to build settlements.

What the two groups don’t know is there is a whole cache of adults who stowed away on the ship just before it launched. They have just woken from stasis and they are intent on running things their way. The track down the teenagers and corral them up in a compound they swiftly build with watch towers, barbed wire and all.

To mitigate this, there is yet another group of adults also woken from stasis that helped to design the ship and are not so hell-bent on disciplining and running the lives of the ship-born youngsters.

So—lots of confrontations and tense situations.

I liked this tale well enough. It is very well-written and moves right along. The overall tone is a bit grim as these kids are constantly fighting among themselves to either maintain their position in the pecking order or simply to survive and usually violence of some kind is involved.

A great scene is when Ship has been temporarily disabled and you hear the true humanity of its soul when it’s finally rescued. This is no powerful electronic god but a computer with doubts, fears and feelings.

Everything gets resolved in the end just as they reach the planet that Ship has found for them. ~~ Sue Martin

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