SciFi Monkeys and TANSTAAFL Press brings you a review of
Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti
Other Systems was an ambitious project that just reached too far. It included FTL, alien races, the redemption of a girl lost in abuse, a family bound in crisis, a dying race, enslavement, space exploration and artificial intelligence all stuffed into a mattress cover to hopefully make a comfortable bed. Sounds interesting but it won’t prove to give you a comfortable rest.
That being said, I really did like the main character arch of one Abigail Boyd Lei. Born on an earth that has regressed technologically after seeding colonies across space, Abigail is a moderately fortunate young girl in a world where mere poverty is fortunate. A smart young girl in Seattle, she is educated and trained as a librarian. She honors her parents like any good oriental girl should.
Life suddenly takes a left turn when some of the long lost colonists come back to earth to bring some of the younger people out of “barbarity” and into their “warm bosom”. With promises of a new life, some 750000 young people, including our heroine, take passage on their sleep ship with promises of a gentle garden of a world where everyone lives comfortably. Remember the old adage, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
First more than half die on the trip because they don’t fit well with the sleep process. Then when they arrive, they are broken up and either adopted (the lucky ones), sent to indentured labor for 7 years (the ok ones), or out and out used as breeding stock (the not so lucky ones). Our heroine is raped and forced to bear a baby, which is then taken away from her. All the time she worries about her younger sister and brother.
Not to give further spoilers, the book follows Abby through to find out the fate of her travelling companions, her family and to her own version of redemption.
Abby’s character is exceedingly well written. Many Americans might think she is too meek but you are taught that from birth as a daughter of an Asian household. I was pleased the author didn’t turn Abby into some avenging Rambo-esque person totally out of character with her upbringing. ‘
Abby’s path to salvation was definitely thought through and executed well. There were compromises, losses and setbacks. The final solution isn’t perfect, but good.
The world / society of the abductors was in depth and changing as any society will. Rare that you see that level of detail put into the background. Kudos to Elizabeth for her detail-oriented mind.
The science in this book was quite good, especially the biology.
Not So Good:
The book actually begins with someone in the colonies (that enslaves the humans) committing suicide. It had to do with genetics laws but I never really felt it gelled. Here is a race that is declining so badly that they splice their DNA with that of creatures on their new world. Then they say those new hybrids can’t breed? Instead they go back to earth and shanghai more breeding stock. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Maybe someone else, but not me.
The entire plot line with the Alekos family felt contrived and forced. Worse I didn’t feel it necessary. I found myself skimming pages anytime they were discussed until I’d come to another Abby segment. There were many more and better ways to instigate Abby into a group of spacers.
There were too many scenes with Abby exploring that didn’t do anything to further her character or the plot. Wasted time – wasted words.