Spinneret
Timothy Zahn

Category: Science Fiction
Morality: B
Writing: B-

The prologue of Spinneret is first contact with a twist: mankind finally leaves the solar system, only to discover that all habitable worlds within reach are already claimed by other races–except for Astra, a small, earth-like planet that no one wants because it has no metals. A colony, run by the United States but loosely under the control of the UN, is begun. Soon, however, the colonists find that Astra was once inhabited by aliens who left behind a piece of unusual and valuable technology. The rest of the book is mostly taken up with the political machinations that ensue between the United States, the UN, the colonists, and five alien races as they all struggle for control of Astra.

Zahn has always been better at plots and Cool Ideas ™ than at characterization; and Spinneret, even more than some of his other novels, does not delve into the human psyche. Plus, unlike most of Zahn’s other novels, some of the alien races are lamentably flat. Nevertheless, while he doesn’t really explore his characters, they’re not cliches or caricatures. The plot rattles along at a brisk pace, and the politics and intrigue are a lot of fun. (Fans of the United Nations may not be too thrilled, though.)

Some of the characters swear a bit, but otherwise there’s nothing to object to in this novel.

Posted by Rose | May 22, 2003

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