I first heard about Marseguro by Edward Willett via the “Big Idea” column on Scalzi’s blog. I thought the concept was really compelling and, after I had the good fortune of winning the sequel from the author, asked if I could review both here (he was kind enough to send both books).
After a disaster strikes Earth, a fanatical religious group that preaches against the genetic modification of humans, takes over the planet. Geneticist Victor Hansen flees with the Selkies, his newly-created race of water-breathing humans, and some normal humans to Marseguro, a distant planet. But the Earth government isn’t going to let them get away and, fifty years later, they sic Victor’s own grandson, Richard, on them. But when the Earth strike force arrives to attack, they discover that the Selkies will fight back, and Richard Hansen learns something about himself that changes his life.
I’ve tried my best to describe the plot, but there’s a lot going on here, so my summary really only touches on the high points. The first section of the book gears up slowly, as the author spends some time introducing us to the world he’s created, but the action picks up in the book’s second act as the attack/defense story gets ratcheted up to the next level. Actually, while I know not everyone appreciates this kind of slower start, for me, Willett really shines at world-building. He brought Marseguro (the planet) to life for me and I enjoyed getting to know Earth of the Body Purified (which reminded me of Heinlein’s religious dictatorship of “If This Goes On –“ and Revolt in 2100), however briefly the action takes place there.
I won’t say that this was the best sci-fi book I’ve read this year. For one thing, there were a few spots where something took me out of the story – either the writing got a little rough or a character did something that came out of left field and threw me off. But, in general, Willett is a strong writer with a great concept and good story. Anyone who wants to read a novel that talks about tough ethical questions and has characters whose lives are in shades of grey will enjoy Marseguro.
Buy Marseguro on Amazon.
On to sequel Terra Insegura next!