Copyright 2004 by
I first read this on the 13th March 2004.
In the far, far, far future, Superhumans have genetically reconstructed the
urhumans, the original natural humans of our milieu. These Supras
have created small tribes of such people across the ancient Earth.
one of these natural humans. She is a young woman growing up in the rustic lifestyle
of the Hard River tribe, while around her, and in the skies above, superhumanly
evolved humanity live their distant, mysterious ways.
Then Earth is attacked by monstrous forces and amid the massive destruction,
all of Cley's tribe is killed, except herself.
Now she must work with the Supras to battle the greatest evil humanity has ever
The beginning of the novel is perfectly reasonable SF: young woman growing up in some
distant time and learning about her world. As she learns, we also
learn that she is not as primitive nor her environment as rustic as we initially
There's a lovely interlude where she is saved by a far-future version of a
raccoon, and forms a firm friendship with it.
But then it rather changes pace, retargetting itself to the younger reader as a
scientific "Alice In Wonderland", a "Sophie's World" for futurology. At its best
it's reminiscent of Aldiss' "Hothouse". For far too much of the book one can only
assume that Gregory Benford must have read and enjoyed "Heartlight" by T. A. Barron,
something I find astonishing.
Hard River Cley, our reluctant heroine, experiences most of the
astounding adventure as a dazed confusion of bright colours. However, the friendly
"Seeker After Patterns" is on hand to explain all this in terms with which
an ecologically-aware twelve-year-old would feel comfortable.
And even though
it is patiently reiterated that humans are not the centre of the universe, it
becomes obvious that this is the opposite of the true state of affairs,
and quite right too!
Loaded on the 5th May 2004.