Building Harlequin's Moon
Larry Niven & Brenda Cooper
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The first interstellar starship, John Glenn, fled a Solar System populated by rogue AIs and machine/human hybrids, threatened by too much nanotechnology, and rife with political dangers. The John Glenn's crew intended to terraform the nearly pristine planet Ymir, in hopes of creating a utopian society that would limit intelligent technology.
But by some miscalculation they have landed in another solar system and must shape the gas giant planet Harlequin's moon, Selene, into a new, temporary home. Their only hope of ever reaching Ymir is to rebuild their store of antimatter by terraforming the moon.
Gabriel, the head terraformer, must lead this nearly impossible task, with all the wrong materials: the wrong ships and tools, and too few resources. His primary tools are the uneducated and nearly-illiterate children of the original colonists, born and bred to build Harlequin's moon into an antimatter factory.
Rachel Vanowen is one of these children. Basically a slave girl, she must do whatever the terraforming Council tells her. She knows that Council monitors her actions from a circling vessel above Selene's atmosphere, and is responsible for everything Rachel and her people know, as well as all the skills, food, and knowledge they have ever received. With no concept of the future and a life defined with duty, how will the children of Selene ever survive once the Council is through terraforming and have abandoned Selene for its ultimate goal of Ymir?
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From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Masterful, intricate and probing
The very best science fiction is writ large with concepts and principles having past shaping influence, contemporary conflict and far-reaching cultural ramifications, in addition, of course, to being entertaining. Niven and Cooper have produced just such a story. A masterful tale spanning millennia, grappling with questions of technology, ethics, social power, and indivdual purpose, Building Harlequin's Moon is at once BIG and intensely personal. In entering this story, one feels the growing weight of having the available use of powerful technological tools and the associated responsibilities and fallout in wielding them. The story explores the contrasting assumptions between those who have extensive scientific knowledge and the beneficiaries who are expected to serve them, but it also explores the factions within each of those groups. What happens then when individuals in each group become aware of the other's reactions and begin to doubt their own?
Building Harlequin's Moon IS entertaining, but you will walk away with new perceptions and new questions for your own culture.
Several OCR typos, but still a nice novel
A good novel -- not as sweeping as some sci-fi plots, but rather more focused on the human conflicts and personalities that ultimately determine the success or failure of any grand endeavor. As for the quality of the format, it's clear that the text of this e-book was generated by optically scanning a printed format, because there are scanning errors throughout. Not frequent enough to ruin the book, but still an annoyance, and inexplicable given how recently the book was written.