Colonization: Down to Earth

While I’m off reading weird fiction for LibraryThing discussion, reading magazines, making notes for new entries, and binge watching The Great War YouTube channel, here’s another entry for another book in Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar universe..

I’m sure tags will point you to other entries in this very long series.

Raw Feed (2000): Colonization: Down to Earth, Harry Turtledove, 2000.down-to-earth

The second and enjoyable installment in Turtledove’s Colonization series packed some surprises: the Germans foolishly provoking war against the Race (and getting nuked big time), the Race taking a cue from Islamic history and taxing those who won’t revere the Lizard Emperors (which, of course, they don’t see as superstition unlike human religions) and being surprised that humans would object, and Sam Yeager (though this is not explicitly stated, only darkly hinted) uncovering evidence that the US launched a surprise nuclear attack on the Race at the series’ beginning.

As with his Great War series, Turtledove adopts a worms-eye view of events. When war breaks out between the Germans and the Race, I wanted a big screen view of events. Instead, we just see how the various characters we’ve been following see the war and are affected by it. However, Turtledove’s characteristic style and method for these alternate history novels has its own advantages. Turtledove, amongst all the chunks of dialogue and internal monologues (which make his books so palatable and quick reading), manages to track the personal nature and consequences of his characters’ problems. Monique Dutourd is coerced into sexually servicing Nazi Dieter Kuhn and, perhaps, learning hard lessons about life from her smuggler brother; Johannes Drucker continues to be a loyal soldier despite almost having his beloved wife carted off to a death camp; Lia Han begins to question her fanatical communism; Rance Auerbach, however, doesn’t really question his attitude toward blacks even after being forcibly relocated to South Africa though he wonders about his girlfriend. It was also nice to see Goldfarb have a bit of luck (and the aid of his old comrades) and land in Canada’s high tech industries. Characters questioning their religious and racial prejudices is a big element in Turtledove’s Great War, Worldwar, and Colonization series.

I liked Moshie Eeuven ponder converting Lizards to, presumably, Judaism. I particularly liked cross-species friendship between Lizard pilot Nesseref and Jewish leader Mordechai Anielewicz and his son and also between Sam Yeager, who, against orders, is taking a personal interest in discovering who launched that sneak nuclear attack on the Lizards. Exiled Shipleader Straha realizes that he considers Yeager a friend when he ponders informing the Race that Yeager is covertly racing two Race hatchlings as humans. This is a counterpoint to Ttomalss’ raising of human Kassquit from infancy. The book derives some humor from Ttomalss trying to sort out the influence of genetics from culture. His relation with Kassquit is similar to a human father with a teenage daughter (and somewhat mirrored by Johnathan’s Yeager’s relationship with his parents), and he labors under the impression that surely a human child isn’t as ungrateful to its human parents.

This book has a lot of sex in it — Turtledove usually considers his characters’ sex lives as an important part of their lives, but Race and human sexualities, and their differences, are explicitly given as significant factors in culture. The sex scenes between Kassquit and Johnathan Yeager are hilarious as Kassquit has naively studied porn videos to prepare for her sexual initiation and a nonplussed Ttomalss barges in on the action.

 

More fantastic fiction reviews are indexed by title and author/editor.

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