Monday, February 1, 2016

Flinging Across Space

Hi Readers!  How was your weekend?  Mine was insanely busy...but what else is new :-)  I did however manage to blaze through a book, which I will now ramble about.  The book The Rowan by my favorite Anne McCaffrey is an old school sci fi book that is always a perfect go to book.  We have been watching The X-Files here at my house and it made me nostalgic for some of my old school reading so The Rowan was grabbed and read.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Rowan is about an orphan colonial child who is found to have great telekinetic and telepathic abilities.  In this future universe, people with any sort of mental abilities are called Talents and the people who posses the high level and rare combination of telekinesis and telepathy are called Primes and are invaluable to keeping the now space fairing human race going.    These Primes have the ability to fling any object, large or small across an set amount of space.  This includes ships, drones, packages and any other thing a new planetary colony may need.  The Rowan is the child rescued from a devastating mudslide on the colonial planet Altair.  She is deemed to be Prime material and is so trained.  We follow the Rowen as she grows from a child to a teenager, encountering many hardships, growing moments along the way.  She also develops her talents, showing a promise to become one of the most talented Primes alive.  The next part of the book shows the Rowan taking over her own Prime station.  She is adept at her job and continues to grow but she if very lonely.  Although she tries, any person under her high level of talent just is not comfortable spending too much time around her.  This is loneliness is made worse by her inability to leave the moon on which her station is built due to dealing with a traumatizing illness anytime she tries to leave.  One day while working, the Rowan is contacted by mind from the far away colonial planet Deneb.  The contact states that the planet is under attack and requests help.  After lobbing a few missiles Earth's way to demonstrate the sever danger the planet is under.  To save the planet the Rowen merges with the other Prime talents to give the Deneb mind a chance to defeat the aliens.  After the crisis is over, the mind of Deneb in the form of Jeff Raven appears, and thanks to the intense merger discovers that he and the Rowan are in love.  The two of them spend time together, but the Rowans inability to travel makes their new love difficult.  Jeff Raven heads back to Deneb and the Rowan resumes work.  the Rowan is devastated when she loses contact with Jeff and learning he has been gravely injured transports herself to Deneb to nurse him back to health.  Jeff eventually heals and he and the Rowan are officially a pair.  Jeff signs on the the FT&T which is the impartial and neutral company that employs the Primes and pretty much controls all the instantaneous transport within the scope of humanity.  The last part of the book follows the Rowan and Jeff as they start their family and cope with the new responsibilities given to them by FT&T.  This culminates in a son with a second child on the way for the happy couple.  the Rowan and her female talents start to feel a malevolent presence that turns out to be the same aliens that had attacked before, but with infinantly more power. The Rowan merges with all the other female talents and Jeff merges with all the male kinetics and hopefully ends the alien threat for once and for all.  The book ends with Jeff and the Rowan  continuing to build their family and the FT&T finally carving a life for themselves.
World Building - I feel one of the authors strengths is world building.  The universe in which this story is set is detailed and complete.  It is set in a future Earth era where humans have expanded into space.  The FT&T and Talent set up is pretty well explained and very consistent through out the whole book.  This is one of those worlds that stays with you long after you have finished the book.  It is also one you feel infinite stories can be told in.    I found it interesting that for the purposes of this series, it was a private company and in some ways economics that was the focus of this universe.  That being said, the author was good at keeping the setting aligned with the other parts of the book.

Story - The story was fairly cohesive, following the main character through several stages of her life.  While the Rowan, Jeff and the aliens provided a thread to follow, the story was more episodic then flowing, more a series of short glimpses to make a whole then a beginning to end story. This worked for this book, setting up a universe and characters more then any over all story.  It kept me engaged from beginning to end and lived up to it's premise.

Characters - I found in this book, that along with the world building, characters were a very strong point in this book.  The characters where varied. well written and well fleshed out.  They interacted with each other in meaningful ways and every character introduced had a purpose.  My favorites were Jeff's mother Isthia of the ear, Elizara the insanely talented medic and both Ackerman and Gerolaman the stationmasters all of whom had great senses of humor.  I did feel that the Rowan had a bit of the special snowflake syndrome, being the bestest ever at being a Prime, but felt it was tempered by the hardships and personal issues she had to endure.

Editing - The book was divided into four parts, and at times it felt like four separate stories strung together.  There was a bit of choppiness and disparities between the parts as well that sometimes took me out of the world to say to myself "um that is not what was said/happened in the last part".  Part of this is the fact that the middle part of the book started as a completed short story and that the rest of the book was built around that.  Overall though the pacing and flow of the book was very good.

Talents - I love love love the concept and execution of the talents in this future universe.  The author introduced the concept and followed through with it in a very scientific, yet understandable way.  She then continued to be consistant and varied with the various types, strengths and combinations a person could have.  She also made sure to have a structured environment where a talent can and would thrive, be useful and be accepted as a valuable member of society.  It would be very easy for the author to make a book about the "normal" people vs. the "talented" people, but instead she integrated them into a economic society.  I just really love the concept and execution of the concept.
The Love Story - Sooo... not really a fan of how Jeff just happened to appear and be a perfect match for the Rowan right when she was feeling the most lonely.  I guess I understand that if you merged your whole mind with somebody you would know pretty quickly if you loved them or not...but it still seemed pretty convenient.  I also was not a fan of the proprietary bossing around of the Rowan, especially when she was pregnant by Jeff, and also a few other's, but mostly Jeff.  It felt like since he loved her, he felt he could control her when he felt it was in her best interest.  On the plus side, the Rowan usually fought back against the imposed restrictions and overall Jeff loved and appreciated the Rowan for exactly who she was.

Personal Interactions - One of my favorite parts about this book, and the author in general is how the characters interact with each other.  The book has many characters and they all play a role with their own personalities, likes and dislikes.  Not one character is perfect, they all have their positives and negatives and they all deal with each other on different levels.  Watching these interactions gives an authenticity to the book that is phenomenal and really elevates it above a lot of other books.  It is nice to see an author have a grasp on true human interactions and work them so well into the book.

Complete Randomness - I just want to say I love the original cover of this book (the first pic on the post) the colors themselves just make me happy.  Also I have an old school paperback version of the book and it smells incredible!!!  So yeah...

Overall Impression - I love this book.  It definitely has it's flaws, but I go back to this story over and over again.  It is one of those that get's in my brain and stays there.  I feel this is mostly due to the amazing universe the author has created.  This is a great start to a great series and I will continually go back to it as both a nostalgia piece and just a good book.  I recommend it to anybody who wants to read incredible world building, sci fi with a more domestic bent or just really loves Anne McCaffrey.

Score - I give this book 8 out of 10 pukah's

That is today's rambling...not to bad considering I've taken care of and transported close to a ton of human flesh this week.  Happy Reading Everybody!!!!

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