Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi novella eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
sea change (Nancy Kress)
Title: sea change
Authors: Nancy Kress
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: TODAY!! (paperback & e-book)
One of the things I have come to appreciate about Nancy Kress’ work is that it always be thought provoking. The concepts are interesting and led to some fun conversations with me First Mate. As a conversation starter, I really enjoyed it. As an entertainment it wasn’t so effective.
Though the title is sea change, the real issue behind this novella is GMO crops. The story postulates what would happen if a GMO pharmaceutical product caused child deaths and the response from the world was to ban all GMO products. This choice seemed odd because the product was a drug and not a food. Yet the focus of the GMO fight is bringing back GMO crops to handle the food shortages caused by climate change of weather patterns.
The book felt like the author was trying to bash ye over the head with how GMO crops are necessary. Part of the issue is because there is an underground resistance trying to engineer them. The main character, Renata, is a member of this organization. And I didn’t like her. She was abrasive, kinda naive, and fanatical. As a crusader, she seemed to latch onto her causes with no real discernment. She doesn’t know what the end goal of her organization is, how it is really structured, or who is involved. Safety first, supposedly. Sure they are trying to create new cultivars but beyond that, what? I would want to know the big picture. Renata just wants to believe that she is participating in a good cause and feel better. I sympathized a bit but still thought she was ridiculous.
The story also had a problem because of the mix of science diatribe and interpersonal drama. There is a subplot dealing with her ex-husband that wasn’t poorly written but could have been removed all together. The past and present are showcased in alternating timelines. I think the story would have been much more powerful taking place only in the present. That said, I actually liked the past sections better and they held me attention more satisfactorily.
The present sections left too many unanswered questions. For example there be a self-driving house. Why? Only one color of paint left. Why? How is the food system run now? How do the poor live? How is the economy actually structured after the Catastrophe? In the other books I have read, it seemed as though Kress had really delved into the ramifications of changes to society across the board.
While I thought the writing itself wasn’t bad, the plot did not work for me. I ended up not caring about any of the characters or the plot itself. It just left me confused overall and unsatisfied. Maybe this would have worked better as a longer novel but I have to admit that I don’t want to particularly hear anymore GMO soapboxing regardless of me underlying interest in the topic.
Still enjoyed some of the intellectual ideas and projections but not enough to reread this book or necessarily recommend it.
So lastly . . .
Thank you Tachyon Publications!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the book:
Renata Black is entertained by the traffic snarl caused by a rogue self-driving house–until she spots the Org’s Tiffany Teal paint marking the house’s windowsill.
In 2022, GMOs were banned after a biopharmed drug caused the Catastrophe: worldwide economic collapse, agricultural standstill, and personal tragedy for a lawyer and her son. Ten years later, Renata, a.k.a. Caroline Denton, is an operative of the Org, an underground group that could save the world from itself. Their illegal research is performed and protected by splinter cells, which are hunted by the feds.
Now a mole is in the Org. Who would put the entire Org in jeopardy? Renata is the only one who can find out–and she will need to go to her clients in the Quinault Nation for answers.
Nancy Kress (Beggars in Spain, Yesterday’s Kin) once again delivers a smart, mesmerizing bio-thriller, with a hard, nuanced look at the perils and promise of technology.
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Previous Log Entries for this Author
tomorrow’s kin – book 1 (3 Bells – Sci-Fi)
if tomorrow comes – book 2 (3 Bells – Sci-Fi)
terran tomorrow – book 3 (3 Bells On the Horizon – Sci-Fi eArc)
beggars in spain (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi)