Saturday, September 16, 2006



James Alan Gardner

  —   $6.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

In Gardner's first novel, humans do their best to explore new worlds where anything can be deadly. Unfortunately, "anything can be deadly" usually equates to someone dying - and they noticed that crews would become incapacitated when popular peole died. Their solution? Make sure that unpopular people died - and by unpopular, they mean "hard to love" or, more specifically, disfigured. Intelligent children with birth defects are tapped to be Explorers, trained to obtain data on unknown worlds - and, incidentally, prevented from receiving medical solutions to their all-too-fixable problems. They are, of course, intelligent enough to realize what this means, and call themselves Expendable Crew Members.

No one said the future would be nice.

Festina Ramos is an Explorer, a lady with a large dark birthmark on her face. She is partnered with a man with part of his jaw missing, and in the oh-so-enlightened space cruiser that they work from, they are largely ignored. When a crazy admiral is assigned to their party and the three of them are sent down to a planet from which no Explorer has returned, they know that they are being abandoned. But what Festina is about to learn is that the situation is far more complex than anyone realizes - because the League of Peoples would not allow humans to be sent down to the planet if the Admiralty knows it is deadly... and this planet closely resembles Earth.

The narration of this book is in little thought sections, as if Festina were writing this out for her own purposes (and with more than a little ironic humor.) It is a very quick read thereby.

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