PaperBackSwap Blog

Fantasy Friday – Carnival

Carnival by Elizabeth Bear

Review written by Bowden P. (Trey)
That was a fun and challenging read. Its about two Old Earth Cabinet Coalition (OECC) diplomats sent to the matriarchal and feminist world of New Amazonia, seeking their apparently limitless supply of energy. To make it more complicated, Earth and its two dozen odd colony worlds, are ruled by the Governors, AIs that wiped out 90%+ of humanity, almost all of the Western developed world (so anglos are rare and forcibly maintain an ecological balance (on Earth this means a population of 50 million forcibly confined to cities). Adding to this, the two protagonists Vincent Katherinessen and Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones are gay, something that is not done in the OECC, and resulted in their exile from each other nearly two decades ago. Ostensibly, they are on New Amazonia to retrieve human art and artifacts thought lost during the Governor’s purges of humanity.

Then there is the plot. Whose got the McGuffin? In this case, the limitless energy. The government of New Amazonia does. And it wants to keep it, but in the face of the OECC would like to keep and not become another colony world. Thus a delicate balancing act of family, clan and political alliances begins. This is further complicated by New Amazonian extremists and the remnants of an ‘extinct’ race. I use quotes because its not entirely clear what happened to them…

I liked it – 3½ stars. Yes it stretched me, as hetero as I am I liked Vincent and Michelangelo. They were nice, sympathetic and pretty cool.

Likes: Being stretched in viewpoint characters that I’m not necessarily comfortable with, but sympathetic to their goals and personalities; Conspiracy, conspiracy, which conspiracy are we with again? I’m not sure I liked this, but it did add some interesting pieces to this and did not turn into an idiot plot because of it; Neat social design with New Amazonia. On the read I gave it, it made sense; The fate of Earth and the Governors. That would be a story to tell; The utility fog wardrobes and what uses they could be put to. I’m not sure that they weren’t Drexlerian nanotech (i.e.: nano-magic), but they sure were fun.

Dislikes: Occasional idiocies from the New Amazonians; Idiocies from the OECC government; Deus ex machina resolution (Rot 13’d for your protection: Gur nyvraf ner fgvyy gurer – gurl hcybnqrq gurzfryirf vagb fhofgengr pbzchgref naq ner bayl abj abgvpvat gur abfl uhznaf. Juvpu yrnqf gb bar qrpvqvat gb snpr qbja gur tbireabef arngyl erfbyivat gurz naq gur guerng bs naarkngvba.)

Suggested for fans of Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette and gay heroes. Or any SF fan that wants to stretch their comfort zone.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply