North Wind Paperback – Apr 27 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Jones is a novelist of exotically futuristic worlds whose complex political landscapes heavily influence the scope of her plots-as in White Queen, the first winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award, to which this new novel is a highly sophisticated sequel. Here, Jones focuses on the hermaphroditic, seemingly telepathic, Aleutians, aliens who have settled on Earth. The main character is the "crippled" Aleutian Goodlooking, aka Bella, a meek librarian who discovers hidden inner strengths after being rescued by the Aleutians' human translator, Sydney Carton, from a mass execution. The story follows the pair's adventures as they escape across lands ravaged by the Gender Wars-ongoing battles that pit Traditionalists (who believe in male superiority) against various Reformers. In time, Bella becomes the focal point in a deadly race to rediscover an instantaneous transmission device. Imbued with creative extrapolations on sex, politics and immortality, this is SF at its ruminative best.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Jones' inventive twist on alien first contact, White Queen (1991), introduced the Aleutians, a quirky race of telepathic hermaphrodites scouting for a new home on Earth. Now, a hundred years after the legendary Johnny Guglioli tried to sabotage the Aleutians' orbiting sunship, Earth is in the midst of a devastating "gender" war, and the Aleutians provoke violent antialien sentiment for their misunderstood plan to aid humanity by leveling the Himalayas. Spotlighting the clash between human and alien cultures, Jones follows the intertwined fates of Bella, a crippled young Aleutian, and her human caretaker, Sydney Carton, a member of a fanatical pro-Aleutian enclave. While protecting Bella from a world increasingly hostile to her, Sydney secretly schemes with a spymaster known only as the Fat Man to locate an instantaneous travel device Johnny may have used to reach the Aleutians' sunship. Unknown to all, Bella may play the key role in retrieving the device. The quirky, complicated Aleutians represent one of the most exciting, vivid portrayals of extraterrestrial culture ever created, a stellar achievement that confirms Jones' place in the forefront of contemporary sf. Carl Hays --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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The Aleutians, whose absolute belief in reincarnation makes them immortal, at least in their own eyes, do not understand earthlings' concern with individual death, which gives them an amusingly skewed vision of war, pollution and disease.
Aleutians communicate almost telepathically through wanderers, bits of themselves which wander from one to another like lice, carrying information. Their technology is also life-based - tools created from their own cells - and they have no interest in earth technology or "dead" matter. They cannot comprehend, for instance, the earthlings attachment to the Himalayas, which the Aleutians would like to level in the interests of climate control.
The protagonists are Sidney Carton, a consciously literary fellow, who may or may not be the Aleutian ally he pretends to be, and Bella, the "isolate" Aleutian crippled among her/his own kind by a lack of wanderers and sought by all sides for reasons she does not understand. Rescued from human attack by Sidney, Bella discovers health and strength in adversity and a surprising talent for human virtual reality games.
The book's adventures through war-torn cities and cultural factions are at times confusing - Jones makes it purposely difficult to determine the sides, and their search for the secret human discovery of faster-than-light travel seems an afterthought - but Jones' vision of alien culture keeps its quirky allure, being both thought-provoking and humorous.