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Tropic of Creation [Mass Market Paperback]

Kay Kenyon
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 31 2000
In the bloody war that ended between Th Congress Worlds and the alien ahtra, Captain Eli Dammond had distinguished himself as an officer who could no wrong--until his last catastrophic battle.  Now, with his shining reputation tarnished, the commander finds himself assigned to a grimy kettle of a ship making basic transport missions.  Routine work -until he arrives on Null: a barren, scorned world at the mercy of two suns.  Here, a marooned human outpost  has survived for three years until their rescue by Eli's ship.  But on this austere planet, the human newcomers are about to learn a harsh lesson: that nothing is quite as it seems.  For soon a new season will call forth a hidden ecology both exquisite and deadly.  And Null will test the survivors in a fight no soldier was ever trained for, and few can predict - while a young the survivors in a fight no soldier was trained for, and few predict - while a young woman of privilege may well prove to be their finest warrior.

Yet for Eli Dammond, the worst struggle will unfold below the surface.  There he will discover a threat to all the settle human worlds, even as he matches wits an adversary both familiar and alien.  The odds are against human survival on null's surface or indeed, in the galaxy-- unless Eli succeeds in bringing home the hard-won secret that neither human nor ahtra can hear.

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From Publishers Weekly

In this subtle though engrossing novel by the author of The Seeds of Time, a seemingly deserted planet morphs into a jungle filled with predators and secrets. During an uneasy peace following a long war against the only other known sentient race, the ahtra, Captain Eli Dammond diverts his ship from its primary missionDto transport a general's familyDin response to an SOS from a barren planet. Upon landing, Dammond finds the captain and crew of a stranded military craft that has been missing for three years, and Dammond must investigate the crash to determine if the captain and her crew were deserters. Having found an empty burrowing craft, Dammond explores below the surface. There he is captured and drawn deeper into the previously unknown subterranean homeworld of the ahtra, while above ground the stage is set for a new attack by the ahtra forces on the small band of unsuspecting humans. The author deftly interweaves the viewpoints of Drammond and two ahtra ill at ease in their repressive society with that of 14-year-old Sascha, coming of age on the planet's surface as the heavily outmatched humans battle for survival. Kenyon's vision of a unique universe ranks with those of such science-fiction greats as Frank Herbert and Orson Scott Card. Kenyon should prepare herself: readers will anxiously anticipate a sequel. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Kenyon's vision of a unique universe ranks with those of such science-fiction greats as Frank Herbert and Orson Scott Card. Kenyon should prepare herself: readers will anxiously anticipate a sequel.

"A rich weaving of science, politics, and mysticism.  A believable memorable story."
-- Brian Herbert, co-author of Dune: House Harkonnen

"More that Kay Kenyon is a major talent."
-- Mike Resnick

Also by Kay Kenyon

The Seeds of Time
Leap Point
Rift

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A possible series July 6 2001
By Steve
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I got this book based on the excellent reviews. I've read Kenyon's 'The Seeds of Time' and found it fairly entertaining. I was very disappointed with this book. The character development was adequate. The book description makes it sound very exciting and profound. It was none of these although it could have been. The major revelation is glossed over and a reader can almost miss it. The plot deals mainly with the aliens' political intrigues that are almost too human. Why they do what they do seems to make no sense. The girl is secondary to the story and certainly no warrior as the book description portrays. She manages to stay alive on a world where everything seems to eat everything else. Harry Harrison's 'Deathworld' comes to mind. The overall problem seems to be that events in the book unfold without any background. It's almost as if the reader is expected to know what happened to cause the events lending up to the climax. There are several stories and plotlines occurring in this book that really need several books to cover adequately. It's almost as if this book is a synopsis of a whole series. As a result this is a book with huge possibilities that falls flat due to lack of content.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get much better than this! May 20 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am obliged to give one of my very rare 5-star reviews to Kay Kenyon for a deep, complex, exciting and most satisfying novel.
In this tale, failing starship Captain Eli Dammond finds himself on the desert planet Null where his responsibility is to investigate to wreck of another ship and to transport its crew to safety. Although everybody is anxious to get the job done and to leave the inhospitable world, Eli feels that it is imperative for him to spend his last moments there making a quick exploration below the surface of Null in one of the many alien hexadron boring machines found on the surface.
Thus begins a wonderfully told and realized adventure of Eli's meeting with the ancient subterranean race of Ahtra. The story is so masterfully told that we can clearly visualize and comprehend the complex alien culture, and understand their motivations in dealing with the problematic stranger in their midst.
While the story underground is evolving, life on the surface of Null is changing rapidly and catastrophically for the remaining humans. The planet has its own bioligical imperitives at work, and human life is not a high priority.
In spite of the dark events that drive this story or, perhaps, because of them, the resolution of this gripping tale is uplifting and hopeful. A fitting conclusion to a wonderful adventure.
I highly recommend Tropic Of Creation, and I anxiously await the next fine work by Kay Kenyon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A new master of science fiction Feb. 19 2001
By BGS
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Kay Kenyon has written her best story so far. This one has none of the cheesy flavor of Raft (not to say it was bad, just a standard space opera, even if saved by its aliens) nor anti-science of Seeds of Time (which is excellent if you accept unrealistic time travel speculations). But it's not just plausibility of the plot that makes Tropic of Creation great. Kay Kenyon is an author who always fully develops characters of living depth, be that humans or aliens, without sacrificing the larger view of the story's world. Both of these aspects are shining brilliantly in this book.
The story is set during an armistice between the human and alien races. The humans have been beat by the older and more technologically advanced aliens and had to back off a strategic resource, surrendering all the trading rights. A transport ship is sent to rescue the survivors of a battleship marooned for three years on a desert world due to the system failures. During the investigation of the battleship's condition a number of alien machines are discovered, which eventually leads to the new contact, understanding and collaboration between the two races.
The elaborate beginning that sets up the world of the story may seem a bit slow to an impatient reader, but once the stage is set it explodes. At times the book resembles a horror story, one of the best I've read at that. But it's not gore for the sake of itself, everything is tied to the main plot and builds it from the solid foundation up. But not to a single climax, for the story is so complex and multipathed, as well as fast paced, that the excitment stays high throughout and the climaxes are many.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Alien Political Intrigue and Culture Clash Dec 9 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A totally satisfying read -- Kenyon creates a complex alien culture, very much like a caste society, and their uneasy truce with humankind. The clash of cultures between human and ahtra is well drawn by the author. Having fought each other from space ships, both human and ahtra have much to learn from close contact.
The politics of the ahtra society are presented in an intriguing manner and are central to the plot. There is a lot going on and by the end it all ties together very well. The characters are sympathetic and Kenyon writes in a very concise style, conveying a lot of action, description or meaning in a short paragraph or two.
This is the 2nd work of Kenyon's that I've had the pleasure to read ("Maximun Ice" being the first) and I look forward to my next.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This is fantasy, not science fiction
If you can accept a jungle full of monsters replacing a desert at the start of the rainy season, this may be the book for you. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Harvey A. Lewis
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, interesting take on environmental changes
Though I agree that this book was a bit slow in spots, in general it was inovative and worth the read. There were some original ideas and plenty of nice prose.
Published on Oct. 11 2001 by "ellynr"
3.0 out of 5 stars Long but good
This is a pretty good book. The science is very thorough. The prose itself is a little long and involved. The ending is a lot bland.
Published on Sept. 9 2001 by Kevin Mccarthy
5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked this one.
This is a very well crafted book that deals with complex issues in a very competent way. I enjoyed the way the characters face almost hopeless situations and cope in different... Read more
Published on Aug. 18 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Alien Mind
I loved this book. It had many of my favorite SF elements: humans meet alien race and encounter completely different worldview, customs, social structure, politics, sports, etc. Read more
Published on April 26 2001 by Brian E. Primeau
5.0 out of 5 stars Creative and Believable
As a long time sci-fi reader, most plots and situations these days are not too hard to figure out. That is until I read this book. Ms. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2001 by Brad Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard science fiction with heart
Once again, Kay Kenyon proves herself a master of worldbuilding. Her aliens, her humans, and her planet are all real, solid, fascinating, and her protagonists sympathetic. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2000
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