on March 26, 2001
I picked this one up because I needed commute reading. Over-all, it's unobjectionable, a fast read. It's not memorable and if you've read as much SF as I have, it was predictable. So what? It did its job, and the story was fun.
There were a couple things I thought could have been better. We have a lost colony plunked down on a "teaching" world that can't seem to make contact with the colonists. I don't find that convincing on its face, but I let it ride. I object more seriously to the ending, which I won't give away, though you can probably guess it. Moscoe ducked the serious issue of co-existence with true machine intelligence. That, by the way, is fair enough. If what you want to write is entertainment, then you don't need to get into the whole messy issue of what sentience is, and how do you deal with the other.
Moscoe comes down on the "Can't we all just get along?" end of the spectrum. The main characters started out on different sides and finished close friends. No one is a goody-two-shoes, but when a character is portrayed as a seriously bad person, the driving force behind that personality (utter selfishness) is well potrayed and consistent. There are the usual clueless civilians, which I found tiresome, but hey. Most military types view civilians as easiest to protect by ensuring they never get close to the action.
There was a fault of diction that drove me bats. Moscoe, at least twice, uses "disburse" for "disperse." Anyone who doesn't understand the different roots of these two words should see me after class...well, no. Let me explain. Disperse comes from the Latin "dispersus", which comes from particle dis + spargere "to strew." Thus, English disperse, meaning "to scatter" in its briefest definition. Got that?
Disburse comes from Old French, composed of the Latin particle dis + Old French bourse, which means purse in the sense of "where you keep your money." So we arrive at English "disburse", meaning "to pay out."
They are nowhere near being the same word, and it made me squawk. May a decently educated reader ask who is proof-reading this stuff? There was other stuff, but the disburse for disperse was egregious!
Anyway, as I said, harmless. Read it in paper, and then sell it.