A daring and original new novel from one of sci fi's most provocative voices, Natural History is a stunning work of bold ideas, unforgettable characters, and epic adventure as one woman seeks to explore what may be the greatest mystery of all....IMAGINE A WORLD...Half-human, half-machine, Voyager Isol was as beautiful as a coiled scorpion-and just as dangerous. Her claim that she'd found a distant but habitable earthlike planet was welcome news to the rest of the Forged. But it could mean the end of what was left of the humanity who'd created and once enslaved them.IMAGINE A FATE...It was on behalf of the "unevolved" humans that Professor Zephyr Duquesne, cultural archaeologist and historian of Earth's lost worlds, was chosen by the Gaiasol military authority to uncover the truth about this second "earth." And her voyage, traveling inside the body of Isol, will take her to the center of a storm exploding across a spectrum of space and time, dimension and consciousness.
- Philip K. Dick Award
In Robson's U.S. debut, a thought-provoking SF stand-alone, the British author of Sliver Screen and Mappa Mundi revisits the disquieting territory of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. Advances in genetic engineering have created the Forged, human/machine hybrids that carry out tasks too mundane or too dangerous for the Unevolved, as non-Forged humans are called. Soon after a Forged explorer, Voyager Lonestar Isol, returns from a 15-year trip with the Stuff (a sentient chunk of gray quartz capable of instantly transporting her anywhere), Isol announces that she's found an empty Earth-like planet in a distant star system. By claiming it as a home world, the Forged can finally break from the resented Gaiasol, the political entity that rules Earth's solar system, and become what they were meant to be. While many dream of moving out, others suspect that the Stuff's offer is too good to be true. Archeologist Zephyr Duquesnse, commissioned to study the proposed home world and make sure it's truly free of life, finds no easy answers. Fans of the sweeping, politically and psychologically aware space opera of Iain M. Banks and Ken MacLeod will be intrigued by Robson's setting and the new slant she takes on universal questions. Agent, Merilee Heifetz at Writers House. (Jan. 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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November 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Natural History by Justina Robson
LOVE SONG (SMELT)
When I say 'you' in my poems, I mean you.
I know it ' s weird: we barely met.
You must hear this all the time, being you.
That night we were at opposite ends of
the long table, after the pungent
Russian condiments, the carafes of tarragon vodka,
the chafing dishes full of boiled smelts
I was a little drunk: after you left,
I ate the last smelt off your dirty plate.
There is one mind in all of us, one soul,
who parches the soil in some nations
but in others hides perpetually behind a veil;
he spills light everywhere, here he spilled
some on my tie, but it dried before dinner ended.
He is in charge of darkness also, also
in charge of crime, in charge of the imagination.
People fucking flick him off and on,
off and on, with their eyelids as they ascertain
with their eyes their love ' s sincerity.
He makes the stars disappear, but he makes
small stars everywhere, on the hoods of cars,
in the compound eyes of skyscrapers or in the eyes
of sighing lovers bored with one another.