miércoles, 12 de octubre de 2016

OTW Challenge: UNCHARTED TERRITORY, by Connie Willis

Interesting. It had the core of a romance story but it wasn’t developed.

Published: 1994
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 2 stars

So this challenge needs a romance story set in another planet. So, after some time unlucky with the things I choose I said with this one I cannot be wrong. If it’s titled ‘Uncharted territory’ for sure it will not be set on planet Earth.

But what about the second point? Is this a romance novel? No. It has a love story, you see it, but so underdeveloped that the book ends even before they have even said ‘I like you’. You just have to imagine everything.

It’s a short story, 160 pages. Findriddy and Carson are planetary surveyors that are mapping the planet Boohte. With them works a helicopter pilot called C. J., who looks to be permanently horny and Bult, a local alien. They have a visitor, Evelyn, a scientist who studies the mating customs of different species.

The story is told in first person narrative by Fin, a character you are not sure if it’s female or male for a while.

As the surveyors of new planets have got to be politically correct, nearly anything Fin and Carson do makes Bult give them penalties. They have to respect the flora and fauna, and the soil –they cannot leave footprints- and the water –the surface cannot be rippled-, respect the locals and don’t make Terracentric assumptions and comments etc. This is very funny the first time you read it. All that part about the red-tape involved in planetary exploration is satirical and very recognizable for anyone who has to work with bureaucrats.  But then you keep on reading and the fines keep on coming and in the end is quite irritating, as you see that it is not a very efficient way of investigating anything.

The same happens with Evelyn and his description of different mating customs. Some of them were known to me as Ethology is something I’ve read about. But talking about it all the time? It became boring in the end. And when they arrive to the Homo sapiens, the way the courtship rituals are described sounded quite sexist.

Part of the humour in this story comes from trying to name things. They have to use the name the locals give to things, animals, plants or landforms. But then, if there’s none, you have to name it but not from a Terracentric point of view. Quite a tricky task.

The world building is great, I have to recognize that. And also that there was a very powerful love story here that comes out of the blue but then you see that’s been there all the time. Only, it’s so underdeveloped that made me want to cry. There’s only the emotional and sexual tension and nothing else. As if you were reading the first two chapters of a romance novel when you –the reader- know they like each other, but they don’t. So in the end, it was a very frustrating reading.

This is the first Connie Willis book I read. I guess I have to try ‘Doomsday Book’ and ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ to know her at her best.

Why did I think this was a science-fiction romance novel? Well, because I read this review in All About Romance that gave it a DIK A- grade.

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