SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1584 Marseguro, by Edward Willett Book Review |

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Marseguro, by Edward Willett
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 9/17/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Marseguro, by Edward Willett

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

I've just finished Marseguro, the first book in The Helix War by Edward Willett. This book, along with the second Terra Insegura, have been released more recently in an omnibus edition by DAW called The Helix War, so if you're looking for it, look for the omnibus edition.

The main premise is that, fifty years ago, Earth was threatened with destruction by a massive meteor. This caused a radical shift in religions, and when the meteorite is hit by another meteor shortly before impact with Earth, a new religion called the Body Purified rises to power, claiming that because of their efforts to "purify" the Earth of all of the genetically modified life we've created--including genetically modified humans--God Itself saved them. During the religious wars, with the Body Purified slaughtering everyone genetically modified they could find, Victor Hansen, a geneticist, packed himself and his modified humans called Selkies into a ship and vanished.

He landed on a planet the Selkies and non-modified humans in his ship call Marseguro. They've lived there for fifty years, undetected by the Body Purified, who have solidified their power on Earth . . . but have not stopped looking for Victor Hansen. In fact, they've created clones of Victor in an attempt to figure out where he went with his monstrous Selkie creations. The current clone, Richard, and the gene-bomb placed in his DNA that will give him Victor Hansen's memories, is searching for them and has narrowed the field down to a particular section of space. It might take decades to find what planet Victor Hansen and the Selkies fled to . . . except that a few of the non-modified members of Victor's crew believed in the Body Purified, and one of them, Chris Keating, has been pushed far enough by the Selkies that he activates a distress call from Victor's original ship, leading the Body Purified directly to them.

The rest of the novel deals with the fallout of that setup. Can those on Marseguro protect themselves from the Body Purified's attempt to "purify" their planet of all genetically modified humans? They've only had fifty years to survive and attempt to settle the world, so have almost no weapons, but the Selkies can breath underwater and they certainly haven't been idle. Yet they have no idea that the Body Purified is on the way.

I don't read a lot of science fiction, but I liked the setup of Marseguro and, more importantly, liked the characters in the book. Most SF that I've read has a tendency to NOT have characterization, at least not at the same level as the fantasy novels I generally read, so I was pleasantly surprised in that respect. In this novel, a bunch of questions are raised about the ethics of genetic modification, whether what we create can still be considered human, etc, but I don't think the author beat us over the head with moralistic dilemmas. The book comes down pretty solidly on the side of the genetically modified humans as being . . . well, human, just like everyone else. The story focuses instead on the main characters and their struggles, to survive and to deal with unreasoning hatred.Richard has to deal with who he is--is he Richard, or is he just Victor Hansen?--while Emily Wood, a Selkie, is forced to grow up rather fast when the Body Purified arrives. Emily's mother, a geneticist, must face the consequences of the genetic battle--is it good or evil?--when she uses her skills in Marseguro's defense.

So, I thought the story, the setting, and the characters were all interesting. They certainly kept me reading. I've already started the second book, Terra Insegura. There were a few less believable factors in setting up the premise--such as a second meteor showing up in the nick of time to save humanity, plus a few other things--but none of those had major impacts on the plot and could be easily overlooked (at least by me). The story and characters themselves were solid and entertaining.

A word of caution though: This is NOT what I'd consider a military SF novel. It's science fiction, but there is little actual "battle" in the military SF sense and it's not hard SF either. Keep that in mind if you pick this up.

Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
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