Thursday, November 24, 2005

Why Does No One Sneeze in Space? Martin Duffy, Mothership (County Wicklow, Ireland: Aran Books, 1992)

OK, I'm being flippant, but don't you ever wonder? Today I have a cold and reading a book in which twelve children, abandoned on a space ship, don't appear to get sick once in six years is a bit irritating....

This is an interesting book despite my irritation, It was broadcast on RTE radio in 1992 and that fact rather explains the stiffness of style. It's a rather Ben Bova-ish book: twelve children of six different races have tales of being the descendants of heroes who went to find treasure for earth. Two of them tho', Ben and the girl Han don't believe it. The stories were told by "Jones" an adult who eventually left them to "go ahead" and tell Earth to get the party ready. Han and Ben find Jones, discover he is a wreck and dangerous, discover also that they are the remnants of the cargo of a colony ship that didn't survive an asteroid strike. Without the means to mend the ship (and in the face of the hostility of the other children) Ben and Han, and their allies Faye and Luke, get into an escape ship and head for the planet that Helen Jones (Ken Jones's dead wife) thought might be marginally viable.

The book would be a bland nothing except that Duffy describes the growing tension between Ben and the larger, less bright but more charismatic Dan extremely well. Luke, who cannot stand up to Dan is depicted brilliantly and there is an emerging sexual tension between two of the children who tickle and cuddle a lot that stops just this side of sex which Duffy gets spot on--two puppies moving into adult games for which they have no reference. Jones turns out to be a drug addict, but Duffy shows it, without ever allowing the children to really understand,

The book is deeply implausible: four children cannot create a colony, but I did like the way the children were intelligent people of many different sorts.


Post a Comment

<< Home