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Delan the Mislaid

de Laurie J. Marks

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
732286,281 (3.46)21
  1. 10
    The Cloud Roads de Martha Wells (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Fantasy worlds without humans, both featuring outcast winged characters- some similar themes, though the settings and plots are actually quite different.
  2. 10
    Watchtower de Elizabeth A. Lynn (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: Both are a quieter kind of fantasy, with a focus on the personal and social rather than epic, and some understated explorations of gender themes.
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I had high hopes for this one, since I love Marks' more recent series (the Logic books), but I gave it up after about 65 pages. It just didn't hold my attention or make me want to keep reading. ( )
  elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
I stumbled across Delan the Mislaid by Laurie J. Marks while rummaging through my mom's boxes of books in the garage. It looked moderately interesting and it was an author I'd never heard of. It blew me away, and I eventually found the sequels, The Moonbane Mage and Ara's Field. The entire trilogy is a meditation on bigotry, genocide, and coexistence, full of wonderful dialogue and characters and great insights. I think it is overall brilliant, though I like the first book better than the follow-ups.

It also violates the principle I once heard expressed long ago that it is the human perspective on the alien that makes the science fiction story meaningful. Something along the lines of readers can't connect with something truly alien and they can't grasp how alien it is without the contrast to humanity in the story. I have also heard the same argument with respect to landscape photography, that the clues of human presence are necessary for the image's tension and beauty. I think Ansel Adams is a quite effective rebuttal to this viewpoint. Certainly, things like Pride of Chanur and the Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh, Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle, and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin are effective exactly because of the solitary human narrator immersed in a humanoid society. But in each of those cases, those humanoids are so close to human in so many ways, that the differences become quite unsettling and more difficult to comprehend than something completely alien would be. And certainly, by the end of the Chanur series (Chanur's Legacy), the human has been dispensed with entirely, except for imaginary internal dialogues by the hani protagonist.

So this trilogy has no humans at all. Instead, it is about three or more sentient races coexisting on the same planet. The walkers are farmers and generally very pragmatic and unimaginative, concerned with the daily business of living; there are many races of walkers and two sexes; they're afraid of heights, can see well in dim lighting, are sexually mature by age 13 or so, mostly hibernate in the winter, and have spread rapidly across the continent. The Aeyries used to be gatherers, until the Walker expansion began claiming all of the territory, so now they are largely the inventors, producing advance in technology that they trade with the Walkers for food and supplies. The Aeyries can fly, are hermaphrodites, are afraid of water and flat ground, can see well in bright light, are active year-round, and are sexually mature around 19 or so. The Mers are telepathic, have two sexes, no language, and live in the sea in migratory herds. Both Aeyries and Walkers lay eggs and breast feed, the Mers have live births.

The protagonist in the first book is Delan who grew up in a remote, primitive Walker community. The story begins when Teksan the Walker appears and takes Delan, who is 18 or 19, back with him to his town. On the journey, Delan meets Eia, an Aeyrie. Delan eventually learns that he himself is an Aeyrie and that Teksan plans to use him to access and wipe out the three remaining Aeyrie communities.

Along the way we are introduced to the Triad, an intentional community of Aeyries and Walkers who are trying to overcome their profound differences and prejudices. The community began when Lian, a Walker female, found Pilgrim, a Mer female, injured on the beach. Pilgrim in her pain had been driven away from the herd and ultimately became telepathically bonded with Lian, who contacted the Aeyries to find someone who could create a place where the terrestrial/marine partners could be together. The Triad meets hostility from both Walkers and Aeyries, but steps in to address this crisis that threatens the continued existence of the Aeyries. Delan is also aided by Orchth, who has six legs and two arms and is completely nocturnal. His people apparently live on another continent, and he was captured by sailors many years ago.

As I said, I think the story is wonderful. The characters are engaging, the societies and languages and biologies are well thought out and explained with a minimum of exposition, and the prose is straightforward. It explores several different themes, including identity, basic human rights, artistic vision, love, the nature of magic, social change, and individual and community responsibility. ( )
3 vota justchris | Sep 16, 2009 |
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