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Pock's World by Dave Duncan
Cover Artist: Doug Levitt
Review by Mel Jacob
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781894063470
Date: 15 October 2010 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Artist's Website / Show Official Info /

Prolific Canadian author Dave Duncan provides an interesting view of people and landscapes in Pock's World. Some aspects resemble human adaptations of Paul McAuley's The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun. Duncan adds his own touch with super intelligent aliens created from human genomes. Because of one discovered on Pock's World, the galaxy space agency, STARS, plans to sterilize the planet and kill all the people on it to stop the aliens polluting the galaxy.

STARS selects a blue ribbon commission of five people to decide the fate of Pock's World. Chosen are a politician (Athena Frimble), a businessman (Linn Lazuline), an elderly Catholic priest (Father Andre), a nosy reporter (Ratty Turnsole), and a sector bureaucrat (Millie Backett). They have five days to verify the existence of the alien and condemn the world and all its inhabitants.

Father Andre has no hesitation.; if the alien exists, it must be destroyed even if that includes destroying all the people on Pock's World. He follows the Church's teaching that genetic manipulation is an anathema to God. The others want to be convinced.

Backett tries to take over leadership of the commission, but the others ignore her. Ratty decides to investigate on his own and meets Joy, one of the incarnations of Monody, the spiritual leader of the planet. Four women comprise Monody, Wisdom, Duty (the reigning incarnation), Love (Joy's mother and next ruler), and Joy (the budding teenager). The worldly, jaded Ratty character presents interesting contrasts and some might question his ultimate choice.

Linn has known Athena since childhood and harbors the ambition of eventually bedding her. So far, he has failed, but sees another chance on Pock's World. Politician Athena Frimble comes across as almost too perfect bodily and morally while Linn Lazuline appears the stereotypical wealthy businessman. He has offered her money to finance her presidential ambitions. His maneuvering reminds one of the bargain in Indecent Proposal or even Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca.

Pock's World carries echoes of other stories as noted above. The moral and ethical questions posed are important. The story moves along as events unfold and races to an exciting conclusion.

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