Acts of Conscience

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Overview

When space construction worker Gaetan du Cheyne visits the planet Green Heaven, he discovers a fascinating ecosystem whose intelligent life forms are being hunted for sport and exported as slaves by human colonists. Now du Cheyne must follow his conscience and try to rescue the natives of Green Heaven--or die trying.
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Overview

When space construction worker Gaetan du Cheyne visits the planet Green Heaven, he discovers a fascinating ecosystem whose intelligent life forms are being hunted for sport and exported as slaves by human colonists. Now du Cheyne must follow his conscience and try to rescue the natives of Green Heaven--or die trying.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With insight and intelligence, Barton (When Heaven Fell) describes a series of moral dilemmas with no easy solutions confronting Gaetan du Cheyne, his bored, troubled 26th-century protagonist. The fortuitous beneficiary of a stockmarket power play, du Cheyne becomes the proud owner of a faster-than-light prototype spaceship with which he plans to explore the starry skies. Wisely, however, Barton resists the urge to turn this into another celestial picaresque, creating instead a deeply disturbing tale of a young man whose past troubles stand in the way of his ability to know or do what is right. In fact, in spite of the spaceship device, Gaetan's journey is a psychological, not a physical one. The ethical challenges he faces all occur on the ironically named world of Green Heaven, where he must decide what, if anything, to do about the systematic destruction of the planet's intelligent species and his discovery of another species' own plans for humanity. There is an intense and intensely pleasurable display of erudition, writerly tact and hard psychological realism as du Cheyne confronts difficult questions about exploitation and survival, evolutionary reality and moral righteousness. There are no obvious answers, but there is a fascinating work of science fiction that easily rises above the stock-in-trade. (Jan.)
VOYA - Catherine M. Dwyer
Gaeten du Cheyne is a mechanic in the twenty-sixth century. Due to a rapid change in the stocks he owns, Gaeten is able to purchase a prototype faster-than-light spaceship, which enables him to travel to far-off worlds that he has always wanted to see. However, these are not the pleasurable travels he had anticipated. Instead, Gaeten comes face to face with the destruction humans have wrought, not only upon other ecosystems but also upon the beings that inhabit these worlds. While on Green Heaven, he realizes that humans are not the most powerful beings in the universe and that we are about to become victims of the same fate we have caused in our colonies. As a down-on-his-luck mechanic thrust into the role of savior, Gaeten is appealing. However, his obsession with sex and his tendency to view all females as sex objects gets old quickly. Barton has masterfully combined hard-core science fiction with a fairly standard rescue plot. Young adults who have enjoyed Barton's other novels will not be disappointed. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
Gaetan du Cheyne, an orbital mechanic, makes a killing on the stock market, gets fired, buys a new faster-than-light ship, and goes out to explore the galaxy. At his first stop on the planet Green Heaven, Gaetan finds several sentient species being hunted for sport, captured for prostitution, and sold into slavery. Disgusted, he decides to help them escape. This powerful, complex anthropological tale mixes hard science with erotica. Recommended for sf collections.
York Times New
An engageing tale.
Kirkus Reviews
Far-future multiple-alien drama from the author of Iris (1990, with Michael Capobianco), etc. Centuries from now, space mechanic Gaetan du Cheyne unexpectedly becomes the owner of a new faster- than-light spaceship. He speeds off to planet Green Heaven, a beautiful world whose colonists resemble unreconstructed Boers who care nothing for the planet's spectacular wildlife except how to exploit it. Gaetan, a loner unable to relate meaningfully to women, saves an alien Kapellmeister from being beaten to death by local thugs. Later, touring the planet in his new friend's company (Kapellmeisters, an ancient highly advanced race, have no names), Gaetan experiences the ruthlessness with which the humans treat the intelligent wolfen (captured and made to fight), dollies (used as irresistible sexual toys, they're symbiotically involved with the wolfen), and womfrogs (slaughtered for sport). Unsuspecting humanity's problem, as Gaetan slowly realizes, is that a powerful Kapellmeister faction feels that humanity would be better wiped out altogether.

After a slow start, you'll have to grapple with a protagonist who radiates little warmth; nevertheless, with its intelligent speculations, intriguing scenario, and thoughtfully fashioned aliens, this consciousness-raiser clamps on and won't let go.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446605113
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.87 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2001

    Among the most significant books of the past decade

    Acts of Conscience is a book of significant depth. A high tech future is portrayed in a grittily believable manner, yet not dwelled upon as such, but rather acting as a well-textured background for the character development and plot. Barton delves into the contradictions of the male psychology of the protagonist, simultaneously heroic and twisted, driven by hormones and generally good intentions, coping with the world in which he finds himself. It reads like a private autobiography somehow snatched from a very real person in a very real future. Wow.

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