Child of Venus

Child of Venus

by Pamela Sargent

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Though the terraforming of Venus began centuries ago, the planet is still not habitable. After generations of hard work, a growing enclave of malcontents are becoming dangerously impatient, threatening the planet's peace. Devastation paralyzed this world before—a conflict that produced Mahala Liangharad, a true child of Venus conceived from the rebels'


Though the terraforming of Venus began centuries ago, the planet is still not habitable. After generations of hard work, a growing enclave of malcontents are becoming dangerously impatient, threatening the planet's peace. Devastation paralyzed this world before—a conflict that produced Mahala Liangharad, a true child of Venus conceived from the rebels' genetic material.

As the fragile alliance between Earth and Venus treatens to shatter, rumors of turmoil among the planet's inhabitants abound. With catastrophe looming, Mahala must choose her destiny. A mysterious call from deep space is pulling her toward the fulfillment of her most cherished dreams...even as it tears her away from everything she has ever known. Child of Venus is a stunning feat of storytelling, an epic tale in the tradition of Kim Stanley Robinson's bestselling Mars series.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nebula and Locus award-winner Sargent's latest novel completes her masterful SF trilogy (Venus of Shadows and Venus of Dreams) about terraforming the planet Venus. Thanks to the advanced technology of the Habbers (humans who long ago left Earth to carve out habitats inside asteroids), colonists live and work in reasonable comfort within domed settlements on Venus's surface while progress continues on making the planet's atmosphere breathable advances that irritate to no end the jealous Earth-based Islamic power base of Mukhtars. Through the eyes of young Mahala Liangharad, Sargent gives readers an intimate view of life as a colonist, caught between two rival powers limited by the Mukhtars to those jobs deemed necessary to the colony's growth, while the mysterious Habbers seem to offer something more. Then Habber electronics pick up a radio signal from an alien intelligence 600 light-years away, and shifting priorities threaten the delicate balance of power between Earth and space, as well as the completion of the terraforming itself. As in previous books, Sargent brings her world to life with sympathetic characters and crisp, concise language. The only weak moment is the novel's last section, told a little too swiftly, which folds the story back on itself to confront a millennium of sweeping changes in humanity and its place in the universe. (May 1) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Raised by her grandmother beneath Venus's protected domes during the terraforming of the planet, Mahala becomes a physician and council member. When a message is received from interstellar space, Mahala volunteers to become one of the spacefarers sent to search for life beyond their solar system. The journey will take six hundred years. Leaving behind most of her family and friends, she boards the Seeker, where except for the first and last five years of the journey, she will spend the trip in suspended animation. The ship's eventual arrival at the source of the message finds no intelligent life of any kind. The trip has been futile. Traveling back to Venus, they arrive twelve hundred years after their departure, only to discover a deserted planet. The spacefarers begin to resettle Venus as did their ancestors. The cover art is attractive and intriguing, but the plot has little action. Although half the book deals with Mahala's early life and schooling, the friends she makes, and her family members, her relationships seem restrained and distant. The last fifty pages concerning the journey are told from the point of view of the cybermind by which all travelers are linked, making the narrative surreal and detached. Following previous out-of-print volumes in the trilogy, Venus of Dreams and Venus of Shadows (Doubleday, 1988/VOYA June 1989), this book can stand alone, but it will be slow going for many teens. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, EOS/HarperCollins, 448p, $25. Ages 12 to Adult. Reviewer: Nancy K. Wallace
Library Journal
Despite efforts to terraform Venus, the planet remains hostile to human habitation except for the domes under which colonists live tentative lives in the shadow of Earth's domination. As she grows up, Mahala Liangharad, the artificially conceived daughter of former rebels, hears a call from beyond the planet and makes a choice that will forever change her world. The author of Venus of Shadows and Venus of Dreams concludes her trilogy set in the far future with a tale of redemption and bravery that belongs in most sf collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Belatedly wrapping up the trilogy (Venus of Shadows, 1988, etc.) about the terraforming of Venus, with some of the previous characters making minor reappearances. After the disastrous Resource Wars, Earth is ruled by the Mukhtars; Habbers with their advanced technology occupy numerous space habitats; the Mukhtars, aided by the Habbers, have embarked on an ambitious project to render Venus habitable, increasing the planet's rotation, decreasing insulation, reducing the crushing, suffocating atmospheric pressure, and bringing in hydrogen to make water-though Sargent's scientific details make little sense. Mahala Liangharad's parents, involved in unpleasant goings-on, died before she was conceived, artificially gestated, and raised by her grandmother Risa. A promising student, Mahala attends advanced schools on a flying island. Too soon, though, all the students are sent home and the advanced schools are closed; amid big confabs between Habbers and Mukhtars, it emerges that the Habbers have detected an alien beacon more than 500 light-years distant. They're organizing an expedition to send a habitat off at near light-speed to investigate. If Mahala signs up, she's aware that if and when she returns, everybody she knows will be more than a thousand years dead. Like the previous installments, if anybody remembers that far back: all talk, no passion, with an anonymous planetscape and characters largely free of personality.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.36(w) x 6.94(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

There were three routes Mahala could follow home from school. One led toward the lake at the center of Oberg's west dome. The second led past the rows of flat-roofed houses nearest her grandmother's, while the third route took her past the park area and community greenhouses to the road that circled the dome.

The third was her favorite. Traffic along the road was sparse, only an occasional cart of cargo with a few workers on board, or else one of the two passenger carts that continuously circled the west dome in opposite directions, stopping to pick up people or let them off along the way. Standing by the road, Mahala would peer down the long gray stretch of track until she spied a square vehicle on treads in the distance, appearing on the road's long curve, the heads of the passengers poking above the sides of the roofless cart. Her schoolmates often raced after the carts, shouting at the passengers, who waved back at the children from their seats. She would follow the cart and its passengers at a distance until she came to the glass-walled structures of the community greenhouses. Her grandfather, Sef Talis, who was taking his turn on duty there, usually left work at about the time she went home from school.

Mahala felt safer walking home with Sef. If she was with her grandfather, her schoolmate Ragnar Einarsson would not leap out at her from behind a shrub or other hiding place, then chase her all the way home. During her first days at school, she had gone home along the pathway that led past the lake, but a few days ago, from the slope of a gentle hill overlooking the mirrorlike surface of the water, she had seen Ragnar near one of the docks. A fewpeople were usually fishing

from the docks; she liked to sit near them as the golden surface of the lake faded into greenish-blue and then a darker blue as the wide disk of haloed bright light in the dome far overhead faded.

The lake had become a source of wonder for her, now that she was learning even more about her home. Streams of water, collected from the poisonous acidic rain falling steadily outside Oberg's domes, were cleansed to feed the streams of the settlement. People had made this lake and stocked it with fish, had made topsoil to cover the regolith and had seeded the land, had built the protective domes and their disks of light that glowed from a height of over a kilometer above the land, had even made the rain that fell outside the domes on the dark and barren surface of Venus. Once, she had felt awe while sitting by the lake and listening to the trilling of birds and thinking about what people had made here. Now her awe had become fear of Ragnar, of others, of the secrets others kept from her, of the dark and dangerous world that lay outside the domes of Oberg.

The other children her age never seemed afraid. They pestered the teacher with questions, huddled together in groups, and were at ease with one another. Their world seemed unlike the one she had learned about from the screen and the teaching images that answered her questions. Other five-year-olds lived in a world of rules, games, and secrets that Mahala had failed to master even after being in school for twenty days. Sometimes she wished that she could learn at home; the screen images might tutor her as well as the teachers did.

But her grandmother would never allow that. "You're a Cytherian," Risa would say. "You're part of this community, making a new world, you can't just be off by yourself You can't be a child for long. You have to learn how to get along with people, how to work with them -that's part of what school is for."

Mahala often chafed against her grandmother's rules. "Don't wander around alone in the main dome" was one rule. "Don't talk to people you don't know, especially new arrivals" was another. Mahala had worn her tracer, the bracelet that could alert her household to her whereabouts, longer than most of the other children. She had begged Risa not to force her to wear one to school, where her schoolmates were sure to make fun of her if she did.

Mahala came to the edge of the road and looked around for her grandfather. The glass walls of the three community greenhouses were just up the road, and past them she glimpsed the lighted cave of the entrance to the tunnel that led under the ground and into Oberg's main dome. Oberg seemed huge to her, its west dome a world in itself When she walked to school, the disk of light far above would brighten until the darkness shrank to a black band just above the wall at the bottom of the dome. The flat green land, with only a few small hills, was a garden of trees and flowerbeds over which the prefabricated blocks of dwellings had been scattered and the facets of small greenhouses glittered like jewels, where the air was always warm and smelled of grass and leaves and growing things. Mahala never felt enclosed unless she was near the black wall that encircled the dome or inside one of the tunnels that connected the four domes of Oberg.

Her teacher Karin Mugabe had spoken of how the Cytherians would live outside the domes one day, when the world outside had changed enough for people to be able to survive there. Kolya Burian, one of Risa's housernates, sometimes walked with Mahala to the edge of the dome and then lifted her up in his strong arms so that she could see over the wall. Outside the transparent ceramic material of the dome, misted over

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