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Posted January 24, 2012
Don’t be fooled. From its setting on Precursor—a barren planet where everything that grows is toxic to human life, and where people are enslaved by a corrupt alliance of corporate and religious interests—Mistress of Molecules might seem like the kind of machine-laden, hard science fiction that is strong on technical descriptions and weak on human interest. But human interest is what drives this engaging, action-driven novel in which chemistry—both the scientific and the romantic kind—plays an important part. Weinberg, who has made a career writing nonfiction that sheds insight into our relationships with technology, infuses this book with astute, often witty, and sometimes profound observations on the nature of societies, religion, freedom, and terrorism. The book also brims with intriguing scientific ideas and speculations. But what keeps the pages turning are the stories of Andre and Libra, two gifted, troubled souls, who, in seeking to shape a better life for the inhabitants of Precursor,find their own happiness as well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 29, 2011
Gerald Weinberg's sci-fi work 'Mistress of Molecules' is, on the surface, a tale about chemicals, eco-terrorism, and interstellar travel. However, it works on another level - one of two people, each seeking freedom of their own. They may start out in different sections of the galaxy, but it's when they come together that things kick into high gear. Libra, a gifted chemist, seeks to liberate the residents of her planet, Precursor, from the pollution-spewing policies that cut lifespan by almost half. Making matters even more dangerous is the nature of her society, which is run by a quasi-religious police state. In another part of the galaxy, the young man Andre is brought up amidst squalor and abuse, in both his own household and in the religious order he's inducted into. Some of the book's more tense and gripping scenes take place where Andre finally rebels, and desperately flees the confines of the monastary-island and stows away aboard a starship. Andre, against all odds, manages to survive and thrive amidst the alien race he encounters, the Zgaarid. But his world is turned upside down yet again as he meets the mysterious and intriguingly alluring Libra on Precursor. Without giving away any more spoilers, let's just say that their road together doesn't run smoothly. But it's wide, deep, and the consequences shape the future of both the humans' world and that of the Zgaarid. A solid, engaging sci-fi read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 15, 2010
**Spoiler warning - I do give some detail of the book in my review. Some of my favorite parts we left out so others could discover them on their own as I did.**
I was intrigued by the description of this book. The first main character we meet, Libra, is a brilliant girl raised by an alcoholic Mom. She seems to be influenced more by the short video of her father's trial that ended in his death. She's been waiting her whole young life planning revenge against the church (which controls the government) that killed him. She has a clever plan to strike at the industry that pollutes her planet so much no one has ever seen the sun. Helping her is the fact that women on this world are seen only as baby factories without much intelligence. This allows her to keep her father's lab and move around with anonymity. I like how her clever plans have small flaws. It's more realistic and suspenseful.
Just when you're ready to find out how the first stage of Libra's plan turns out, we switch over to Andre's story. It takes a bit to adjust - just like you were plucked off of one planet and deposited on another. This story line is a little rougher. Andre is a small child when we meet him. His world is very limited and full of abuse. He's very bright and a lot more normal than he has any right to be. We see how he learns and grows despite his restrictions and lack of human contact and love.
We go back and forth as Libra's plans unfold and Andre ages into a pre-teen. Andre meets his first (and for quite a while only) friend. He is also sent away to seminary - which is completely alien and horrifying. A lot of really horrible things happen to Andre there. Some of it is hard to read but really bonds the reader with Andre.
**Spoiler alert until the last paragraph - skip if you want**
While Libra's attacks against the plant & government go perfectly, the results are exactly what she imagined. She wasn't able to predict some of the negative outcomes. This seems to come mainly from her youth and lack of a broad point of view. She learns as she goes with help from her boss - the lovable Jules.
The storylines start their journeys toward each other when Andre escapes from seminary. It's an engaging trip with him - nerve-racking and hopeful at the same time. A couple strokes of luck get Andre onto a Zgaarid ship. We see a few adventures while Andre is on the ship.
It's one of my favorite parts of the book.
We come back to Libra's story and get so thoroughly involved that Andre's arrival into her world is a nice surprise. He's there to help catch the group of subversives (aka Libra) responsible for the trouble. Of course, they connect (in many ways) and things get interesting.
To explain what happens next would completely spoil the best part of the book. The action comes fast and furious until the satisfying end. It's a clever wrap up to the story arc and I look forward to the next book in which I hope there are more adventures for Andre and Libra. I liked this book and definitely recommend it!
Posted April 6, 2012
No text was provided for this review.