Centuries ago, the people of Earth sent Ship into space. Deep within its core, it carried the seed of humankind....
More than twenty years have passed since Ship left its children on an uninhabited, earthlike planet. Zoheret and her companions have started settlements and had children of their own. But soon after their arrival, Zoheret's old nemesis, Ho, struck out on his own.
When Ho's daughter, fifteen-year-old Nuy, spies three strangers headed toward their home, the hostility between the two groups of old shipmates begins anew. In Pamela Sargent's Farseed, can the divided settlers face the challenges of adapting to their new environment in spite of their conflicts?
About the Author
PAMELA SARGENT is the author of many highly praised novels, including Earthseed. She has won the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and has been a finalist for the Hugo Award. She lives with writer George Zebrowski in upstate New York.
Read an Excerpt
Nuy crouched close to the ground, clutching her spear as she gazed over the cliff's edge at the flickering light below. Fire burned just above the riverbank, and three figures sat around it.
The flames revealed that these people were nothing like her own. Instead of loincloths made of rope and worn hides, they wore leg and foot coverings, and upper garments with long sleeves. Two of them seemed to be men, both with hair as black as Nuy's, one with a thin mustache like her father's and the other with a short dark beard. The third stranger had short brown hair, no facial hair at all, was smaller than the others, and wore a necklace of small colored stones.
They were unaware of her. She had sensed that they were down there even before she could see or hear them, just before she had picked up the scent of their fire. She watched, and still they did not look up. They were as blind to her as the older ones among whom she lived would have been, apparently unable to sense that someone else was watching them.
These strangers had to have come from that place far to the north, the place that her father had so often warned her against, the place from which death had been carried to his people so many years ago. At least that was what her father believed, that the sickness that had come upon them when Nuy was still a child, that had spared her and the three like her but had made others sicken and die, had come from that faraway settlement, the only other place on Home where people like them could be found. Two of their people had gone to the settlement in the north to trade for what they needed, and had come back barely alive and burning with fever, and even though those two people had lived, others had died.
These strangers might also be carrying death. Nuy would have to allow for that even though she had grown to doubt much of what her father had told her over the years. He had once claimed that they would be safe in their caves near the sea, and then the storm had come. He had blamed the deaths that came later to their people on those who lived in the north, and yet it seemed to her now that the older ones might have been ailing all along and that several of them had grown weak enough that any illness might have taken their lives. There had once been seven young ones, but the oldest three had died of the fever and now there were only four, including Nuy. Once there had been more of the older ones, too. Now there were only her father and seven of those who had come south with him in the years before Nuy's birth. She could not recall her own mother, who had died when Nuy was still a small child.
The strangers had brought two horses with them, one black and one gray. One of the dark-haired people stood up, went to the gray horse, and removed something from one of the bags on the horse's back, then handed it to the small brown-haired one. Nuy could now see that the brown-haired person was a female, with the shape of breasts under her upper garment. The female lifted the small pale object she was holding to her lips and bit into it.
Food. Nuy's mouth watered. Perhaps she could slip down there later, while the strangers were sleeping, and steal some of their food. Maybe she would even dare to approach them openly and ask for something to eat.
No, she told herself; that might be dangerous. She did not know why they had come here, and even if she did have increasingly more doubts about the stories her father told, there was still a chance that these strangers might be carrying death.
What she should do, she realized, was head back to her father and warn him that strangers had come into their territory.
Nuy considered that for a moment, wondering what her father would do. The best way for him and his people to protect themselves might be to stay where they were and hide from the strangers, who did not know this land and would most likely be unable to find them, being as seemingly unperceptive as they were. But maybe these northerners had come here only to trade. People from her father's band had once traveled north to trade, so it was possible the strangers had come here for the same reason.
Then she thought of her ragged loincloth, her spear, the horses her father had once had but which had run off, died, or been eaten, the meal that she had made of a rodent a while back and the effort made in catching such little meat, the deer that her father and Owen had carried into their camp thirty days ago and how long they had made that meat last, and the caves in which her people now made their home.
What could these strangers want from them? Her people had almost nothing to offer in trade. Nuy wondered if they had ever owned anything of value. Maybe the people in the north had so much that they could give it away without having to trade anything for it, the way Daniella and Eyela had once made necklaces of shells for Nuy and everyone else, without asking for anything in return.
Nuy's curiosity warred with her fear. If she could get closer to the strangers, maybe she could find out more about them. She rose to her feet, but remained in a crouch as she moved away from the edge of the cliff.
There was a way down among the rocks to a ledge below, places where the rock jutted out far enough for her to find footing. Nuy crept along a ridge, balancing on her bare feet as her toes gripped the rock, until she reached the ledge. She lowered herself and stretched out on her stomach, careful not to dislodge any stones.
". . . didn't think it would take us this long," a voice was saying. One of the men was speaking, and she easily grasped his words. "By the time we get back, the ice and cold rains will have come. If we had a lot more to live on, it might almost be better to stay here for the next few months and then start back when the weather's warmer."
Nuy was confused. The weather was always warm, except when it was so hot that they had to hide from the daylight in their caves.
"But then everyone would only worry about us even more," the woman said. "They're probably already wondering when we'll get back. Besides, I'm getting homesick."
"So am I," the bearded man said. His voice was lower and deeper than that of the first who had spoken, and his short dark hair, unlike Nuy's and the other man's, curled against his head. "It shouldn't take us as long to get back, even if we have the weather against us. All we really have to do is follow the river."
"And if the others have settled where they originally planned to settle, we can't be more than a day or two away from them." The man with the lighter voice was speaking again.
"We haven't seen them for years," the man with the beard and the curling hair replied, "and after coming this far with no sign of them, I wonder if they can even still be alive. The last time we saw them, they looked like they really needed what we had to offer in trade, and we got so little in return that we might as well have just given our goods away."
"We have to find out what happened to them," the woman said. "That was one of our reasons for coming this far."
"But if they're not where we expected to find them, we may never find out what happened," the man with the mustache and straight dark hair said.
The man with the curly hair shrugged. "I know it's the right thing to do," he muttered, "looking for them and offering to help them if they need any help, which they probably do. Forgive me if I say that I wouldn't particularly mind if we never found them."
The woman said, "Well, you've made that clear enough."
Nuy wondered exactly where these people expected to find hers. Her father had moved them farther inland after the great storm, to caves well to the north and east of the ones where they had been living when she was a child. If these strangers thought that they were still living in their first settlement near the sea, they would never find them.
She could lead them to her people. Nuy turned that notion over in her mind. Clearly they had things with them that her people could use, garments and food and strange tools, such as the flat object one of the men had propped up against his upraised knees that reminded her of something her father had once owned, and if her people had little to offer in return, they could still show the strangers where to find plants and fruits that could be eaten, other plants that could be made into tools, and where beached and edible fish could be found along the seashore.
But her father might believe that these people were also carrying death with them. It might be better if they never found her people.
The man with the curling hair got up then, and busied himself by hammering stakes into the ground and then tying a large piece of fabric to the stakes, and finally she understood that he was putting up a kind of shelter. "Go to sleep," he said to his companions. "I'll take the first watch."
Nuy sighed. It seemed that she would not be able to steal some of their food after all. She rested her head against her arms and soon fell asleep.
Nuy awoke at dawn. By then, the woman was up, sitting by the ashes of the fire. The woman got to her feet, and Nuy noticed that she was wearing a wand at her waist that looked like the weapon her father carried. Nuy's father clung to his weapon and did not let anyone else use it, partly because it marked him as the leader of his people and also because it was the only such weapon they had left. The weapon would only stun a target, but a knife or spear could kill off any game after that. Her father had not used his weapon in a while; she wondered if that was because he feared that it might fail him.
Nuy often thought of how much easier her hunting would be with such a weapon, which did not seem all that hard to use. A knife and a spear had their limitations. But even without such a wand, it was easier for her to find game than it was for the older ones of her band, who were less able to spot tracks and seemed blind and deaf to certain sights and sounds.
The woman lifted the flap of the shelter. "Better get up," she said. After a few moments, the man with straight dark hair came out and then went behind a boulder, apparently to relieve himself. The other man crawled out, stretched, then went to the horses, which were grazing on the green and yellow grasses that grew above the riverbank.
He returned with what looked like three more packets of food. In the light, Nuy could now tell that all three of the strangers were carrying weapons. She tried not to think of her empty stomach.
"I've been thinking," the woman said. "Maybe one of us should go on alone and scout out what's ahead."
"Are you sure?" the man with curling hair asked.
"They haven't come to trade with us for ages. That could mean that they haven't survived, or couldn't spare the resources for such a long journey, or it could mean that they're deliberately avoiding us. In other words, they might not be so willing to welcome us."
"You think so?" the other man said.
"Don't forget, I knew Ho a little better than you did," the woman responded. "He would go along with the rest of us when it was to his benefit and make trouble whenever he thought anybody wasn't sufficiently intimidated by him. Ho has no loyalties to anyone except himselfI used to wonder if he could feel any empathy for others at all. I think we can assume that he hasn't changed all that much."
The woman was talking about her father. Nuy held her breath.
"I can't see why welcoming us wouldn't be to his benefit," the deep-voiced man said. "It isn't as if we brought nothing with us to trade or give away."
The woman shook her head. "Yes, and he might just decide to take it all instead of waiting for us to offer it to him."
"You weren't worrying about this before."
"Well, I'm worrying about it now. I just feel we should be more careful." She bit into her food.
Nuy thought about what the strangers had said. Maybe her father would try to steal what they had; she had thought of doing so herself. But given that he still believed death had come to them from these people, maybe he had no reason to welcome either them or their goods.
Nuy tensed, not knowing what to do, longing for some of their food.
"Tell you what," the straight-haired man said after they had finished their meal in silence. "I'll take one of the horses and go on ahead, and you two can wait here. According to our maps, I should be within sight of the ocean by sometime tomorrow. If I haven't found any sign of them by then, I'll head back."
"I don't like it," the other man said. "We should stick together."
"I won't be going that far, and I'll wait until it's dark before I get too close to where they should be. I'll keep myself hidden and won't contact them unless I'm sure they'll welcome me. If I have any doubts at all, I'll come back here and then we can all decide what to do after that."
"Will you need the screen?" the woman asked.
"If I follow the river, I shouldn't need any maps."
The three strangers talked some more, but in lower voices, so that Nuy caught only a few of their words. At last the man with curly hair threw up his hands. "All right," he said, "I can see your point, but try to get back here in a couple of days if you can."
"Don't worry. I won't take chances. I should be able to get back here in three or four days at the most."
Nuy decided then that she would follow the straight-haired man.
Copyright © 2007 by Pamela Sargent. All rights reserved.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In a nutshell: The first book (Earthseed) told the story of a group of humans raised by a spaceship on the way to a distant planet. This book follows those characters' children, who are now living on the new planet, dubbed Home. Home didn't have an intelligent life form before the humans came, but it seems ready to adapt to the arrivals...and to adapt them to itself. In more detail: There are two stories going on in this book. One follows Leila, a teenager who was born and raised in the first settlement on Home, and lives a repetitive existence in a community whose only goal is to survive in the tiny niche they have carved out for themselves, an environment they have created to be as much like Earth as possible, making little attempt to adapt to their new planet. She and her friends propose a mission to leave the settlement and go looking for three lost explorers, and learn more about Home along the way. Far more interesting (in my opinion) is Nuy's story. Nuy was born to a splinter group that left the original settlement and struck out on their own to explore Home and build lives there. They didn't do such a good job of it; not only have they lost much of the technology they took with them, but their numbers have diminished, too, leaving them in mere survival mode. But Nuy and the other children have forged a bond with Home; they understand the place and fit there in a way none of the other settlers in either group do. In fact, they seem almost alien... I enjoyed Earthseed, but I loved Farseed even more. Nuy has a very unique view of the settlers and their interactions with Home. Her story leaves you wondering who, exactly, is the alien here? Is it the settlers who invaded the planet, or the beings Home seems to have created in response to them? Maybe it's both.
Ship was created to find worlds that could contain human life and seed these orbs with humans. One of the first worlds to fulfill the requirement is Home where Ship deposited colonists. The colonists make up two groups. One segment led by Ho settles in the warm south while the rest headed by Zoheret moved into the coastal north. The people of the south lost much of their technology and devolved into a more\primitive lifestyle, while the Northerners built domes and relied on the technology brought from earth.------------ Ho¿s teenage daughter Nuy sees three strangers approach from the north. She brings them to their village, but Ho assumes they bring death so he kills them and exiles his offspring. A year passes with the second generation Northerners wanting to know what happened to their compatriots. At a town hall meeting Leila a second generation person wants to send a second expedition to the South and she is supported by the settlement so they go south to find out the truth. When they camp for the night, Ho sends his forces to attack them killing two of the campers. Leila insists on continuing and soon meets Nuy, who wants to save both groups from her out of control parent.--------------- Two groups, one primitive and one advanced, battle for control with some in power (on both sides) preferring the status quo. It takes the female adventurers from both sides to demand change and go against the status quo established by the original landing party. Pamela Sargent has written a fantastic science fiction novel that shows how humans adapt to new environs. FARSEED is enjoyable and exciting as readers will care what happens to the colonists especially the heroic offspring.------------ Harriet Klausner
In this terrific and long awaited sequel to Pamela Sargent's Earthseed, Sargent presents teen readers with an exciting survival story lightly laced with science fiction elements. Characters from the less cohesive first volume appear, but the real focus is on the teenaged protagonists Leila and Nuy, children from warring factions of a Terran colony on a distant planet they've come to call "Home." These heroines are very well developed and quite strong. Although they are still nominally children in their societies, they are intelligent, bright characters who easily take on leadership roles. Although some of the sexual violence that darkened the first volume is still present, it's less of a centerpiece here, and both female protagonists spend the majority of the book happily unpaired. Their focus isn't on romance, but rather on survival--both survival as individuals and the survival of their community.The science fiction aspects of the story also take a backseat; there's some slightly troublesome hand-waving in terms of the genetic development of the colonists, but this hardly detracts from the strongly paced, action-filled plot. Sargent sets readers up for another volume, so maybe some of these unresolved elements will be addressed, but hopefully readers won't have to wait another twenty years for a resolution.
This is the kind of books that discourages literacy among teenagers. I spent most of the time fighting sleep when reading this title. I would rather encourage teens to drop out of school, join a gang, and get pregnant repeatedly that recommend this book. (P.S. Teens, you shouldn't drop out of school 'cause education is important and you should only start a family when you are ready and don't join a gang, you'll only end up dead or in prison).