Sunday, 2 September 2018

Acadie, by Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com) | review by Stephen Theaker

It’s the day after the president’s one hundred and fiftieth birthday, and a crisis presents itself. An object has passed the dewline, the solar system’s defensive border, which comprises a billion satellites. The object is a highly radioactive fifteen metre long cylinder, with a shield of ice and a fission engine, and it looks like it’s from the Bureau of Colonisation. The Colony was established in secret hundreds of years ago, founded by genetic engineers fleeing from a right-wing theocracy, and the Bureau of Colonisation has been hunting it ever since. As the cover puts it: “The first humans still hunt their children across the stars.” Now they’ve been found. Duke Faraday got the job of president because no one thought he wanted to do it, making him the ideal candidate, but will he be up to the challenge of protecting this hippie paradise, where people happily turn themselves into orcs, elves, vampires and lions? Though it is a very good novella – large-scale science fiction, full of ideas, crammed into a hundred or so pages, with a brilliant ending, just the way I like it – this is quite a tricky book to review, and people who have read it will know why. You will want to have read it before hearing any spoilers, and this review has been redacted somewhat to reflect that. One thing I can talk about is the book’s title: some reviewers have assumed Acadie is the name of the Colony, but I don’t think that’s mentioned in the text. My guess is that it’s a reference to the doomed seventeenth century French colony. ****

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