Review copy provided by Tor.
This is a sort of book I don’t get enough of: the sort of book I refer to as planets-and-aliens. (I know there are other planets-and-aliens fans out there reading this and doing a little happy dance.) There are two kinds of aliens in this one, the Ilmatarans and the Sholen, and they are in quite different relationship to each other and the humans, and everyone is trying to figure out each other and the universe. And that is just the sort of thing I miss and don’t get enough of hurrah go team. And! And and and! It all takes place under the surface of a frozen alien planet! So there is ice and lots of water and two kinds of aliens!
The down sides are fairly small. There is a small incident of sexual violence, noted for those of you who may, after the last five years or so of the field, be fed up enough to be avoiding all such. There is also a moment wherein a character asks another if he could please make his reply to a question a bit less bathetic, and this criticism could in fact be leveled at the human interactions in general. And this may be part of what makes me not attach particularly strongly to any of the human characters.
But bah, humans, who needs ‘em? You can pick up nearly any book in the store and find humans. Thick on the ground, humans. Can hardly dodge ‘em. This book has two kinds of aliens, one of whom is entirely blind and it doesn’t matter in the least because they understand about tasting things in the water and using sonar so thoroughly that we are most of the way through the book before it occurs to them that the funny monkeys have a silent head sense that sneaks up on them. And every time you go thinking that one of the aliens is acting awfully human, something happens that…well, no, really, they’re not.
So I am quite pleased and satisfied. More aliens, Mr. Cambias. More. Humans only if you feel it entirely necessary. But ice and water and aliens: more.