Four interconnected love stories between people from different and difficult backgrounds. All of them end up finding their way to -don't say forgiveness. don't...- to forgiveness, which clearly consists in an understanding partner and an useful occupation. It's settled in many planets, but it's mainly about one, Yeowe, that joins the narrative advantages of having just freed itself from a colonial, pro-slavery regime and being ruled by chauvinistic pigs. Luckily, none of the characters are native of wherever they end up finding their particular brand of happiness. It's manicheistic; all things Ekumen are very likely to be good, and all things patriot are probably bad. I don't mind. There probably is much to be gained of the contact of others, specially if they are older, academically better and have a working peaceful system of govern, but I'm a worried about how the ideology at work might translate in real life.
The stories are slow to pick up, and end on the satisfying natural conclusion wholly invented by fiction. Frankly, slavery and male chauvinism are rather tired themes, specially on this planet with no history. It has to rediscover all from scratch. On the good side:
Happy endings, no they never bore me
The first story's characters are old people, and the orthodoxally interesting part of their lives is over. Is that politically incorrect? The fact is that the only thing going on is the romance; and it's a fairly common one, contrived by the oldest, really really old, ancient, tricks in the book.
She nurses him back to health, he saves her cat from a fire. La mère Michelle invented that like, a thousand years ago.
I might have found it sweet, but it info dumped me to boredom. I might have liked the male protagonist, only I didn't, because I don't have pity to spare for corrupt politicians. And she was strong and independent, but only by omission, because we didn't know that much about her. On the whole, it's a shame, because I'm usually a sucker for willful old people.
I did care for the main character of the third one, but the story focused on his relationships with women and glossed over his involvement in the feminist movements of Yeowe. I find that I enjoy reading about a man who chooses to defend the rights of women. I am led to understand that black people are sick of being portrayed in fiction with a white person as a spokesman. As far as I'm concerned, men are welcome to defend us in fiction. Of course, I would object if he created the movement, but he's just willing to participate, and it's curiously moving.
The fourth one... happens... and its plot is very contrived and the main character is a bit too perfect and I should have skipped it, even though it's the longest.
The second story I liked. It was about two people made enemies by their upbringing, their experience, their beliefs, and most of all their temperament, locked up in one room, but who can think
. It's about how difficult it is to understand one another, and it's a love story between flawed grown ups whose flaws are also their virtues. They dislike, then love each other for the same reasons.
There also seems so be some thinking about personal semi philosophical concepts and individual mottos, specially for the male characters: hold fast to the one noble thing, global and regional truths, and I can't remember the others (or even if there were any) but it's a great way to build a distinct character in a story so short and so focused in sci-fi's social problems.