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A Darkling Seaby James Cambias
Synopses & Reviews
On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don't disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they're free to conduct their missions in peace.
But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war.
Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives — and the future of human exploration — is anything but certain, in A Darkling Sea by James Cambias.
"In Cambias's vivid hard SF debut, humans land on the oceanic world of Ilmatar to study its indigenous population of intelligent aquatic creatures. The Terran scientists successfully avoid contact until a 'shameless media whore' secretly films the Ilmatarans, resulting in disastrous first interactions. The incident leads to the appearance of a second alien race, the hairless, six-limbed Sholen, who arrive on Ilmatar ostensibly to identify the cause of the unfortunate inter-species encounter and prevent further mishaps. Opinion on the Sholen home world regarding 'the Terran problem' is divided — some wish to avoid any involvement while others want to ensure that humanity is confined to Earth — and that debate plays out on Ilmatar in a satisfying blend of political intrigue, military posturing, and shifting alliances. Cambias paints imaginative, convincing portraits of the Ilmatarans, who struggle to impose order on their primitive and violent agrarian society, and the Sholen, whose self-identification as 'compassionate' and 'nurturing' masks a capacity for savagery. Cambias writes with a light touch and occasional flashes of humor, and the science supporting his novel is sound and unobtrusive. This is an impressive debut by a gifted writer." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"An exceptionally thoughtful, searching and intriguing debut." Kirkus, Starred Review
"Like Silverberg, who developed fully realized alien societies in such novels as Downward to the Earth (to which this novel bears some thematic resemblance), Cambias makes the Sholen and Ilmataran people and cultures as real as the more familiar human component. Beautifully written, with a story that captures the imagination the way SF should." Booklist, Starred Review
“A stunning debut! Alien races to rival Larry Niven, world-building to rival Hal Clement, and lots of rip-roaring adventure. James Cambias will be one of the century's major names in hard science fiction.” Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues
About the Author
James Cambias has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the 2001 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. He lives in Western Massachusetts.
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