#SciFiMonth Sci-5 Tuesday: Colonization Sci-Fi
To celebrate science fiction during the month of November, I’ve put together a series of posts I’ll be doing every Tuesday to highlight the sci-fi tropes or themes that I find simply irresistible! I’ve also been fortunate to read some great books in the genre over the last few years, and to give them some extra attention, each week I will also be featuring five titles that I recently enjoyed or thought were pretty special.
This week’s topic is most certainly one of my absolute favorites! Today we look at COLONIZATION SCI-FI: stories about the colonization of space and the indomitable human spirit in the face of extreme adversity that ranges from alien aggro to environments that want to kill you!
Dark Eden isn’t really the kind of book you can take at face value. In many ways, it’s almost like a hypothetical social experiment, exploring the possible outcomes if a society were to emerge on its own, completely cut off and free of influences from the rest of humankind. The story’s premise begins with a scenario that sees five human beings stranded on a dark and icebound planet they dubbed Eden. Three decided to leave, while two remained behind. They were Angela and Tommy, who eventually settled down and raised children. 160 years later, the story officially beings and the population of Eden has grown from 2 to 532. Collectively calling themselves “Family”, all this time their group has stayed together living in a small area dubbed Circle Valley. However, with their numbers ever increasing, their home is becoming far too small and the surrounding resources are becoming depleted. One teenager named John Redlantern changes everything when he proposes Family abandon their old ways to seek new expansion beyond the forest and over the mountains of Snowy Dark. (Read the full review…)
Planetfall opens on a world far from Earth, where protagonist Renata Ghali is called urgently to the colony boundary when a mysterious figure is spotted heading towards the settlement. As the stranger approaches, even though Ren doesn’t recognize him, she sees that he bears a striking resemblance to her friend Suh-Mi, also known as the Pathfinder—the woman who had led their group here to this planet all those years ago to escape a polluted and over-populated Earth. But then, more than two decades have passed since they first arrived, and Suh-Mi had entered the gargantuan alien structure they found when they made planetfall, never to emerge again. So, just who is this mysterious newcomer? He claims to be the grandson of Suh-Mi, but few people know why this information would be dangerous if it got out. It would mean the end of the colony’s way of life, which they have spent years cultivating into their own little utopia. Long story short: I loved Planetfall…except the ending. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a great book that you nonetheless had some issues with, then you’ll probably understand why I still found this book fascinating and fun to read. In its finer moments, the novel is a thought-provoking narrative about the fear of the unknown, and how in times of uncertainty, those around you can be a comfort…or a strain. (Read the full review…)
Outpost opens on Donovan, a planet settled by colonists who arrived a mere few decades ago to establish a mining operation on behalf of the Corporation. What they hadn’t expected, however, was the lack of support they would receive from their employers. Of course, some of this also had to do with the unavoidable perils of space travel. Almost half a dozen Corporate ships have gone missing, never reaching their destinations. So when news arrives that the Turalon has been sighted in orbit, it is almost like a miracle. The people of Donovan are relieved but some are also quite fearful. With space travel being such a risky business these days, what will happen to their colony? And for those who want to return to the Solar System, is it worth the chance that they will become lost forever? Or would it be better simply to remain on Donovan, where most of the colonists have deeds to their own land and control over their own lives? There’s a lot going on in this book: survival, politics, romance, mystery, action and adventure with high drama mixed with intrigue and suspense. I enjoyed every moment. (Read the full review…)
Semiosis is a multi-generational story that takes place over the course of many years, following a group of human colonists who have settled on a planet they dubbed Pax. The first pioneers hoped to start over and establish a peaceful society on this newly discovered planet. However, they were wholly unprepared for the alien environment and the surprising ways Pax’s bizarre flora and fauna interacted with their surroundings. Many of the settlers died within a matter of weeks, but through hard work and perseverance, the colony managed to hang on and give rise to the next generation. Still, their difficulties were far from over. Despite the settlers’ lofty goals to live in harmony with the land, with every new generation also came new challenges, both biological and social. The colony adapted to the planet, but Pax adapted in turn. It was a joy watching the society on Pax evolve over the years, even when the settlers themselves struggled and dealt with some difficult obstacles and brutal conditions. Overall, I found the book to be a very realistic depiction of human colonization on an alien planet, and I also admired many of the characters for trying to uphold their values even in the face of danger and despair. (Read the full review…)
The most accurate way to describe Cibola Burn is part space colonization story and part space disaster thriller. This fourth installment of The Expanse sequence is also, in my opinion, the turning point where the series went from good to great. With the massive ring structure created by the mysterious proto-molecule determined to be a gateway leading to thousands of new worlds, corporations have been scrambling to get first dibs on exploration and harvesting rights. To their chagrin, however, a ship of refugees have also made it over and settled on the first of the habitable new planets, starting up their own mining operations. Violence erupts when the company with claims to the planet arrives to protect what they think of as their property, with the colonists pushing back. Protagonist James Holden is tasked to mediate the conflict before both sides end up killing each other, but even the system’s best known peacekeeper can only do so much. It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Expanse, and Cibola Burn captures many of the reasons why. Of course, you’ll have to catch up with the first three books if you haven’t read them yet, but they, this is a series that should be on every sci-fi fan’s TBR anyway! (Read the full review…)
What are some of the tropes and themes you enjoy reading about in sci-fi? Are you also a fan of space colonization stories? Let me know your favorites and recommendations!