Sunday, December 24, 2017

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Rachel and Wick live in the City, although living is a very different proposition from what it was six years ago when the Company failed.  Now everyone must be considered an enemy and a residence must be hidden and provided with plenty of traps to catch would-be intruders.  There are no government services, no money and no civilization as most would consider it.  There are only power factions and a demand that everyone pick a side.  Rachel is a scavenger and brings home to Wick the food and technology she finds.  Wick is a scientist and can still create protein and items that help people survive, like medicine bugs or items that fight.

The Company was a biotech one, and when it got out of control, bad things happened.  They engineered bits of life and when those lives got too big to handle, they were released.  The biggest is Mord, a bear-like being that is stories high, huge yet able to fly.   He is psychotic from what was done to him and spends his days looking for anything to kill.  He is the defining element of this world.  There is also The Magician, a woman who knows enough secrets that she is sure she can defeat Mord and restore society, with her as ruler of course.

One day while scavenging, Rachel comes across Mord sleeping and crawls up on his fur.  Most scavengers would never have the courage to do that and Mord tends to have interesting things stuck in his fur.  That's the case this day as Rachel finds a small anemone-like item with beautiful colors.  She sticks it in her bag and takes it home.  For some reason she doesn't share it with Wick but keeps it.  As the days go by, it starts to grow and soon she is finding it in places she didn't leave it.  Finally, one day it speaks and she realises it is a sentient being.  As the days, weeks and months go by, Rachel thinks of Borne, which is the name she gives it, as her child and she nurtures and teaches him.  Wick is adamantly opposed as he believes Borne is a monster that Rachel hasn't seen the truth of.  Who is correct and what will happen if Rachel has brought in an entity that could destroy the world they tentatively inhabit?

Jeff Vandermeer is one of the shining stars of the sci fi/fantasy world and his novels tend to be dsytopian.  He writes of the fine line between the wonders of science and the horrors that can be released when humans err on their knowledge of the consequences they can unleash.  His Southern trilogy is considered a modern masterpiece, and this novel continues his themes and his readability.  This book is recommended for sci fi/fantasy readers.

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