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Ahh, back to some good, ol' Science Fiction, the First Contact & Virgin Planetfall variety. Futureworld, of course, but what's interesting right off the diving board about author Gilman's projection is that, although the characters first consider Iris untouched by humans"the rainbow planet. . . an enigma clothed in light"(p.23)it was once terraformed for homo sapiens from the mysteriously-decamped past. Lightbeam travel is pretty cool, too, if you don't mind bagging the decades you spend in-flight, which, in our heroine's journey, that's 58 years. Just the universe. She's still 58 years younger. The novel also does an instaneous transmission trick over the same distances for data entry only, but it is more convenient than tenable.

To discover something new, we must understand it, yet the very act of understanding changes the thing we observe. . . What happens when we encounter something so genuinely outside our previous experience that we have no mental categories for it, and the only truthful statement is "I do not know"? Why, we liken it to something we do know, however bad the analogy. We apply to it rules that lie within our experience. We resist incomprehension as reflexively as we recoil from pain. . . What was truly new is now just a subcategory of the old. . . We are organisms evolved to destroy unfamiliarity by the act of understanding it. . . Do we carry with us desires like viruses that will infect the planet, and kill off the fragile truth? None of us has the qualifications to be first to witness a new world. But who does? It is not a skill you can learn, for who could teach it? All I know is, we are embarked on a mission of invention, and what we find will say as much about us as it does about Iris.

Thora Lassiter, p.58

Lotsa times other people can say it far better than I can. Thank God!






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