Review of DARK ARARAT by Brian Stablefordt
TOR, March 2002
Matthew Fleury had been a prophet of Earth's destruction and the need to flee to the stars to seek a new earth--one that humanity had not destroyed and where mankind could form a new home. As prophet and ecologist, he had been allowed to join mankind's first exploration of extra-solar space. When he awakens hundreds of years after departure, he finds that the ship has found a new world, but the world is not exactly an earth-clone. He is awakened because his counterpart, the ships other ecologist, has been killed--possibly by humanoid aliens.
Matthew's search for truth on this strange planet makes up the bulk of the novel. Author Brian Stableford (see also other BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) manages hard science fiction with a vengence. The novel is full of information about DNA, evolution, and possible ways that evolution could have gone differently. And on Ararat, it certainly did evolve differently without using DNA.
Characters are certainly not Stableford's strong point--and Matthew never really seems to have the motivation and drive to be both a prophet of the old world's end or of a new beginning for this new earth. With paragraph after paragraph of clunky dialogue, I sometimes found myself wishing that Stableford had internalized the old writer's cliche about showing-not-telling. Still, the subject matter of DARK ARARAT and the obvious importance of both first contact and what Stableford refers to as emortality make this novel worth reading--and worth reflecting upon.
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