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    Review of DROWNING WORLD by Alan Dean Foster


    Del Rey, February 2003

    It rains all the time on the dismal world of Fluvan, and fast-evolving parasite forms make survival an always dubious proposition. But that doesn't stop the natives from wishing to get rid of the fast-breeding Deyzara. Generations before, the Commonwealth, imported the elephant-trunked Deyzara to handle the work that the proud Sakuntala natives refused to undertake. Now the Deyzara run the shops, own the businesses, and enjoy closer relations with the human overlords than do the Sakuntala themselves. Genocide will bring down horrible consequences, yet simply ignoring the threat will lead to improverishment and eventual elimination of the Sakuntala from their own world.

    Human Administrator Lauren Matthias has her hands full. Not only is the decades-old animosity between Sakuntala and Deyzara threatening to break into genocidal warfare, a human bio-prospector has been lost and his ship, impossibly, isn't sending signals. Finally, her hormones are being stirred to a tizzy by hunk prospector Sethwyn Case. Of course, the Commonwealth's enemies, the Aann, are always willing to take advantage of any problems, and problems Matthias, and the entire planet, have in plenty.

    Author Alan Dean Foster (see more reviews of novels by Foster) creates an interesting world with Fluvan and its ultra-competitive life forms. By switching back and forth from the political (in the person of Matthias) and personal (in the person of the lost prospector and the Deyzara/Sakuntala rescue team sent to find him), Foster lets the reader see the world's problems at multiple levels.

    In many ways, the political scenerio being played out is reminiscent of several earth-conflicts (the plight of the Indians brought to the African continent and abandoned by the Imperialists who brought them there comes to mind), raising the power of DROWNING WORLD, but also increasing Foster's responsibility in dealing with the problems in a convincing way. Instead, the Deyzara refugee camps become minor annoyances with bad smells, the issue of Deyzara population growth is never dealt with, and a timely discovery manages to defuse much of the tension.

    DROWNING WORLD starts out strongly, delivers an interesting world with emotionally compelling parallels to our own recent history, but finally shortchanges the resolution.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 3/05/03

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