Monday, February 3, 2020

Gemini, by Ray Jay Perreault (author), Ed Waldorph (narrator)

Ray Jay Perreault, August 2017

In a solar system with twin planets orbiting in the same orbit on opposite sides of the star, we meet two alien species, the Raog and the Ora.

The Raog are peaceful, cooperative, with a society that shares out jobs and roles based on ability, not gender or other divisions of society, with the goal being families that grow and thrive. Individual or family wealth isn't a thing they work for. The focus is growing their food crop, jabon. Beyond raising jabon, there are Raog who ask questions about the world and the space beyond it. The main function of their space program is maintaining weather satellites to help in the cultivation of jabon, but Dr. Wong, his son Ornage, and others are asking questions about the wider universe. Dr. Wong thinks he's discovered another planet, on the other side of their sun, and wants to send an uncrewed ship to investigate.

The Raog don't look like humans, but they're bipedal and apparently mammalian.

The Ora are insects.

They have a far more structured, disciplined society than the Ora, and a world that's less bountiful for their needs. They too have figured out that there's another planet, in the same orbit, on the other side of their sun, and they're not engaging in intellectual inquiry. The Ora want to know if the other planet might offer the resources they lack. Their expedition is already set to launch when the Raog satellite shows up. And they're not interested in sharing, or trade.

The Raog are in for some major challenges, that will change their worldview, force them to invent "defensive tools" and fight, and expand their understanding of the universe. Starting with, of course, the fact that they are not alone.

I like the Raog. They're interesting characters, more complex than a brief overview would suggest. They start out naive, but they don't stay that way. At the same time, while their beliefs need to change, they don't let go of their values. The Ora, also, are not just bloodthirsty villains. Some of them, certainly, are not good guys. Yet there are others, all through their society, who aren't happy with the current leaders, and weren't even before the invasion of the Raog's planet, Varo. They want change, and change may be possible for their society.

I listened to the audiobook, and I'm sorry to say that Ed Waldorph is not a terrible narrator, but not a particularly good one, either. It's sometimes difficult to be sure who is intended to be speaking, and there are some Raog words that even by the end I wasn't sure what the intended pronunciation was. I've heard Perreault narrate his own books, and I really would have preferred that he do this one, but obviously that may not have been convenient for him.

Overall, though, Perreault's books are interesting and fun, with the clean, sharp storytelling of the Golden Age of science fiction, without the unfortunate social attitudes of the Golden Age. Strongly recommended.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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