Friday, 23 April 2010

"Search the Sky" by Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth

Hot on the heels of reading "The Space Merchants", I devoured "Search the Sky", another collaborative work between Frederick Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth.

There's a long tradition of stories in which a man whose world (and world view) are close to our own travels through a series of (from our perspective) oddly unbalanced worlds. You could pick half of the plots of any of the Star Trek series as examples ("Ryker finds love on a world where everyone is androgynous and heterosexuality is a crime"). These episodic sketches are the bread and butter of science fiction. Take the world, put it a bit out of balance, give it a spin, and watch it crash down. "Gulliver's Travels" is another wonderful example. A man steeped in the ideas of his age has his beliefs tested as he experiences different societies in his journeys.

In "Search the Sky", we follow a space traveler (Ross) who travels from a relatively normal (if stagnant) colony and visits isolated Earth colonies in search of answers to his colony's problems. He jumps from one monocultural frying pan to another, testing ideas about age, gender, and diversity itself. He returns enriched, and vows to share that experience with anyone who'll listen.

Travel tests your limits, shows you different ways of viewing the world and handling even the simplest of questions common to all people ("What's for dinner?" is an example you could spend a lifetime mapping out). This kind of diversity is key to the strength of the human race in "Search the Sky", and I'd like to believe it's the same with life.

This is a fun book, and a quick read. Highly recommended.

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