NESFA Members' Reviews

Mission Child

by Maureen F. McHugh

Avon/EOS, 1998, ISBN 0-380-97456-8

A book review by Elisabeth Carey

Parts of this have appeared elsewhere, in Asimov's and in Starlight 1. It's the story of a girl raised in an appropriate-technology mission, on a lost-and-rediscovered colony world. Not all of the offworlders are practicing appropriate-technology in their dealings with the colonials. First Janna's village and family are killed by a hostile neighboring clan, then the relatives she and her new husband flee to are killed, then her husband dies, and then Janna's life really gets difficult. Right before everyone got killed in her native village, the missionary there practiced some inappropriate technology of her own, on Janna, and it takes years for her to work out how this has changed her. Meanwhile, she learns a great deal more about her own world and the offworlders than she ever suspected. It's well-written, and it kept me turning the pages. Quite frequently, I wanted to give Janna a whack upside the head. It's got memorable characters and memorable scenes, but the day after finishing it, I had to pick it up and flip through it again to remember what the plot was, insofar as it had one. Parts of it have significant plot. I think it would have been stronger, if frankly organized and labeled as a collection of short stories about Janna and her world.

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