Remnant Population

Elizabeth Moon
Remnant Population Cover

Remnant Population


I really enjoyed this book. The beginning started a little slow for me. The book opens with an older woman, a member of a colony, deciding to stay behind when the colony is forced to leave the planet. I liked the backstory that the colony essentially has to move because the corporation that started the colony lost hte contract - I find it very believable that future colonization will continue to be subject to corporate wrangling and papework. The main character herself, and her decision to stay behind, secretly - both initially gave me a strong "When I Am Old, I Shall Wear Purple" vibe that made me wonder if I'd like the book. However, the author pretty quickly introduces some suspense: The main character, once abandoned on the planet, discovers that there is a previously unknown indigeonous specis on the planet, which then attacks a group of new human colonists. This added both suspense (will the main characters also be attacked?) and mystery (how could humans have been on the planet for so many years without knowing they weren't alone?)

The story really hits its stride once the main character actually encounters the indigenous species (i keep not wanting to call them "aliens" because it's really humans who are the aliens on this planet.) I thought the decision to make the main character a really "normal" woman was fantastic, and allows Moon to really pry apart some standard science fiction tropes about who gets to be the center of a story. She's not an explorer, she's not a scientist. She's a housewife and mother who is thrust into extraordinary circumstances. And the circumstances do not reuqire her to become "better" than she'd previously been; in fact, her strength appears to be her lifetime of practical problem-solving and learning to observe and respond to the needs of others. The merits of having an "every day" person in the role of the hero become evern more obvious once a crew of more traditional science fiction "heroes' (miilitary officers and brillian scientists) show up to try to study the "alien" species. I also appreciated that, while the story is not without violence and tension, the overall feel of the story is gentle and optimistic.

I thought the writing was very good. My only complaint is that, presumably in the service of being as empathetic and compassionate to as many characters in the book as possible, the persecptive shifts to follow some of the other characters - both other humans and the indigenous species. I didn't like the other human characters as much (and suspect that the author didn't, either), so these parts just weren't as strong. And, frankly, I found the (mercifully few and very short) sections from the indigenous species' perspective to be a little silly and overwritten. But none of this detracted from my overall enjoyment of the story.