This novel is a deeply touching story of the hatred and intolerance one small group must endure as they check out an existence on the inhospitable surface of a new world. The author’s unaffected style of prose helps to drive home the conflicting emotions experienced by the main characters.
Writing in a simple, straightforward style author Brenda Cooper presents her first novel, which beautifully and honestly brings to life the struggles of a dwindling human colony as they continue to try to establish a permanent, thriving community in the wilderness of the extremely geologically active planet of Fremont. However, the plight of the colonists is filtered through the point of view of some who are considered to be not necessarily human, but who must, in their own way, also struggle for survival. The Silver Ship and the Sea is a powerful story of injustice, the bonds of friendship and, ultimately, acceptance and redemption.
Sister and brother Chelo and Joseph Lee are spoils of war. They are altered, having inherited extensive genetic enhancements from their parents, who, themselves also received theirs from their parents. The two siblings, along with a few other altered children, are a constant reminder of a terrible conflict between unaltered colonists and a group of enhanced individuals who tried to settle on the same planet.
The colonists of the small, frontier town of Aristos are purists. They look upon the enhanced as abominations, an affront to God. To them, altered is an unclean word, an epithet. Having left the super technological society of Earth behind, they made their way to another world to try to start over. But soon they were forced to flee as the altered and their technologies caught up with them. On Fremont they hoped to finally be free from the influence of Earth but then another ship crewed by altered individuals landed near their fledgling settlement. The resulting clash between the two groups eventually led to the deaths of several dozen colonists and enhanced adults. The remaining altered returned to their ship and departed, never to return.
Chelo, her brother and their friends, all small children at the time, all lost their biological parents in the battle and were left behind when the others retreated. But the colonists decided to spare them and some families even reluctantly, grudgingly agreed to take them in. And so, for years, Chelo and the others have lived under the aegis of those who simultaneously hate and fear them while making use of their many unique physical and mental talents.
Joseph’s particular talent is that he is able to access the colonists’ data network and read the streams of information without the aid of any special equipment. He can perform this task naturally and far better than any of the other altered children. The residents of Aristos use this network to keep themselves abreast of climatic and geological activity in their area, as well as keep track of any dangerous native animals that might be nearby. When he is under, Joseph can feel the environment as if he is really there.
As the novel opens, a survey team which includes Chelo and Joseph’s adoptive parents sets out from Aristos to work in the highlands south of the town. With Joseph monitoring the network, everything is going as planned, until the network registers an earthquake. Deeply entrenched in the data streams, Joseph feels the pain and terror of the members of the survey team as they are buried and killed by a landslide triggered by the earthquake and goes into shock. From that point on he refuses to enter the network again, a development that does not please the town’s administrators, since it was heavily damaged in the quake and Joseph is the only one skilled enough to fix it completely.
Having barely tolerated these young people who they don’t even consider to be human all of these years, the community leaders see this as an opportunity to decide their fate once and for all. They decree that Chelo and the others must venture out into the wilderness on their own to locate and repair all of the damaged sections of the network.
Overwhelmed by feelings of betrayal and hopelessness, the young people know they have no choice but to comply. They put together a caravan and head out into Fremont’s untamed wilds. Little do they know that this excursion will turn out to be much more than they could have imagined. Before they return to Aristos, the young altered will find themselves on an odyssey of self discovery. There is one, Jenna, who is the only altered adult to have stayed behind after the conflict. Seriously scarred and missing an arm, she is still a formidable individual. Shunning the town and its human residents, she chooses instead to roam alone through Fremont’s wild places and sees this as the perfect opportunity to teach Chelo and her friends all about their heritage.
A second book featuring these same characters, entitled Reading the Wind, is due out soon and a third novel is in the works. More about the author can be found at