Dr. Mackenzie Connor, Mac to those who know her, is a prime example of the mono-focused human; interested only in what can be related to her research, not having what other people chose to call ‘a normal life’; something which seems to be a conscious choice made so long ago it has become part of herself. The only person to come close to her is Emily, another scientist, and together they study salmon. Then one day a scientist from not only another world and of another species but another field altogether, chaperoned by what seemingly is a harmless papershuffler, a bureaucrat, intrudes on her in her field work, claiming Mac could hold the key to the survival of several species.
I have not read enough by Czerneda to know if this is a recurring theme but the story is not far away from that of In the Company of Others (my ‘review’ here) – alien species threatening the survival of the known world, female scientist solves the mystery while falling in love on the way. It’s a fun ride though so I can’t complain.
The characters are nicely done and the story is mostly well paced and despite a vague feeling of being a brew consisting of lots of well known elements Czerneda manages to make this dish have it’s own personal flavour.
If I had a problem with anything it was the frequent infodumps, especially at the beginning of the story. The style is supposed to be tight third person, which means we can only know what the protagonist know. But every now and then things she obviously know well enough not to react to are explained to us. An example: To Mac the tech called ‘imps’ should be ubiquitous – their use should be made clear to us by showing her using them. Instead we get a paragraph (or was it two?) describing the etymology behind the word, and what the thing is used for.
These dumps were not frequent enough to do more than annoy me slightly, though.
The book is first in a series of three called The Species Imperative but the essential parts of the story gets their resolution before the last page. Despite this I am ready to devour the next one (Migration), had I had it in my hand. Not because of any loose threads but because I want to know what will happen next – I’m not ready to abandon the scientifically minded Mac just yet.