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By Mary Rosenblum
ISBN: 9780765316042
Review by: Kim Wells


The jacket reads: "A smart, sexy and savvy future thriller from a former Hugo finalist and winner of Asimov's Reader's award."

It's no secret, if you check out my other reviews, that I am very much a fan of sci-fi and fantasy. I have read some of the "greats" of sci-fi, from its so-called "Golden Age" to cyberpunk and beyond. What I like most about sci-fi is its ability to explore the "what if" in society. What if things were just a little bit different from today, what would we, what would the world, look like? There is potential, and choice, and a fascination with possibility in all good sci-fi.

When I like sci-fi, I like it to be character driven, plot-heavy, and supported by real-seeming science. In these requirements, much contemporary sci-fi-- too heavy on pulp tv show serials or jargon-laden "serious" stuff, fails me, and I put the book aside.

Mary Rosenblum's Horizons has all the good stuff. The world of Rosenblum's novel looks very much like a believable future. It should appeal to readers of plain-old contemporary realism, too, because it is not a future awash with things that make it seem too nerdy, too much like a Star Trek episode. If those readers aren't careful, though, Rosenblum's writing will hook you, and you'll be hanging out with the rest of us sci-fi nerds.

The novel's setting, which feels just enough in the future to seem perhaps like a world my children could inhabit someday, makes this work as hard sci-fi. Some of the really sci-fi elements include: the protagonist's empathic ability, her nanotechnology enhancements, her birth as a half-twin (it's complicated, and involves cloning), as well as the novel's setting on "platform" cities which orbit the earth, the "next evolutionary step" for humaity. But the novel's grasp of real feeling human motivations, politics that feel very contemporary, and a touch of mystery and even romance, make this a great read, no matter what its genre.

Nowadays, I have to fit my pleasure reading into short, stolen breaks while babies are napping or taking their bath, supervised by daddy. This novel truly provided much pleasure to those stolen moments. It is interesting, with lot-driven characterizations of real humans with real human problems, in an alien setting. I hope to see more of Rosenblum in the future, which, if she's right at all, will be complex , and far from boring.

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