Review: Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson

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Posted on : 4/10/2017 09:48:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Darwinia Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3/5 stars. I'd call it 3.5 stars. Just a little short of what I'd call a 4-star book.

Darwinia has one foot firmly planted in the early 20th-century western culture and the other foot planted.....somewhere else.

For the first half of the book, we follow various characters as they navigate a world where the better part of Europe and the UK have been replaced by an alternative biome. Geographically the "new" old world is close to the same. Rivers make bends at different places. Bogs and marshes appear in different places. Mountain ranges rise up in a familiar but not quite identical fashion.

There appear to be ancient remains of creatures unlike anything previously seen by humanity.

The world is in shock. British citizens around the world work to return to what was formerly Britain to rebuild what was lost. Citizens from various European nations do the same thing, but with less enthusiasm and effect.

With the loss of Europe, including Russia, America is left as the sole power in the world. The American government has decided that this "new" old world should be open to all for settlement rather than remaining the province for European expatriates to re-settle. A low-level conflict ensues.

Instead of trench warfare on a massive scale, we instead see a low-intensity conflict conducted that mainly involves small-scale raids. History has changed, but it still echoes.

And that is where the foot planted firmly somewhere else comes into play. Just when you think this is another alternate history tale, you discover that it is something else. Something more.

Something that involves conflict on a much grander scale.

I found the concept to be interesting. The characters were engaging and the events kept me coming back. The hook...that conflict on a grander scale...just lost me a bit. After the first half of the book intimating questions about religion and evolution, the shift was not only jarring, it undermined the earlier philosophical debate.

Curiously, this was a finalist for the Hugo award for best novel in 1999. This wouldn't be something that I would select for that level of recognition.

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