Thoughts on “Colony”

So the first Ben Bova novel I’m going to look at is “Colony”. The basic idea of the story is that there is a big artificial colony called “Island One” in space, which is attempting to build a more ideal structure or society because Earth itself is wracked by political strife, with the big cities mostly abandoned with those who stay caught up in crime, violence, and starvation, with the planet run by a council whose members, other than the leader, are generally more concerned with their own self-interest than that of the planet, with terrorists fighting to gain independence and necessities, and the corporations trying to sabotage countries and the council using even the weather — with weather-making machines — to do so.

Bova talks a lot about technology in his world-building, especially the sorts of things he talked about in “The High Road”, like Solar Power Satellites. He also does a good job of creating an interesting set of political and social situations on Earth, using that to drive a lot of the drama. This is what generally works the best. The problem with the book is that it focuses a lot on the personal lives of two characters. The first is David Adams, who is the first genetically perfect test tube baby, born on Island One and who has never been to Earth until the events of the novel. The second is Bahjat, the daughter of one of the council members and a terrorist leader. Unfortunately, neither of these characters is all that interesting, and so their love affair isn’t interesting either. For the most part, it often seems like their stories get in the way of the more interesting one, despite the resolution of it being critical to resolving the main story.

Despite that, though, the book is interesting. It starts in the middle of the action, but Bova does a good job filling us in on the details without boring us. As I said, the political situation is interesting and the book flows well despite its main characters not being all that interesting. I liked it a lot better than any of the 2016 Hugo Award winners and would almost certainly read it again at some point.

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