Remnant Population

Remnant Population
Elizabeth Moon, 1996

Read Harder 2018 Challenge: A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60

Premise: Ofelia is tired. Tired of living in a company colony, tired of expectations, tired of her son and daughter-in-law's attitudes about what older women should and shouldn't do. So when the company tells them they're shutting down and moving, she decides she's going to follow her heart for once, and stay on the planet alone.

It's a mark of how compelling the setting and main character of this book are that I was bothered when it started to have a plot. Ofelia had just gotten some dang deserved peace and freedom, and now there was going to be a plot in this book? I was perturbed, honestly.

It all turned out alright, though, because the plot is pretty great. This book isn't shy about what it's trying to say about social attitudes about curiosity, learning, freedom, and what (or who) is "useful," but it never feels like a lesson, more like a discovery.

The native creatures that eventually show up were extraordinary, almost to the point of being unbelievable. But I one-hundred-percent believed in the incompetent bureaucracy of the human specialists, and in the dismissive attitudes seemingly all of them held toward Ofelia herself.

I adored her internal monologues struggling between what she was taught all her life and what she felt to be true or right. She's delightful. The book is delightful. I loved it.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

[Side note: I haven't read Blue Mars yet, but both Remnant Population and my beloved Memory were up for the Hugo the same year as it won, and I have to assume they split the vote for more compassionate, human-focused, emotionally moving sci-fi.]


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