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A Darkling Sea par James L. Cambias
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A Darkling Sea (édition 2014)

par James L. Cambias

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3092065,031 (3.85)18
On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don't disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they're free to conduct their missions in peace. But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war. Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives--and the future of human exploration--is anything but certain, inA Darkling Seaby James Cambias.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:sci901
Titre:A Darkling Sea
Auteurs:James L. Cambias
Info:New York : Tor, 2014.
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Mots-clés:to-read

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A Darkling Sea par James L. Cambias

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Affichage de 1-5 de 20 (suivant | tout afficher)
A rating of 4.85. Excellent novel of first contact. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
This book began with a great hook - an office bet on who can find the most interesting and unique ways to kill media darling, showman, and all around jerk to be around, Henri Kerlerec. Nobody foresaw the agency of his death (less than a dozen pages into the book) at the claws of the native Ilmatar, who naively dissect him thinking him an unintelligent animal.


And then the book trips over itself for a while. Cambias becomes lost in setting the stage, something he could have forgone without any loss to the story. Not helping the story is that our other space faring species, the Sholan, read more like a foreign culture than a foreign species. While there are some physiological differences noted, they feel like TV aliens with pointed ears and green blood - different, but only in culture. Otherwise they are just humans with rubber suits, bent on protecting us from repeating their own mistakes.


What really saves this book - from the portraying an alien species perspective - are the natives of the ocean depths themselves, the Ilmataran. It's not a fair analogy, but reading their POV is like being in the head of a sonar wielding lobster. I was reminded of Vinge's Spiders from A Deepness in the Sky, especially with the ease with which Cambias relates the world of a blind, ocean vent dwelling creature. Cambias really shines when dealing with the Ilmataran, and you get a sense of the potential here. As a first novel, it was good, and I look forward to seeing what else Cambias writes in the future.


The ARC of this novel was provided for review by Tor.
( )
  kodermike | Jul 31, 2020 |
A bit of a slow start, but nicely picked up speed. Really effective creation of an alien species -- I envisioned the Ilmatarians as giant, eyeless lobsters. The Sholens were a bit harder to "see," but I love how Cambias described them, especially their bonobo-like custom of engaging in sex to show subserviance or to calm each other. Very good read! ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
"... the closest we can come to Star Trek without paying royalties."

Indeed.

So we've got a three way that includes intelligent fish, six-legged cultural purists, and... yeah, you got it... upstart humans. No conflict to start with, mostly just a fact-finding mission trying to get to know the locals without interfering, just like the Prime Directive says, and then we've got COMPLICATIONS.

You know. A bit of curious murder by a people who don't know it's murder. They're just curious. No biggie. I can barely hear the screams. After all, he's just a cameraman. Decent start. Reminds me of a blast-from the past homage to old SF. To me, it seemed like a direct homage to Brin's [b:Startide Rising|234501|Startide Rising (The Uplift Saga, #2)|David Brin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1435151135s/234501.jpg|251634], although, to be perfectly honest, I preferred Brin's Dolphins. There was a lot going on under the surface, there, unlike the wide, but less deep, look at the locals. Cool worldbuilding, for all that. I like the attempt to bring a world to life from under so much ice, but I do complain that it still seems like a direct analogue of "regular people". Really? Just a society of shopkeepers and cultural mores closer to the Greeks or Arabs, in that guests under one's roof is considered inviolate?

Because of that, I want to read this novel like an indictment of our culture, but no, it tries too hard to be a deep and complex society meeting and interacting with two alien species and navigating through THEIR conflict. Damn the humans and their meddling. They never know when to butt the hell out, do they?

It's not a bad novel, but it feels like it ought to belong in the 60's or 70's set of SF novels, and NOT the New Wave set.

It's really, ultimately, only a First Contact novel, and it's fairly entertaining. Not extremely original or surprising, though. I kept expecting the glorious "Gun" to show up and prove that the yokel locals "have the power" to resist the invaders. *sigh*

Well, I can give props to the author for being a long-respected group of GURPs authors known for some really excellent worldbuilding props. I can't say they're fantastic at actual STORYTELLING, but this attempt wasn't exactly bad. Perhaps it was a bit old-hat, but it certainly wasn't bad. I felt like I was taking a dip in an old-style pool.

Perhaps I would have liked this more had I figured I was actually reading a Past Master's Old Script. I just wanted to see a higher dedication to originality and excitement. You know, not just a repelling of invaders and a subtext that right must always pursue might.

( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
On the icy moon Ilmatar, a group of human researchers is studying the intelligent lifeforms that live at the bottom of its sea. When a tragic misunderstanding results in the death of one of the humans, they draw the attention of the Sholen, a previously-encountered race driven by a code of non-interference. They demand the humans withdraw from Ilmatar, and all traces of their presence be erased...

A Darkling Sea is a fairly light, quick-moving tale of first contact in which none of the three conflicting factions (apart from a few rogue members) can strictly be called villains. The Ilmatarans and humans only want to learn from each other, while the Sholen are trying to preserve the natural integrity of a civilization.

The best thing about the book is the portrayal of the Ilmatarans. They are large, lobster-like creatures that communicate by taps and clicks, and see their surroundings via sonar pings. The narrative rotates more or less evenly among the three races, so roughly a third of it is from the Ilmatarans' perspective. Their communication is "translated" for the reader, but this makes them seem no less alien. It's rather like watching a subtitled film. You get a complete feel for what it might be like to live as one of these beings, and it is fascinating. And these crustaceans have more personality each than all of the characters in the last bloated epic fantasy I tried to read.

Recomended musical accompaniment: Aqua by Edgar Froese, Substrata by Biosphere. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
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Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

—Job 38: 29-30
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By the end of his second month at Hitode Station, Rob Freeman had come up with 85 ways to murder Henri Kerlerec.
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On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don't disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they're free to conduct their missions in peace. But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war. Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives--and the future of human exploration--is anything but certain, inA Darkling Seaby James Cambias.

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