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A Thursday Lunchtime Review: Playing God

Sarah Zettel is a relatively new SF voice. While she's published 6 novels, she's yet to make her mark this side of the Atlantic. That's a pity, as her mix of hard and soft SF is intriguing, intellectually challenging, and - ultimately - deeply satisfying.

Playing God is her third novel, a tale of ecological collapse, violence, and possible redemption. The alien Dedelphi, victims of internecine violence on a scale that makes our human troubles seem like playground squabbles, have ruined their home world. The experiences of their refugees among the scattered commercial tribes of a star-faring humanity have led them to ask for human intervention. But do the humans have the right to play god with the Dedelphi? Hi-tech biosciences meet real politik in a conflict that appears to have no resolution, unless a few humans and Dedelphi break the rules that lock their civilsations into a collision course.

Zettel isn't writing about tomorrow. There's a school of thought that describes SF as the literature of today, as its many "what-ifs" allow us to explore the ramifications of our complex world. In Playing God Zettel uses the genetically programmed Dedelphi to explore the reasons for violence in our society. Are we driven to hate the "other", or is there another road. And if there is, can we go down it alone, or do we need to be dragged kicking and screaming as our instincts pull us back onto the old paths?

A worthy book, and one that teaches without preaching.

Enjoy. I know I did