Visions of Paradise

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Garden: A Hwarhath Science Fictional Romance

Anthropological science fiction is one of my favorite sub-genres, and the creation of alien worlds by such writers as Ursula K Le Guin, C.J. Cherryh and early Michael Bishop includes some of my favorite sf ever. Another outstanding writer in this area is Eleanor Arneson, whose novels A Woman of the Iron People and Ring of Swords and her novelette from a few years ago “The Potter of Bones” were excellent examples of anthropological sf. “The Garden: A Hwarhath Science Fictional Romance” is part of her ongoing examination of the Hwarhath people, furry, non-violent aliens whose men live primarily in space defending the planet from attack from humans with whom they have engaged in a long war, while the females stay behind and build the society. “The Garden” is the story of Akuin who is a gentle soul devoted to gardening and rejecting the male soldier society. The story is mostly filled with discussion more than action, much of it theoretical physics. In other hands this might have been boring or tedious, but Arneson makes it all interesting reading as it builds our knowledge of both the hwarhath people and their society. This story is recommended for those who enjoy slow, thoughtful culture-building.