Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review:The Colors of Space By Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Colors of Space By Marion Zimmer Bradley

I remember reading this a long time ago. Some time after the 1963 edition was published. I decided to read it again and see if it still stood well against time.

Bart Steele is a young Vegan who has come to Earth to study at the academy. He is a product of a human and Mentorian pair, although he lost his mother, the Mentorian, early in his life. His father owns a space shipping business that struggles as it must against the monopoly that the Lhari race has over interstellar flight. The Lhari have made it clear that only Lhari can survive while the warp-drive is active and that all other races must go into cold-sleep.

This monopoly causes Bart and many others to have a prejudice against the Lhari.

On graduation Bart is to meet his father at the Lhari spaceport where he will return home. Bart will never see his father again and will be catapulted into a universe of danger and intrigue. He discovers that his father and several others have died while trying to obtain the secrets of the Lhari and of the warp-drive. Bart is thrust into his father's world while he's become a fugitive from Lhari authorities.

The Lhari are not able to perceive colors the way humans and Mentorians do and this becomes a major plot device or I should say part of several plot devices. This is the only part that my more mature insight has quibbles about during this read. There are some big things that are hinged on this color disability that might not work quite as well as I once believed. One major one is that the Lhari could not tell something was red hot because they couldn't see the red. Since often survival hinges on such things there would likely have been another way for them to discern that a surface they were working on in their ship might be hot.

Most everything else in the story seems to stand the test of time and still seems to work quite well to move the plot along. Since not enough is revealed about how a specific disguise is worked out, it might seem a bit thin but it still works here.

The story itself beyond being science fiction seems to contain a mix of moral elements as regards prejudices and race hate. It becomes a story of a young mans journey to grow to maturity in his thinking and his beliefs.


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