Simplicity ain't what it used to be. The tiny planet of Morobe's Pea has been sold, and the new owner has a few ideas. He has renamed it Walden, and voluntary simplicity is now the rule. It will become a rural paradise for everyone who embraces Thoreau’s philosophy. But the previous tenants have their own ideas. And they are willing to set themselves on fire to defend them...
To keep from brooding about Vic and the Motu burn and the firefight, Spur looked up friends who had fallen out of his life. He surprised his cousin Land, who was living in Slide Knot in Southeast and working as a tithe assessor. He connected with his childhood friend Handy, whom he hadn't seen since the Alcazars had moved to Freeport, where Handy's mom was going to teach pastoral philosophy. She was still at the university and Handy was an electrician. He tracked down his self-reliance school sweetheart, Leaf Benkleman, only to discover that she had emigrated from Walden to Kolo in the Alumar system. Their attempt to catch up was frustrating, however, because the Cooperative's censors seemed to buzz every fifth word Leaf said. Also, the look on her face whenever he spoke rattled Spur. Was it pity? He was actually relieved when she cut their conversation short.
Despite the censors, talking to Leaf whetted Spur's appetite for making contact with the upside. He certainly wouldn't get the chance once he
This is a very good read; very well crafted.
The setting is Walden, a planet taken over by minimalist agrarian oriented colonists. They wrested the planet from the Pukpuks, who were technologically oriented, and basically raped the planet of natural resources. The Pukpuls are now waging a guerilla war against the Waldenites. The Waldenites are reforesting the planet and the Pukpuks are torching the forests, sometimes dying in the process by becoming "torches", using their own bodies to start fires. To confuse matters, some Waldenites support the PukPuks.
Our protaganist is Spur, a Gary Cooper of quiet guy who is a volunteer firefighter from a small village. He has been severely burned trying to save his brother-in-law who was evidently a "torch" working for the Pukpuks. He has nightmares about his brother-in-law. How does he tell his wife after promising to protect him. Firefighting seems to be a losing battle, his wife is divorcing him, and he really is confused, not really understanding the momentous events going on around him or how to respond.
To help healing, he contacts the "upsiders" who are very strange technologically sophisticated off planet humans inhabiting a large number of settled worlds. They provide a robot doctor bot to heal him and come to Walden to check out what is going on. Big doings for the simple farmer Waldenites who have proscribed most technology in their simple lives.
The middle of the story seems slow, taken up with character development, at first seeming like a soap opera, but designed for the reader to get to know the characters well. And you will get to liking and identifying with them.
A fire ensues, threatening his village, Spur tries to control it, doubting his abilities, but using his training until help arrives.
During the chaotic fire and the firefighting, secret agendas are revealed involving the the off planet upsiders, Spur's wife and the Pukpuks which lead to a very interesting and surprising ending.
Well told story -- I could have explored the society much longer than the book allowed for...
Overall a well told story -- some of the descriptions of the firefighting at the end were a little longer than they needed to be, but I liked the characterizations and the Walden-inspired world Kelly describes.