Calico Reaction (calico_reaction) wrote in bookish,
Calico Reaction

Robson, Justina: Natural History

Natural History (2003)
Written by: Justina Robson
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 325 (Trade Paperback)

The premise: ganked from IMAGINE A WORLD... 
Half-human, half-machine, Voyager Isol was as beautiful as a coiled scorpion–and just as dangerous. Her claim that she’d found a distant but habitable earthlike planet was welcome news to the rest of the Forged. But it could mean the end of what was left of the humanity who’d created and once enslaved them.

It was on behalf of the “unevolved” humans that Professor Zephyr Duquesne, cultural archaeologist and historian of Earth’s lost worlds, was chosen by the Gaiasol military authority to uncover the truth about this second “earth.” And her voyage, traveling inside the body of Isol, will take her to the center of a storm exploding across a spectrum of space and time, dimension and consciousness. 

On an abandoned planet, in a wrinkle of time, Isol and Zephyr will find a gift and a curse: a power so vast that once unlocked, it will change the universe forever. With civil war looming, Zephyr’s perilous journey will lead her to a past where one civilization mysteriously vanished...and another may soon follow.

My Rating

Worth the Cash: but ONLY to the more experienced science fiction reader. Rosbon's Natural History, despite being something of a space opera and something of a first contact story, is actually quite hard SF when you look at all the jargon. Oh, it's poetic jargon, no doubt, but the nature of the book is such that unless you're USED to reading harder, more technical SF, then this may not be the book for you, and it's certainly not the first Robson book you should try (for your first Robson, unless you're SUPER HEAVY into SF, I'd recommend Mappa Mundi or Keeping It Real). The book itself is good. It picked up, for me, in the middle and started moving in interesting intellectual directions, and it's the kind of book that, while not engaging me on an emotional level in regards to the characters, engaged me so on an intellectual level that I kind of want to read it again. Hell, I want to give the sequel another shot, now that I've read this. That'll be a future project, to read the two back-to-back, but as it stands, it's a good book, but rather difficult to get into. SF novices/light SF readers should start elsewhere in her collection.

Review style: I know for a fact that some of you had some difficulties with this book, so let's sit down and talk about the pluses, the minuses, and how all of it adds up on the end. I want to talk about some pop culture influences I see in the book, as well as its themes of slavery, individualism versus community, and what the price of change and evolution really means. Spoilers? Yes. But this may be a book you want to be spoiled for, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Sometimes it helps to know where a book is going so that you have a focus when you start, you know? At any rate, unless you're trying to avoid spoilers at all costs, you're welcome to click the link below for the full review at my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome! :)


Happy Reading!

DON'T MISS OUT: Here's your chance to win a Corine Solomon novel from Ann Aguirre, and you get to pick either the first book, Blue Diablo or the second book, Hell Fire, and it's open to anywhere the Book Depository ships. Interested? Click here.


Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

May: Natural History by Justina Robson
June: Sunshine by Robin McKinley
July: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff


  • The Quiet American, by Graham Greene

    A Vietnam novel that predicted the Vietnam War. William Heinemann London, 1955, 180 pages Alden Pyle, an idealistic young American, is…

  • A Half-Built Garden, by Ruthanna Emrys

    A "queer Jewish feminist" SF novel makes First Contact a big talky, fetishy, feelingsfest., 2022, 340 pages On a warm March night…

  • Atomic Habits, by James Clear

    The best-selling self-help book really only has one idea, but it's not a bad one. Avery, 2018, 306 pages Tiny Changes, Remarkable…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.