cover image Lovelock


Orson Scott Card. Tor Books, $21.95 (285pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85732-5

The Hugo- and Nebula-winning Card ( The Ships of Earth ) teams up here with a relative newcomer (Kidd has published several non-SF novels with Card's own publishing company, Hatrack River) to produce a moral fable about freedom, responsibility and the arrogance of human beings in treating other living things as unfeeling property. The narrator, Lovelock, is a genetically enhanced capuchin monkey trained to function as a ``witness,'' recording the life and thoughts of the person to whom he is attached. Lovelock's master is Carol Jeanne Cocciolone, the world's leading ``gaiologist'' and now part of an interstellar colonization effort. As Carol Jeanne's family (including her overbearing mother-in-law and browbeaten father-in-law) settle into the strange, self-contained world of the interstellar Ark (whose population is divided into small agricultural communities as practice for their future lives on a new world), Lovelock begins to chafe under the bonds of his psychological conditioning. Increasingly unhappy with the injustice of his servitude and the indifference of his master, he plots to break free. Card and Kidd's passionate depiction of Lovelock's plight, as well as their insightful portrayal of the various human characters, makes for a gripping read. These very elements, however, tend to drown out any SF interest. In addition, but for Lovelock's enhancement, the novel might almost have been set in a small American town of a half-century past. (July)