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In the Company of Others
Julie E. Czerneda
DAW Books, 565 pages


Luis Royo
In the Company of Others
Julie E. Czerneda
Julie Czerneda is a Canadian science fiction writer who lives at the edge of a forest in Orillia, Ontario, with her husband and two children. A former researcher in animal communication, she has also written non-fiction that ranges from biology texts to the use of science fiction in developing literacy.

Julie E. Czerneda Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ties of Power
SF Site Review: A Thousand Words For Stranger
SF Site Review: Beholder's Eye
A Thousand Words for Stranger excerpt
Amazon.com interview

Past Feature Reviews
A review by James Seidman

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In a world filled with sequels, prequels, and series, it is increasingly rare to find a good single book with an ending. That sad fact is part of what makes In the Company of Others, Julie Czerneda latest work, so attractive. The author has succeeded in creating an epic story and fitting it into a single book.

As with most of her stories, In the Company of Others is focused around an alien life form, albeit one that is offstage for much of the story. The setting is a future where humans have terraformed several planets for colonization. Would-be colonists have already flooded the space stations meant as transfer points when Earth discovers that all these planets have become contaminated. The Quill, small alien filaments carried by a few people for their relaxing effect, have somehow morphed into a deadly threat that condemns to death anyone who lands. Earth, fearing that it could become contaminated as well, denies return to anyone in space. Thus the space stations turn from transfer points to terribly crowded permanent homes for stranded humans, wondering what Quill are and what happened to the promised land of the terraformed planets.

Gail Smith travels from Earth to one of these stations upon a university research vessel. She is searching for Aaron Pardell, whom she believes to be the mythical "Survivor" who has actually survived contact with the Quill. Her goal is nothing less than to be the saviour of the human race by finally solving the mystery of the Quill. Her arrival on the station throws its precarious social balance into chaos. Both Smith and Pardell must navigate the unique and complex politics and challenges of ship and station.

With a story that is fresh and unpredictable, In the Company of Others makes a gripping read. Czerneda also continues her tradition of having richly developed, believable characters, which makes her stories a joy to read. Also, unlike so many stories, In the Company of Others is well-researched and technically believable. It added up to a book I was ready to read again as soon as I finished it.

Copyright © 2001 James Seidman

James Seidman is the V.P. of Engineering at a startup technology company. Consequently, he needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and fifty-five fish in Naperville, Illinois.


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