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Southcrop Forest
Lorne Rothman
iUniverse, 170 pages

Southcrop Forest
Lorne Rothman
Lorne Rothman holds a Ph.D. in Zoology and studied ecology at the Universities of Toronto, British Columbia and Alberta. He lives in mid-town Toronto with his family, under the canopy of one of the finest stands of old growth oak in the city.

Lorne Rothman Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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Not being terribly familiar with the genre of modern day anthropomorphic forest fiction, I'm not sure exactly where Southcrop Forest should be placed. It has elements of Fantasy and elements of Science Fiction, but I think we can definitely call it Speculative Fiction.

The story tells the tale of a colony of Tent Caterpillars named Fur who have somehow developed a group mind and are befriended by Auja, the tree in which they live. Auja explains to the Fur that trees can talk to each other as long as they are connected. But, thanks to the efforts of humans, many trees groups have been cut off as the humans cut them down to replace them with their habitations. These human developments are also about to destroy the last of Southcrop Forest's farms where they have developed a new form of communication which allows them to share not only words but also experiences. The tree convinces Fur to journey first to the Farm and then to the northern forest to save their special knowledge.

Thus Fur sets out on the hero's quest. For the first part they are aided by the tree and its wisdom but, like all heroes, they eventually must go where their guide cannot follow. They meet new guides and face dangers untold but in the end, succeed in their quest, as all good heroes do. And, as with all heroes, the biggest danger is not the monsters outside (though there are many and our hero is hurt) it is the voices inside telling the hero to stop, to give up. Both are conquered but not with out effort and sacrifice and that's what gives the sacrifice some meaning.

There is very little doubt that the quest will be completed. To be honest, I think that it would have hurt the book if Lorne Rothman had decided to subvert the hero's quest. The author does add a lovely little twist to the ending which gives the book just a little bit more maturity. Even with this, the book is suitable for all ages. I would have no problem reading this to my 6-year-old daughter and, not only do I think she would enjoy it, I think she would learn more about the lifecycle of a forest. Plus, I'd get to make the voices for the different trees out loud instead of in my head. The trick would be making sure that they didn't all sound like ents.

Copyright © 2010 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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