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Title: Sentenced to Prism
Series: HumanX Commonwealth #5
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Evan Orgell: Troubleshooter, Fixer, Company Man, Confident. If there is a problem, you send in Evan Orgell and your problem gets taken care off. There is no one better on Samstead.
The Company has a problem. They’ve discovered a new world and their presence there isn’t quite exactly legal. But the payoffs could be huge, so they’ve sent down a full research team with labs and defensive outpost. But the team has gone silent. The Company needs Evan to go in alone and find out what is going on. One man, alone, won’t draw the attention of rival companies, the United Church or the Peace Forcers. Equipped with a suit of mobile armor with the latest gadgets, Evan is all set to investigate the mysteries of Prism.
Unfortunately, neither The Company or Evan are truly prepared for what Prism holds.
Evan finds the remains of the base and it is overrun by prismatic lifeforms feasting on all the rare-earth metals in the base. All of the staff, except for one Martine Ophemert, are dead. Evan begins the process of tracking down the missing staff member. During his pursuit, his suit, his superdupercan’tbreakcansolveeverything suit fails. Evan is forced to proceed on foot and comes into contact with a native, a scout named Azure. Azure saves Evan’s life and they head back to Azure’s Associative.
There Evan finds a fully functioning society. The lifeforms of Prism have all specialized and then come together instead of being multi-use creatures that standalone. Evan gives them the idea of a battery, as they are all photovores so they can function through the night. In turn they grow him a locator so he can track down Martine easier.
On the way to finding Martine’s tracker, the group is attacked and Evan is partially destroyed. The Associative rebuilds him so he is part biological and part Prismatic. A true synthesis of Prism and the Commonwealth. They rescue Martine, who has also been rebuilt by another Associative and they all head back to the base to try to contact The Company.
Turns out one of the former crew was working for a Rival Company and said Rival Company is on site when they return. After being taken prisoner and then rescued by their Associative, Evan and Martine send the scouting party packing. The Rival Company returns with a military complement, only to run into the Peace Forcers and the United Church, who Evan has contacted using a homegrown space contact thingy grown by the Prismites.
Prism is now considered a Class One world and must be left alone. Evan and Martine are left as Liasons considering their new “forms” and their mission is now to get the various Associatives across Prism to form one Super Associative. And the Associatives have already considered this, agreed and are planning on growing a spaceship so Evan and Martine can travel as official representatives of Prism to the Commonwealth.
“You cannot steal information, Evan,” Azure said reprovingly. “Library says you can only borrow it…”
That just made me laugh coming from an author. Being intimately involved with the de-drm’ing of ebooks back in the day, I’m very aware of arguments on both sides of the Information Must Be Free fight. Anyway, on to the review.
This is the fourth recorded time that I’ve read this. Much like Way-farer though, I had also read this several times in highschool and through Bibleschool. So in reality, this is probably my sixth or seventh time and I still love it. Reading it for the first time now I’d probably pooh-pooh this as mediocre SF and move right on. But this is one of those books that got its hooks in me early on and has never let go.
This was a “fun” idea and Foster executes it well in one book. There is a lot of time building things up before Evan gets transformed into a Prismite and yet each time it comes as a surprise to me. I suspect part of it is that events with him and Martine as Prismites are bigger in scope whereas the previous stuff is smaller so it comes across as a bigger portion even though its not.
Basically, I like this book no matter what. For me, this is the quintessential standalone science fiction adventure story. It is Perfect even while I acknowledge that it really isn’t. But reading it 4 times in 18 years? I think that speaks for itself and the fact that I still enjoyed it this time around as much as I did back in 2000. After my mis-adventure with Dragon’s Gold and realizing how my tastes have matured, it is good to find that some books can withstand even me being more mature * wink *
Another plus to reading the same book multiple times is that I can see how I have grown as a reviewer and not just as a reader. I think you’d agree that this review is VERY different from my first one in 2000.