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Robert J. Sawyer: Fossil Hunter

 

Crescent Blues Book Views Tor Books (Trade Paperback), ISBN 0765309734

Book: robert sawyer, fossil hunter
In Fossil Hunter, Robert J. Sawyer brings us Book Two of his Quintaglio Ascension series, which chronicles the awakening of this dinosaur-inspired race to their true position in the universe. Book One told of Afsan, a Quintaglio apprentice-astrologer, and his debunking, ala Galileo, of the Quintaglio view of the heavens. Book Two picks up the action with Afsan's son Toroca, who will play Quintaglio Darwin to his father's Galileo.

Afsan's studies of the heavens come with one terrible prediction: in the near future, gravitational forces will tear apart the moon that serves as the Quintaglio home world. If they want to survive as a race, the Quintaglios must find a way to journey to the stars -- and soon.

Enter Toroca, leader of the Geological Survey of Land. Charged with completing an inventory of all natural resources available for the new exodus project, Toroca follows in his father's footsteps and makes some rather startling discoveries. Not only has their world existed much longer than previously thought, not only can species change over time, but the Quintaglios and all life on their home world arrived there in a big, blue spaceship -- the tip of which Toroca uncovers with his trusty rock hammer.

As a backdrop to Toroca's geological and evolutionary discoveries, Sawyer shows us a Quintaglio society still recovering from the implications of Afsan's discoveries. The religious order struggles to absorb the changes. The Emperor, bereft of rule by divine right, suffers challenges to his authority. The people turn against the bloodpriests, those charged with controlling the population by culling the weak from each clutch of eggs. Once again Sawyer uses an utterly foreign society to show the uncertainties and mistakes that occur during times of transition.

The Quintaglio novels were first published in the early 1990s. I thank Tor for reissuing them so I can discover them this time around. Sawyer delivers that rare pleasure: a sequel that's even better than the first book. Full of suspense, well-developed characters, and honest pathos, Fossil Hunter deserves a first, or a second, read.

Kathryn Yelinek

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