The book opens with a piece of a memoir from a woman on Earth who’s considering going on the ship, then the middle section consists of the rotating points of view of an extended family a hundred and seventy-five years later as the ship is approaching a planet, then it ends with a piece of memoir from a woman living on the new planet a hundred years after that. The way they live, the expectations they have of family and work and decision making are all very unusual, but they take them for granted and so I absorb them naturally as I’m reading. The characters, whose ancestors came from Japan, Costa Rico, and Norway, speak Esperanto, and Esperanto is used in the text for a few words for things we don’t have, which gives it an unusual flavor.
This is only the second time I’ve read this, as I completely missed it when it was published in 1997. I think of a second reading of a book as completing my read, a first reading is preliminary and reactions to a first reading are suspect. I loved this book just as much the second time. It’s very well written and very absorbing. It isn’t a cheerful story though—thematically it’s about worlds and boundaries, and it’s about those things very much on a human scale. This very much isn’t a fantasy of political agency, one of the things it faces is the knowledge that change can be frightening, that responsibility can, but that the answer to that is not refusing to change or refusing to accept responsibility. I sometimes read something and think “I’d have loved this when I was eleven.” I’d have hated The Dazzle of Day when I was eleven, it’s all about grown-ups, it has a lot of older women as significant characters, and while being on the generation starship is essential to everything, everything that’s important is internal. But I love it now for those very things. If there’s an opposite of a YA book, this is it.
NOTE:This book contains sensitive content of the following nature: sexual violence.
Author: Molly Gloss
Publisher: New York, NY: Saga Press, 1997
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