The war is meant to be over. The Draconian Empire has won
the day, and the Mim have lost pretty much everything. That
includes the borogoves of Proxima Longissima, the Mims
beloved children. The Draconians claim the borogoves are foundlings,
abused and neglected by their parents. In the Empire they
will be protected and provided for. Fearing that its species
faces extinction, one of last surviving Mim begs Bernice Summerfield
to come and see for herself. Benny just wants to do right
by her own son, Peter, and the brother or sister that may
follow him, but soon the borogoves are, rather unexpectedly,
her godchildren, and she becomes their best hope. As if dead
oceans and burning deserts werent hostile enough, Benny
must then enter the labyrinthine corridors of diplomacy, where
right and wrong are questions of perspective...
collection of three novellas is all about points of view.
All Mimsy Were the Borogoves, by Kate Orman, is conveyed
from the first-person perspective of a Mim, called Lwpha.
This really quite delightful narrative, which is full of wry
observations about the lifestyles of sexually-reproducing
species such as our own, makes me care about the asexual,
shape-shifting Mim in a way that I never did before. If a
story like this had been published sooner, I might have been
more interested in the recent Mim/Draconian conflict.
Blums The Loyal Left Hand counterbalances his
wife Ormans tale in a number of interesting ways. Having
been well and truly won over to the Mim point of view, here
Bernice experiences the Draconian way of life. Though this
story isnt a first-person narrative, Bernice gradually
forms a connection with Ithva, the inscrutable wife of Jarith
Kothar, and the other Draconian women out on a female bonding
ritual in the middle of a desert. In both stories, Bernice
visits a vacation destination of the species in question,
one an ocean world (the Mim name for Proxima Longissima is
Holiday Home), the other a parched wilderness (the Tembleth
Desert). In both stories, she becomes intimate in some way
with that species representative.
the instantly engaging viewpoint of Lwpha, I found The
Loyal Left Hand rather difficult to get into. However,
its worth sticking with, as Blum reveals a fascinating
and hitherto hidden side of Draconian sexual politics (one
that, quite cunningly, due to its clandestine nature, will
probably stand up to any future revelations about the species
culture in other narratives, such as upcoming Doctor Who
television stories). He also makes intriguing references to
the First Doctors visit to the Draconian Empire (alluded
to in the Jon Pertwee serial Frontier in Space). When
Benny reaches the Tembleth Desert, the narrative switches
from the past tense to the present, lending an air of immediacy
and proximity to the events that unfold.
that we and Benny have accepted both the Mim and Draconian
standpoints, the final novella, Philip Purser-Hallards
Nursery Politics, adds further complications by conveying
multiple perspectives, including those of Jason (which come
complete with some appropriately Dave Stone style wordplay),
Kothar, Ithva and a Mim or two. Significantly, Bernices
point of view is absent until the epilogue, though her actions
and expressions are observed and interpreted by all the other
characters. The setting of the story is the Draconian-Mim
Reparations Tribunal, which is being hosted on the Braxiatel
Collection, and the diversity of viewpoints drives home the
difficulty of getting people to agree with one another.
machiavellian complexity of the political resolution hurt
my brain a little, but thats my only complaint about
this well-constructed narrative.
I treat such novellas on an individual basis, but I would
have ended up giving them all the same mark anyway, and my
views on each one have been informed by my reading of the
others, so my review has ended up blending into one. Like
the Mims tending of the borogoves, Nobodys
Children is a true team effort and this book is everyones
brainchild. As such, its parents should be duly proud.
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