the Little Red Reviewer

The Florians, by Brian Stableford

Posted on: January 25, 2015

stableford FloriansThe Florians, by Brian Stableford

published in 1976

where I got it: purchased used

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Back in January of 2013, Susan of Dab of Darkness wrote a guest post about the works of Brian Stableford, and I’ve been looking for a copy of The Florians ever since. And I eventually found one!

 

Once upon in the future, Earth was able to send out colony ships with the idea that as they sent back confirmation of habitable planets, we would sent out more colonists. Habitable planets found or not, shortly after the ships were sent out, the project was cancelled for economic reasons. We never set out more ships, we never tried to reach our colonists, and couldn’t afford to worry if they had survived or not.  There are those who want to completely cancel all space programs. Many people want us to work on solving problems on Earth (pollution, over population, disease, etc) before spending money we don’t have on outer space missions with no guarantee.

 

However, limited funding has made a few ships available to contact colonies.  Alexis Alexander is a member of the small crew of the Daedelus, on a mission to connect with as many surviving colonies as possible. The ship won’t bring supplies or food or anything like that, only the medical lab on board, and the ecological, biological, and medical expertise of Alexis and his crewmates. All they can do is help the colonists adapt to their new worlds, help them fight off diseases. Even if the colonists don’t meet intelligent life forms, they will still be breathing alien air, be interacting with alien soil and microbes and such.

What a surprise for the crew of the Daedelus, to visit the planet of Floria, and to find a population of happy, healthy people. No one here has any medical problems to speak of, their crops are coming along nicely, and cities are going up across the planet.  Even better, everyone born here has grown very very tall, upwards of seven feet. Even the women are often over 6 feet tall.  It’s as if Floria is the perfect planet for humanity to thrive on. no natural predators, many of the native plants are edible, and anyone born here grows up tall, robust, and very strong. There seems to be something odd going on regarding education and some brewing political issues,  but that’s ok, right?

 

Alexis is an ecologist, and can’t help making observations. He notices there are no birds, and no fish. Is there a connection between the flora and fauna and why the colonists grow so tall?  As he tries to investigate the biology of the place, he and the rest of the crew get sucked into a political powderkeg (which I won’t really go into, because that part of the story wasn’t that interesting for me).  There’s certainly something very fishy going on with the leadership on Floria, and in a way I was reminded of M. Night Shamalan’s movie The Village. for those of you who have seen that movie, I’ve only spoiled about 1/3 of the big reveal.

 

My favorite part of The Florians was the discussion of biology and ecology on a planetwide scale. Much of these discussions certainly fall into infodumping territory, but it was such a fascinating topic for me that i didn’t mind feeling like I was listening to a college lecture.  I should have mentioned it earlier, that Floria doesn’t have a moon, which means no tides, which means no tidal pools. There is this whole wonderful discussion about genetic plasticity (easy example: two seeds from the same don’t make identical baby trees  because of plasticity), natural selection, evolution of carnivores and carrion eaters, and energy efficiency. It’s presented in layman’s terms, so even though I have barely a rudimentary understanding of biology and plant genetics, it all made sense to me.  I was so fascinated by these portions of the book that I kind of stopped paying attention to the plot!

 

There’s nothing really wrong with the populace of Floria growing so big, but how much additional growth can the human body really handle?  In the long run, will these changes be dangerous to our biology, since we didn’t evolve on Floria? I love stories that deal with how we will be affected by new environments, how we can be changing without even realizing what’s happening. If colonizing other planets is to ever become a reality, these are questions we will need to deal with.

 

The Florians is just the first book in Stableford’s Daedalus Mission series. Who knows what Alexis and friends will find as they seek out the other colonies? Hopefully more weird biology!!

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I’d tracked down a Daw yellow spine (because of course I did), but thanks to Wildside Press, the entire Daedelus Mission series is available as an e-book omnibus.

5 Responses to "The Florians, by Brian Stableford"

Memories, memories! One of the first books of SF I have read, and I loved it so much. Thanks for your review Andrea, you reminded me it’s time to read it again🙂

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Did not enjoy this one in the slightest….

Jesse at Speculiction claims that Man in a Cage (1975) is his masterpiece.

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So glad you enjoyed this book. And yes, the politics was really less interesting than the ecology and how humans affect and are affected by it. As a biologist, I found that to be a very fascinating part of the book – and the series.

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I LOVED all the biology/ecology discussion, specifically how they are connected, that your biology will go in certain directions and not in others because of the ecology.

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I never got around to this one, I’m afraid, and the info dump aspect is one of the reasons. A friend who read it said I should skip this chapter, and skim that one, but carefully read this other one. I enjoy a smattering of botany and alien biology, but I need them to provide necessary aspects to the plot and then kind of just go for the ride with me, and I was afraid this was over that line. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and if I ever run out of stuff to read (Ha!) I’ll give it a look. Nice review.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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