The Abolition of Species

DoppleHouse. May 2018. 384p. tr. from German by Samuel P. Willcocks. ISBN 9780998777092. pap. $17.95. FANTASY
Author Dath's political allegory, rich with the sort of grandeur not seen since Russian science fiction of the mid-20th century, will test the mettle of readers accustomed to leaner, plot-driven novels. Shifting among Mars, Venus, and the final three cities left standing on Earth in the wake of genocidal war, the Gente (post-human telepaths who metamorphose into animals, alter their gender at will, and even manifest themselves as machine-like animations) know only relentless struggle. Observing and manipulating, even playing strings of history like music are a temporal adventuress and a composer with the ability to transform the new war into a mutation machine. The novel of big ideas isn't dead, and German author Dath proves few things are more satisfying in sf with a literary bent than mingling high-brow cultural speculation with low-brow humor, cautioning the reader to remember that humanity (at least for now) is dominator of the only game in town.
VERDICT Readers who favor the sensual detail and daring brilliance of Brian Aldiss, Samuel R. Delany, Carol Emshwiller, George R.R. Martin, and Frank Herbert will find much to enjoy in this dazzling translation of a writer little known in North America.
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