The Weave, Nancy Jane Moore (Aqueduct Press 978-1-61976-077-6, $19.00, 356pp, tp) July 2015. [Order from Aqueduct Press, P.O. Box 95787, Seattle WA 98145-2787].
The Weave, a first novel by Nancy Jane Moore, is science fiction that thoroughly deserves its advance praise by Vonda N. McIntyre and Michael Bishop. Rather than simply chronicle the first human expedition to a solar system beyond our own, First Contact with sentient aliens, and the ensuing war, Moore shows a future Earth and that alien world as experienced by two protagonists – one human, one alien – in plotlines that intertwine throughout the book, not fully merging even when Caty Sanjuro and the being known as Sundown finally meet.
Baldly stated, the space mission would seem to invoke past ironists who warped the grand epics of Golden Age SF for their own sly social satires. After centuries of exploring, exploiting and colonizing the Solar System, humans have achieved a somewhat faster means of space travel. Years after robotic probe Copernicus found that the Scorpius 41 system had a sparsely inhabited fourth planet and mineral-rich asteroid belt (prompting some wit to dub the world Cibola, after a legend of the Conquistadors), the first manned expedition sets out in spaceship Mercator, where Caty is the lone xenologist.
No generic form, however, including satire, can prevail in a fictional environment this fluid, with characters too vivid to become icons or pawns. In The Weave, even the sense of wonder gives way to outright surprise: comic, tragic, or somewhere indefinably between. Much as Caty and Sundown strive to know The Other, they come from worlds so different they’ll need to recognize – and discard –their most fundamental assumptions about existence, before they can begin to understand.