Mar 29, 2009: “Keeper” is a solid, well-written sci fi novel with philosophical discussions on slavery and genetic manipulation. Alex Marcase is a starship captain and explorer known for finding things no else can, and beating his opposition to the prize. When his funding runs out, he gets word that his long-lost father has died and left him an estate. The estate turns out to be a Sha’erah, which means property, but is actually a person. Or at least, Alex thinks of him as a person.
Alex has no memory of his father but knows that Spencer Marcase had a reputation as a rich and powerful man with few scruples. Since Alex is desperate for money to finance his next voyage, a race for riches in a distant nebula, he jumps at the chance to get his inheritance. When he meets Evan, the Sha’erah, he’s shocked, disappointed and confused. Alex had thought the Sha’erah were a myth, something that happened in the past but had been outlawed years ago.
The Sha’erah are genetically altered before birth to have whatever talents their owner wants. The owner, called a Keeper, wears a silver ring that “magically” seals the ownership. The Keeper gives the orders and the Sha’erah obeys. They don’t even think about disobeying since this is their life. Evan was ordered to specifications by Alex’s father and picked up when he was 5. This is the only life he’s known. Now he’s been left to a stranger in Spencer’s will and his life is about to change completely.
Alex and Evan are both interesting characters. Alex is horrified at the moral implications of owning another person, even one that everyone else thinks isn’t really a human being at all. His dilemma is between owning another person, or selling another person. Evan is irritated because Alex has no idea what he is, what he can do, and how to give him orders. The two have a friction-filled relationship, and neither seems capable of asking the right questions.
The narration is third person but switches between Alex and Evan’s perspectives. It’s a bit cold and distant, with little humour, despite the amount of dialog. For science fiction, there’s a minimum of techo-speak. In some ways, it’s a bit like an episode of Star Trek. It’s an adventure story in space, with philosophical musings on some social issues. The action scenes are quick, the women are lovely and devious, and the rich are very different from the rest of us.
I didn’t read past the first 3 chapters because I found the narration a bit dry, the story too humourless, and the conversational circling between the two main characters a bit annoying. However, so far the novel is well-written and it has a lot of potential as a space adventure story. If you like science fiction adventures, you should enjoy this.
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