Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunrise today was at 5:59, sunset will be at 8:16

Windy, windy last night, rainy, too; sunny now, though. For a while. Great big shadows across the house next door- must be crows coming between us and the sun.

I'm reading Dark Life, by Kat Falls, right now and am completely caught up in it. I'm only halfway but it's pretty darned good!

It takes place in the future, I'm not sure how far, only that the events that make the book possible haven't yet happened. At some point, there have been massive slides that have sent cities tumbling into the abysses (abysi?) of the ocean floor, severely limiting the amount of earth there is to live and build on. Buildings are crammed with thousands of people living 75 floors into the air, acres of rooms, packed with children housed in them as "boarding rooms". Children who still have parents are allowed to sit in larger rooms to play games, eat meals, on weekends when they come to visit.

There is no room for agriculture, there are few natural resources, people are slathered in various oxides, and no body parts are exposed to the sun. The only people with any access to space of any kind are the ones who have taken to the ocean floor, the Dark Life.

Ty, his family, and other pioneers farm the sea floor using the heat from fumaroles to fence in their land, growing kelp and other foods to keep the Topsiders alive. Like pioneers in our olden days, if they can work the property, fence it and make it work for 5 years, it becomes theirs. Ty is one year away from claiming his own hundred acres when he and the rest of his community are being forced by the people above the sea to find and capture an outlaw who has been hijacking goods the Topsiders need.

I have just gotten to the part where Shade (the head outlaw) has attacked one of the pioneer's homes, knocking out the generators and causing the house to deflate (if you are a science fan, you will really enjoy the descriptions of the way people live down there. Fascinating!) and the farmed fishes to escape and to die.

Ty and his Topsider friend, Gemma, are in it together. She wants and needs a new life and has to find her brother, and Ty has to try and save the only life he knows. Of course they decide they are the only ones who can take care of the Seablite gang and set off to do so.

It's got great science and seems to be a realistic look at what it could be like to live on the bottom of the ocean. How will we adjust to life under that much pressure? Will we adapt in ways never thought of? What happens to sociology when a single culture splits and becomes so different but still dependent on each other?

There are shades of Blindsight (an adult science fiction book by Peter Watt) and the movie Total Recall (which was based on a Philip K. Dick book called We Can Remember it for You Wholesale) but it is still good speculative fiction for kids and teens.

The author is a good storyteller- her explanations and visuals are clear; I can totally imagine what it would be like to live where you can't see without light, where light can even be dangerous, in an environment that no one has mapped yet, and to be able to travel by landmarks that the majority of humans on earth will never know or guess at.

It's a good book for both sexes, lots of adventure, and it's just arrived at the store. Ages 9 and up, this would be a really good book for middle school, too. A great book to add to the science shelf. (Scholastic, $16.99.)

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