When the home planet of the proud and aloof Sadiri is destroyed, the scattered survivors take to founding a new home on a planet where splinter groups of their race had gone many years ago. A group forms to investigate these former Sadiri groups, led by the cool and collected Dllenakh. Accompanying this group is a few human scientists, including Grace Delarua, the narrator for much of the book. Through Grace, we see not only the wildly different societies of all these formerly Sadiri civilizations, but also the ongoing changes amongst the Sadiri as they adapt to their new roles (Dllenakh especially), and eventually her own changes brought on by such close contact with the Sadiri.
This is the story at the heart of The Best of All Possible Worlds, the second novel of Carribean author Karen Lord. Through this framework, she explores themes of self-discovery, love, race, and identity. Though some themes are handled more subtly than others, Lord creates a very compelling story of social science fiction amidst the rather straightforward and episodic plot. The characters and the varied cultures are fully realized, making the book quite the enjoyable page turner. For those who like their science fiction more focused on character and societal exploration than matters of technology or other hard science, this is a must-read.
Tim @ Central