In The Milky Galaxy, Barbara G Louise presents two related novellas that envision a bleak future for a severely depleted Earth, but a brighter one for other inhabited planets.
The novellas have the same premise: Climate change has made it nearly impossible for Earth’s living things to survive in the open. The capitalistic economy has evolved into a plutocracy. Wealthy humans live in gigantic geodesic domes where life is comfortable, although women are subservient, used like slaves for sex and reproduction; the poor live underground, barely surviving.
In “The Ruined Earth,” the first novella, the Geejjikk, strange benevolent beings, have visited Earth, offering to transport those who wish a fresh start to an Earthlike planet in another star system. Most of the poor choose to leave, while the rich remain. Meanwhile, Eeelk, a young member of the Geejjikk expedition, is left behind accidentally. The Geejjikk have no genders, yet need a pair to reproduce, thus, Eeelk has none of hir (the non-gender pronoun) race for friendship or procreation.
In the second, longer novella, “Space Travel,” the youngest male member of the Darsen dome awakes from cryogenic sleep to find himself alone on a starship headed for Alpha Centauri. He soon discovers he has been sent by his father to prove himself by finding another inhabited planet for the Darsen dome to conquer and repopulate. However, when he reaches his destination, a socialistic utopia, he’s shocked to discover friendship and love.
Both stories are intriguing. Louise’s depiction of worlds living in economic extremes seems all-too logical and frightening. Most impressive is her treatment of the overlying theme of “The Ruined Earth,” which explores the question: Which is stronger; love or indoctrination? The answer may surprise some readers. While some characters seem stereotypical—the despotic leader, the strong female in a man’s world, etc.—that’s a minor distraction.
The novellas, each readable in isolation, set the stage for a series of eight planned books. Readers will eagerly anticipate discovering how the series develops from here.
Also available as an ebook.