book review

Book Review
© 2008 Tricia Burmeister

In Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon addresses issues of gender, race, and power from the perspective of an elderly female space colonist. When Ofelia’s colony is transferred because of corporate politics, she evades evacuation with the intent of living out her life alone on the planet she’s inhabited for 40 years. Ofelia’s first experience of life without the demands of family and social propriety makes a poignant statement about the rules and behavioral constraints society places upon older people. The author emphasizes how often Ofelia has been told she can’t do certain things because of her age. When the previously unknown native inhabitants of the planet visit Ofelia, she must find a balance between her responsible and caring side, and her desire to live a selfish and carefree life.

Ultimately, Ofelia’s wisdom and patience in negotiating with the newly-discovered species leads those in power to acknowledge her continuing ability to contribute to society and government. The book’s third-person narrative is personal and believable as it explores the nuances of independence and the conflicting desires one may face as one ages. Elizabeth Moon wrote the book when nearing the age of sixty, which may have contributed to her thoughtful evocation of female aging. While its subject matter rests securely within the borders of traditional science fiction, this novel’s divergence from the norm of young – and usually male –protagonists is refreshing. It would be a valuable addition to any library’s science-fiction collection. The book was nominated for a Hugo Award in 1997.

Moon, Elizabeth. Remnant Population. Los Angeles: Del Rey, 2003.

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