Mission Child

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9780380974566: Mission Child

Coming of age on the icy northern plains of what was once the planet Earth, Janna witnesses the arrival of the Earthers, descendants of the humans who formerly inhabited the planet, who threaten its developing civilization with their advanced technology.

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Review:

Mission Child is an expansion of Maureen McHugh's "The Cost to Be Wise," a fascinating novella from the original anthology Starlight 1.

Janna's world was colonized long ago by Earth and then left on its own for centuries. When "offworlders" return, their superior technology upsets the balance of a developing civilization. Mission Child follows the journeys of Janna after she and her young partner escape marauders who attack their hometown. The girl, fast becoming mature beyond her years, sets off across the planet on an odyssey of adventure, poverty, hard work, war, famine, and rebirth. Janna uses her meager skills to eke out a living in a changing world; she gains and loses a husband, a child, friends, jobs, and more.

McHugh weaves together anthropology, sociology, psychology, and gender relations in this wondrous journey. Janna assumes the guise of a boy for protection, but eventually becomes "Jan" to herself as well as others. Reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin's insightful works set in the Hainish universe, Mission Child will doubtless be nominated for a Tiptree Award for its exploration of Janna's gender identity. --Bonnie Bouman

About the Author:

Maureen F. McHugh is the author of the critically acclaimed novels China Mountain Zhang--a New York Times Notable Book of 1992 nominated for both a Hugo and a Nebula Award, and winner of the Locus Readers' Poll for Best First Novel, a James Tiptree Award and a Lambda Award--and Half the Day is Night. She received the Hugo for her short story, "The Lincoln Train," and other stories have appeared in several publications and anthologies, including the highly regarded collection Starlight 1.

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