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Far-Seer (The Quintaglio Ascension book 1) by Robert J. Sawyer

28/11/2005. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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pub: TOR. 313 page enlarged paperback. Price: $14.95 (US), $21.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-765-30974-2.

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Imagine a world where sentient dinosaurs live. All right, so its been done before but usually on Earth not on a moon in orbit around another planet in an unnamed star system. It is only with the cover notes that there is any indication that the Quintaglio species and other saurian species were extracted from Earth some 65 million years ago.

For the Quintaglios, all they know is that theirs is a world near The Face Of God that looms over them in the sky. They have a religion based on this belief, are carnivores who hunt and kill for fresh meat and have a developed but tribal society.

Afsan, an apprentice astronomer, on his pilgrimage by sea with the Empress' son, Dybo, amongst other pilgrims, uses the captain's far-seer or telescope to study The Face Of God and reasons out it is a planet and there are actually on a moon orbiting it with several other moons. He also works out there are other planets in the star system and they also rotate around the sun. It is from here that all his problems evolve, the least of which but initially important is convincing the captain that the world is not flat but round and if they keep sailing east they will reach their own country again. There is then the problem of convincing a larger population of his findings and the priesthood which is determined to get him to recant his beliefs.

This is essentially a variation on the story of Galileo when he made a similar discovery on Earth, although with a somewhat different and unexpected twist in the ending. Although there are different reference words for anatomy and whathaveyou, after a while these are ignored and the focus is on an intelligent species fighting against superstition and what is really there.

Author Rob Sawyer has neatly brought all these threads together in ways that compares to human society but also takes into account that this is a different mindset and is likely to act far differently as well. As such, this makes for an extremely interesting read for the seasoned SF reader. It might also be suitable for early teens who want to get their first bite into SF and if they like dinosaur-like species are going to appreciate the Quintaglios.

GF Willmetts

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