Saturday, September 12, 2020

#StayAtHome: Melissa Scott's "Finders"


"Finders keepers, losers weepers" may be the inspiration for the title of Melissa Scott's 2018 SF novel Finders. The book was the September discussion topic for the North Country Gaylaxians reading group, and it was a very lively, wide-ranging discussion! 

I read the book in three days, which is quite an accomplishment for me, as usually I get stuck in the first three pages of a Melissa Scott novel, and give up. I did that a few times in August with Finders, but used the Labor Day long weekend to push past that stuck point and read the entire thing. Somewhere between pages 75 and 100, this 360 page novel really took off for me.

This is fun space opera, that reminded some of the virtually assembled Gaylaxians of the novels of Andre Norton. Grand Dame with polyamory. 

It also reminded me a lot of the setting of the Stars Without Number RPG, although the particular transhuman Ancients in the story background differ in some details.

So what's it about? Finders tells the story of a starship salvage crew of three: a poly thrupple to be specific, recently reunited. Cassilde, Dai, and Ashe are "salvors": salvagers who search sites of the Ancients (humans, possibly transhumans, from two civilizations ago) for the "elements" and for "Gifts." Elements are small, jewel like colored pieces of technology that are incorporated into current-era technology as essential components  

(There isn't much discussion of this in the text, and maybe it will come up in future books in the series, but it would seem that current-era humans have lost the ability to create these high tech building blocks. So the basis of current-era technology is reliant on salvaging the space junk of the Ancients, and current-era people should eventually run out of this stuff that is the basis of their technology. Or so I'd guess. We'll have to wait for the sequels to learn if this is so.) 

Gifts are unique, extremely rare artifacts composed of numerous elements. They can do truly miraculous things, like confer the ability to heal otherwise deadly wounds and arrest terminal illnesses. Exposure to Gifts creates sensitivity to the proximity of others who possess Gifts. This is dangerous, as gifts are transferable.

Salvage activity typically happens through the purchase of licenses to particular sites, ruins, space wrecks, or portions thereof. Our protagonists engage in legal salvage - typically. There are also claim jumpers/pirates who prey on licensed salvagers (and each other), and the plot of this novel centers on one particularly vicious claim jumper who will stop at nothing to acquire the Gifts of the Ancients.

Why? You will have to read the book to see what happens. 

1 comment:

  1. Totally off-topic, but I saw a comment of yours in another blog (Moonbase Central) from seven years ago where you mention the Archive Factor, a planetarium show put on by Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester, NY in 1975. I saw that show, too, and actually have an illustrated script of it that my dad bought at the time. The only other reference to it I've seen online is a resume by David Mammana, who was a technical assistant on the show. As you can see, I'm totally fascinated by Archive Factor, and by realistic near-future spaceflight Sci Fi. I'm curious to know what else you know about Archive Factor and how you're connected to it.