Ratings: 4 Stars
File Size: 325 KB
Set in the 23rd century, SKOL by Alan Conrad is the story of a shy young man’s passage into adulthood. Simon is on a space freighter with his father and brother, transporting goods to far-off planets. As a member of the Skolen race, they can withstand the loneliness of space travel and, therefore, take cargo long distances where others cannot go. Because of the travels, Simon has little contact with others. While stopped to resupply the ship, Simon is gifted a pet rat which becomes his companion.
When Simon goes to school on uninhabited Earth, he has difficulty interacting with others, especially the rich and entitled. As a result of an entanglement, he flees the school, follows the ancient Appalachian trail to New York City, but must return to the school to get off the planet. During his travels, he observes nature and the environment. I loved the descriptions that let me see earth’s wanders in a refreshing childlike way.
Paralleling Simon’s story is the history of how this future came to be, the controversy over intelligence, especially “artificial intelligence” (AI). and the human understanding of what is a sentient being. I enjoy books that make me think and see the world differently, and this one did just that. Can shyness be a genetic survival trait and can humans adjust to living with AI or will mankind’s hubris interfere?
I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy a good story and plausible sci-fi that is not about warring intergalactic species but about the future of humankind on an individual basis.