The Earth Family Smith
The Earth Family Smith is a science fiction novel set in the not-too-distant future, where the Earth has been all but destroyed by pollution and climate change while its population has been decimated by an illness known as the Red Plague. Humanity has been left with no choice but to flee the Earth and escape via wormhole to New Terra, a planet capable of supporting human life.
Among those heading for New Terra are teenager Cameron, her younger brother, Barry, her little sister, Amilee, and her parents. As the story opens, the family is spending their last night on Earth at Away Station, a sort of selection/preparation center for soon-to-be emigrants, which shares many similarities with the poorly equipped asylum centers currently used in many countries to house immigrants/asylum seekers. The family’s preparation for departure on the shuttle and their subsequent settling in aboard Ark III for deep-space hibernation and the two-year journey to New Terra are well thought out and realistic – even when fleeing from planetary collapse, there’s no escaping bureaucracy.
The real action begins when Cameron and her siblings awake to discover that their severely damaged capsule has landed on a strange planet. It can’t be New Terra, which is supposed to be a tundra planet, as the planet they’re on has a temperate or even tropical biome. What’s more, their parents are missing. The three venture out of the capsule in search of answers and soon encounter a group of aliens who identify themselves as Arap-Musoogums and explain that they are on the planet Tumuera. While most of those they initially meet prove friendly, especially Qetu, who ends up acting as a kind of foster mother to them, the Smith children discover that Tumuera has its own problems. The population seems split into factions, with one group being in favor of allowing foreign species to settle on the planet, while the other group believes that all emigrants to Tumuera should be expelled back to their home worlds – there’s even talk of building a wall to keep rival native species out.
Chun-Tien Leung has clearly put a lot of effort into the worldbuilding for The Earth Family Smith. The planet of Tumuera, including its cities, wider environment, flora, fauna, and populations, is described in clear detail. The Smith children experience everything as alien yet also as slightly familiar – the same kinds of rivalries, jealousies, and friendships are seen on Tumuera as are seen on Earth, and that includes the real contemporary Earth as well as the fictional one. The conflicts between the different native species, the distrust and fear of immigrants, and the damage done to the environment are clear echoes of what is going on in real life right now. There’s also a nice amount of humor to be found in some of the differences between humans and Arap-Musoogums, including the different ways of eating and of going to the bathroom.
The Earth Family Smith follows Cameron and her siblings as they adjust to life on Tumuera, attempt to fit in to their new society, and become embroiled in the conflict between the factions. They make friends and allies with many Arap-Musoogums as well as with individuals from other species (Qetu’s aged father-in-law Quigo and the robot Am-lam are particular favorites), and they also encounter a number of bigoted enemies who don’t think that they belong on Tumuera. All the while, they are left to wonder what happened to their parents and the others aboard Ark III. The story is packed with detail and intriguing descriptions of life and living things on Tumuera, and there’s a fair bit of action and adventure, too.
As The Earth Family Smith is the first book in Chun-Tien Leung’s Tumuerian Dream series, it will be interesting to see what the author has in store for Cameron and the others next.
|Page Count||350 pages|
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|Category||Science Fiction & Fantasy|