“Ground-Ties” by Jane S. Fancher
review ©️ 1993 by P. Douglas Reeder
The setting of Ground-Ties combines the traditional FTL-spaceship-and-faster-FTL-communication element with a newer one: the world-wide computer network. The combination is surprising at first, but logical, given FTL communication and computers. (I dislike assumption of FTL technology; it’s so unimaginative; FTL star-faring civilizations look too much like our own.) This civilization has cut its ties with Earth, and lives in space habitats, except for various Reconstructionist movements (despised by the majority) who seek to reconstruct various cultures from Earth, usually colonizing planets to do so. The government (The Alliance) is apparently dominated by a small oligarchy who practice nepotism and prejudice against “Recons” (Reconstructionists). One the major themes is the tensions between the Recons and the rest of society; unfortunately we see almost nothing of ordinary society; all the significant non-Recon characters are in government Security. HuteNamid is the Recon planet where most of the action takes place, and the Recons there derive their cultural ideas from Native Americans.
The characters are realistic; the conflict arises because the characters have differing goals. The oligarchy remains offstage. Admiral Loren Cantrell and her people of the security force is working to blunt the influence of the oligarchy. Stephen Ridenow’s Recon heritage was hidden when he entered the academy at ten and now, ten very rough years later, is being graduated early for this mission. Dr. Wesley Smith and Dr. Paul Corlaney are non-Recon researchers on HuteNamid, each with his project to forward. Governor Sagiimagen Tyeewapi, his daughter Anevai, and Nayati Hatawa are three Recons of HuteNamid with different perspectives on how best to preserve independance of action for their planet.
The plot involves missing data and a paper by Smith that could seriously affect the Net as the characters know it, and only Ridenow recognized its importance. As Cantrell, her team, and Ridenow investigate, more strange things turn up and everything gets complicated.
It is difficult to follow all the information in the opening scenes, but persevere, it becomes clear before long. The setting seems unlikely at first, but makes sense once you get used to it.
The book ends before all the loose ends are tied up; either there is a sequel in the works or Fancher has had to cut down a larger story, presumably for the editor, this being her first novel. This didn’t bother me overmuch, as I wasn’t working too hard at following all the plot lines.
All in all, it’s quite good for a first novel and is well worth reading if you like mature, realistic characters and plots. I will be on the lookout for more of her works. [sequel: Harmonies of the ‘Net]
%A Jane S. Fancher %T Ground-Ties %I Warner Books, Inc. %C New York, NY %D copyright 1991 %P 376 pages %K network, FTL, Indian, mature characters %O paperback $4.50