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Seed Seeker    by Pamela Sargent order for
Seed Seeker
by Pamela Sargent
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though Pamela Sargent's Seed Seeker is the sequel to both Earthseed and Farseed, it can also stand on its own. In Earthseed, the sentient Ship delivered a colony of human children (whom it had bred from its genetic banks, taught and nurtured) to the world of Home. In Farseed, the colonists split, one group braving the alien world to build a new society while the other clung to their original settlement. There were 'distrust, resentments, hatreds, and battles' along the way.

Now in Seed Seeker, Ship returns as it had promised it would. Both groups of colonists fear that it has returned to see what they had made of themselves, and that Ship will find them lacking. It is known that the northern settlement of the dome dwellers contains a Ship's Room inside its library, with a radio capable of communicating with Ship when it's in orbit. Will the dome dwellers, who believe themselves to be 'the true people', use the radio to turn Ship against the others?

In small Seaside village, timid sixteen-year-old Bian hears the arguments and (though she has always stayed close to home before, catering to her mother's fears) offers to journey upriver with trading goods to see what she can discover - her friend Arnagh goes with her. As Bian and Arnagh travel north, they are joined by talented flute player Enli (and by Lusa who follows him) along the way. Bian is attracted to Enli but disturbed by his callous treatment of Lusa.

Readers also meet dome dwellers. Teen Safrah and her friends, now the eldest of the group, do what they can for the wild, rebellious young ones, but the dome dwellers' numbers have diminished and their technology is breaking down - facts that they desperately hide from outsiders. When Safrah and her friends discover that Ship has returned and the radio has been sabotaged, they attempt to fix it. And Safrah decides to go and meet with the outsiders (with whom they have always traded), in an attempt to avoid conflict between them and her people.

On their journey, Bian's group is contacted by a flyer from Ship, who asks them to act as its emissaries to the dome dwellers. There is danger and violence, but Bian, Safrah and others do what they believe is right. When it's all over, Ship is no longer lonely and has a vision of an exciting new mission. In addition to its SF aspect, Seed Seeker speaks eloquently of coming of age and to terms with fear of the unknown. Since the ending hints of more, it looks like we can look forward to another episode in this appealing saga.

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