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Crossfire    by Nancy Kress order for
by Nancy Kress
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Crossfire begins like a standard SF colonization story - various ethnic groups fleeing Earth on the starship Ariel in search of a better future on a new planet (empty of sentients) that they have called Greentrees. The group has been pulled together by Jake Holman, a talented negotiatior, in partnership with brilliant organizer Gail Cutler. It includes New Quakers, a deposed Arabic royal family, Chinese, environmentalists, and neo-Cheyenne.

We learn early that Jake has a dark secret, and there are other complications amongst the colonists - in particular, New Quaker doctor William Shipley's rebellious daughter Naomi, and a trend to paranoia in the Swiss military team hired to police the new planet. When the colonists arrive, they are surprised by the discovery of various groups of sentients, not native to the planet, and who seem to be experimental subjects. They name them Furs. Then the experimenters show up.

These are members of a plant intelligence, and are quickly labelled Vines by the colonists. The humans begin a debate about who to support, the warlike Furs or the non-violent Vines, who have perfomed genetic manipulation on their enemies. Naomi is strongly partisan, consistently favoring her Furs. The Vines' peaceful approach appeal to her father, despite his concerns about their methods. Various adventures ensue on and off planet, and different characters must make pivotal decisions, each influenced by their past.

As the story ends, humans on Greentrees prepare for the possibility of war, in a potential crossfire between the Vines' bio-weapons and the Furs' superior hardware. There is also the additional complication of a scientific expedition expected from Earth. Crossfire is the first in what looks to be an intriguing series.

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