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Elom    by William H. Drinkard order for
by William H. Drinkard
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)

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*   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Geerna is a daughter of the People. She lives a hard life, characterized by hunger and cold. When the goddess Shetow marks Geerna with the passage from childhood to womanhood, Geerna undergoes a rite that turns out quite differently than she expected. Light blooms, and Geerna is summoned by the goddess. Millennia later, the People still thrive, but on a planet called Elom where Earth is no more than a myth. Women are artisans and men are hunters, and the society is led by women known as the Medoras. Most importantly, the People follow Geerna's prophecies, which have been passed down through the Progressions.

The People share their planet with the drak, an alien species with whom they coexist. When the drak tell the Medoras that the time for the Second Judgment has come, it's up to the clan leaders to select seven people who have been bred to be the best of the best. The chosen ones are meant to lead the People through the Second Judgment. As the novel unfolds, we learn all about these representatives. Who they are, what drives them, and ultimately, the sacrifices they make for the People, for Geerna, and for Shetow.

Elom is Drinkard's first novel, and unfortunately, it shows. The writing is lyrical and adept, but the story moves slowly, and suffers from page after page of lengthy back story and exposition. Despite the dramatic lives of those selected, there is too much emphasis on philosophy and cultural detail, and too little focus on an engaging plotline.

It's clear that Drinkard is fascinated by the idea of alien abductions and interspecies relationships. He built a complex alien culture and spent a lot of time exploring interwoven relationships between characters. Readers who prefer their science fiction heavy on melodrama and world building will enjoy Elom.

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