Daw, Feb 2008, $7.99, 400 pp.
In some unspecified time in the future all the scientists agreed that Earth was going to be hit by a meteor and destroyed. Genetic sculptor Victor Hansen created a race of modified humans known as Selkies, bioengineered to live in water as they had gills and webbed feet and were faster and stronger than unmodified humans. They escaped from the religious leader the Avatar and his religious regime the Body Purified who believed all beings that were genetically modified were abominations.
The asteroid ended up being deflected by another asteroid and he consolidated his regime’s hold on the people of earth. The unmodified humans and the Selkies landed on the water world of Marseguro where for seventy-five years landlings and Selkies lived in harmony with each other. Some landlings were loyal to the Avatar’s beliefs and Chris Keating, brainwashed by his mother, is one of them. When two Selkies play a nasty trick on imm, he turns on the homing beacon from the ship that landed there. Richard Lansing made it his life work to find the world his grandfather landed on and when he does he notifies the proper authorities who mount an attack to kill the Selkies. However, Marseguro is not as helpless as earth bureaucrats believe and when Richard , who travels with the troops to Marseguro, discovers who and what he is, the side he takes (Avatar or Selkie) will determine the outcome of what becomes of the mostly water planet.
The regime in power is so xenophobic that it makes war on innocent men, women and children subduing colony worlds by deadly force. Marseguro is determined not to be conquered but if they use the only means available to stop the troops Earth is sending their way, a great travesty will occur. Their moral dilemma is only on of the reasons this novel is so fascinating. The Selkie culture and infrastructure is very picturesque and easily pictured by readers who will want to visit his exotic world. Hopefully Edward Willet will write a sequel starring Marseguro.