The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Earthseed is distinguished by the fact that it was the first novel that author Pamela Sargent wrote for young adults. It concerns a group of adolescents who have been reared on a space vessel by its computer in order to populate a new world. This scenario is complicated by two factors. The first is the violent instinct of the human race, reflected in the behavior of the children and the stowaway adults. The second, as important, is the true nature of the Project, which has been kept secret from both Ship and the children.

Sargent’s novel centers on fifteen-year-old protagonist Zoheret, her teenage companions, and their relationship to the Project. They believe that they and their vessel, a computerized asteroid called Ship, were created by Earth-based scientists in order to seed a new world and thus expand the range of the human species.

In part 1, the young people live in a series of well-equipped corridors in the vessel, all of their wants and needs taken care of by Ship. This Edenic existence is disturbed when Ship sends the youngsters on their first step toward independence from the asteroid incubator: a team competition to cross the Hollow, the Earth-like interior of the vessel. During this test, violent tendencies in the children—particularly in the boys Ho and Manuel—lead to serious injuries and hard feelings.

Part 2, which makes up the bulk of Earthseed, concerns itself with the roots and the...

(The entire section is 527 words.)