Dreams of an Unseen Planet

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As the threat of global nuclear war looms larger every day, the governments of the world search frantically for a planet suitable for colonization, in a desperate attempt to guarantee the survival of the human race. At last they discover Gaea, a single planet in a binary star system. Three separate missions are launched, from North America, China, and the Soviet Union.

Miera Tull is a citizen of Ventura, a two thousand-member United States-space station. Her hand-picked group has been orbiting Gaea for seven years but has not yet visited the planet’s surface, which is obscured by thick clouds of ionized gas. Consequently, the intense physical struggle to survive that everyone anticipated has not occurred. In fact, since most of the day-to-day routines on Ventura are performed by machines, the big problem is simple boredom. The colonists, all highly trained specialists, dutifully devote a large portion of their time to scientific projects. Leisure time is strictly monitored by the bureaucratic governing board known as the Center. The entire social calendar revolves around carefully orchestrated--and increasingly desperate--mating rituals, during which the medical staff surreptitiously laces the colonists’ food with aphrodisiacs and fertility drugs, and everyone is required to wear provocative clothing. In spite of these efforts the birth rate continues to plummet, and it soon becomes clear that the colony will eventually die out.

Lately, however, Miera has been having peculiar nightmares, seemingly brought on by the drugs she has taken as part of a telepathy experiment. Miera and her friends begin to suspect that the planet itself is a conscious being and that Miera’s dreams are actually attempts at communication from that being.

DREAMS OF AN UNSEEN PLANET is distinctly different from many science-fiction novels. Instead of the usual cast of interstellar cowboys zapping hostile aliens with high-technology weapons, this book focuses mainly on women and emphasizes the protection of life. While the level of excitement may disappoint fans of the more traditional space opera, Teresa Plowright’s elegant prose style is sure to please. This fine first novel will appeal to feminists of both sexes and to anyone interested in exploring the boundaries of science fiction.