The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Rite of Passage is told in the first person by twenty-year-old Mia Havero, who recalls in c.e. 2205 the events culminating in her initiation to adulthood seven years earlier. Mia lives on board one of seven giant spaceships that were launched between 2025 and 2041. The ships carried colonists from Earth to 112 planetary systems shortly before a cataclysmic war destroyed the solar system.

After delivery of the colonists, an intellectual, technocratic elite remained on board each ship, releasing small bits of accumulated knowledge to the colonists in exchange for raw materials. This created ill feelings between the colonists and the inhabitants of the ship. The former believe that the ship people have usurped knowledge that is a common human legacy and call them “Grabbies”; the elitist, highly educated ship people are contemptuous of the barbarian ways of the colonists and call them “Mudeaters.”

To avoid the catastrophic overpopulation that led to the destruction of Earth, strict population control is practiced on the ships; the colonists are “free birthers.” Strategies to contain population growth include eugenic methods as well as “The Trial,” a thirty-day survival ordeal on a rough colony planet that all children have to undergo at the age of fourteen.

Mia’s story begins when she is twelve. Her father is the chairman of the Ship’s Council. He lives separated from her...

(The entire section is 456 words.)