Worlds Enough and Time

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Marianne O’Hara is in charge of entertainment for the ten thousand colonists on the starship NEWHOME headed for a new beginning on a distant planet. One of the few on board who has set foot on Earth, Marianne was one of the last humans to leave the planet before the wars made emigration impossible.

On the one-year anniversary of the launch, disaster strikes, with sabotage the likely cause. NEWHOME loses contact with New York, the space station orbiting Earth, and at the same time the computer files are damaged. Everything from literature to medical texts to engineering manuals contains garbled sections. Any small malfunction could mean disaster.

Marianne becomes more involved with the ship’s government, and finds that everything is not as democratic aboard ship as it appears. She struggles with that notion, while dealing with a bizarre religious cult whose members do little but take up space and smile benevolently; a plant virus that decimates the food crop, requiring that a majority of the colonists undergo suspended animation to conserve food; and a surprising message coming from Earth itself.

Marianne’s personal life is no less complex. She has two husbands and a wife in an open marriage — and one other person who wants to join the family. When she is chosen as one of the first group of colonists to bear offspring it raises questions. Who should be the biological father? Should she carry the child, or should she have it ex-utero?

WORLDS ENOUGH AND TIME is a compelling read, with well-drawn characters. Although it is the last of a trilogy, this one could easily be read first.