03 May 2011

heart of gold by sharon shinn

i followed up on one of the short story worlds from quatrain, which led me to the stand alone book heart of gold. again, i was captivated by the fascinating clash of cultures and races. a matriarchal, blue-skinned race conflicts with a patriarchal, gulden-skinned race over customs legal and private, land control and terrorism. there's also an albino race, although they stay in the background of the story. racial and cultural tension are central to story as the races deal with terrorist acts done in retaliation for land taken over in violation of a treaty. shinn manages to convey both societal and individual reactions to the main and underlying conflicts. she successfully portrays contrasts and conflicts at several levels.

beyond the question of national interest and what means are acceptable to protect that, shinn takes on how our understanding of life is based on culture, upbringing, and individual characteristics, and whether and how people can change. on the personal level, her characters deal with moral dilemmas reflecting those larger issues and how those larger issues affect family and personal relationships. the world of heart of gold is very complex in a subtle way, realistic and highly engaging.

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