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Julie E. Czerneda
book cover

2001, June, Daw

Who recommends: Linda, JW, Preeti, Lori
Who discommends:

I highly recommend this book. Absolutely loved it. Has a slow buildup but isn't boring. Just was hard for me because I always want to leap ahead. I really like her characters and the plot was intriguing. The heroine is a scientist trying to find a way to kill the hated Quill that is responsible for stopping all settlement on other planets, for many deaths and for the isolation of all settlers from earth that were caught in space on the way to settle on planets and weren't allowed to return to earth for fear of infestation. The hero, Aaron Pardell, is one of the only survivors and the scientist is in search of him. Aaron has a condition in which he cannot be touched without being in terrible pain. This also lends itself to a fascinating romance towards the end which I enjoyed a lot. There were 560 pages in it, which made it hard since I could hardly stand to put it down and I had a lot of housework to do. So it took me 2 days to finish. Time just flew.--Linda (19 Jun 01)

I recently finished IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS by Julie E. Czerneda. Thanks to whoever recommended it; I really enjoyed it. Even though I thought it dragged a bit in the beginning and yet was somewhat rushed at the end. But it was an interesting story with lively characters and a nice romance that seemed to be doomed (the hero literally cannot be touched) but turned out HEA.

And best of all, it is a complete story in itself! Hallelujah!! I've seen some interesting looking titles from the book club in recent months but am reluctant to order anything when it looks like it might be the first of the series, since it is so rare that current day writers manage to write complete books in those cases. (I love series, but I want each book to be complete. Otherwise I have no choice but to wait until the series comes to a conclusion before I read any.)--JW (28 Jun 01)

JW's take on Julie Czerneda's latest intrigued me enough to go right out and buy IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS. Then I realized it was a dreaded doorstopper book. Oh no, I thought, I'll just end up skimming this out of impatience. But I ended up reading every word.

IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS is the story a brilliant and manipulative scientist, Gail Smith, who is out to destroy the Quill, a deadly and mysterious alien lifeform that spread like wildfire to worlds that had been prepared for human settlement. To complete her mission Gail needs to find one Aaron Pardell, a descendant of the woman inadvertantly responsible for the disaster of the Quill.

Aaron turns out to be a very interesting man. He lives on a dying space station crammed full of stationers, trapped immigrants (can't go to Quill-infested planets; not allowed back on Earth), and stuck spacers (also denied by Earth for fear of carrying Quill Effect). Aaron's a rather unique human in this mix because being touched causes him immense pain and shocks the toucher. Despite his affliction, though, Aaron's the most gallant of men, enduring a lot in his life and only coming close to breaking when he falls in love during the course of the book. To love without being able to touch...

Anyway, the secret of this book's readabililty is that it's a continuously unfolding mystery. Czerneda presents the enigmas fairly early on: What is the Quill Effect? What does Gail Smith know? What is the explanation for Aaron Pardell's condition? Is his love doomed? Can the Quill be destroyed or the Quill Effect be countered? The ever-deeper revelations, some of them quite surprising, are fascinating. They really keep you reading on despite the length of the book.

The only thing I could have lived without is the space Czerneda gave to showing life on the space station where Aaron Pardell lives. It's a nice piece of world-building showing how human society had to adapt in such a small space since the onset of the Quill Effect. But the three or four days of life on the space station took up almost half the book. I guess Czerneda wanted to explore the devastating effect of the Quill on humanity before leading us to the cause and the solution.--Preeti (08 Jul 01)

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