By Elizabeth Moon
Science Fiction, Fantasy
There are a few editions of this book with different covers. I read the hardcover edition published May 1st, 1996.
Elizabeth Moon Grew up in McAllen, Texas. “” (Goodreads)
This is the cover of the edition I read. I borrowed Remnant Population from the library after a few people on the Reddit Fantasy group recommended it to satisfy the “Too Old for this Crap” square for the Fantasy Bingo Challenge 2017. That means I had to pick a fantasy book where the main character is over 50-years-old. When I picked up the book and saw the cover my heart sank. I thought this would be the corniest, cheesiest book I read in my life. I’m giving it two stars, but the story is okay. I had a really hard time routing for the main character, Ofelia. I’ll touch on that later.
Ofelia is an older woman who lives with her only living son Barto and his wife Rosara within a small colony owned by Sims Bancorp. Her late husband told her what to do (and I think was abusive), Barto and Rosara boss her around all of the time. Ofelia craves to just simply be left alone to do what she wants to do.
The Company, Sims Bancorp, has lost the franchise which means Ofelia and her people will have to leave the colony. Ofelia is the oldest of the originals who came to the colony many years ago. As others accept they will need to move within 30 days, Ofelia decides she is staying.
The company informs Barto that his mother will have to take one of the later shuttles and he will have to pay extra because of her age. After her son and daughter-in-law leave on their shuttle, Ofelia packs some food, and sleeps in the woods until everyone is gone. For the first time in her life she is FREE! It doesn’t take long for her to get rid of her clothes and enjoy walking around naked. Over the next month she keeps busy scavenging food and supplies from other houses, tending the gardens, checking on the machines, and ensuring the animals are safe.
During a terrible “sea-storm” Ofelia takes shelter in the control center and hears voices on the radio. It’s a shuttle coming to land somewhere else on the planet seeking a place to start a new colony. Creatures attack and only some of the humans manage to escape. Ofelia is left in shock and is now fearing the creatures will find her.
The story now flips to the alien perspective. They call the humans monsters. After the shuttles left, the aliens decide to go find the area where they had seen other shuttles land 40-years-ago.
I don’t want to say anything more, but I will say things get interesting and take a couple turns that I wasn’t expecting. I had a hard time relating to the characters. I felt they were a little flat, with no arc of any kind. Some parts of the story were a little suspenseful, but nothing scary. I did laugh a few times, mainly because Ofelia thinks and says some really weird stuff sometimes. She is incredibly selfish and stubborn. We aren’t given much information about the planet, or why they left “old earth”. We also don’t know much about the government or company that owns the colonies. It would have been great to have a bit more world-building and background info.
Remnant Population didn’t quite meet my expectations, but I would still recommend it to sci-fi fantasy fans.