Monday, May 30, 2011
The Exile Waiting
By Vonda N. McIntyre
Mischa lives in an underground city, built in a complex of caves and populated by refugees from a nuclear war that has left the Earth in dire condition. Life in the underground city is harsh, with slavery and children mutilated and forced to become beggars. Mischa is not technically a slave, but is at her uncaring uncle's beck and call and forced into a life of crime to keep him happy. His hold over her and her older brother is their sister, Gemmi, who is retarded and who the uncle tortures in order to bend Mischa and her brother to his will.
So Mischa is determined to get her and her brother away from the uncle. She has decided to try to get a berth for the two of them on the next space ship to land at the city. Life is better out in space, on the various worlds that humans have populated.
Mischa sneaks into the city ruler's palace to confront him and to ask for a place on one of the space ships he owns. For her troubles, she is chained to a pillory and whipped in the public square.
Mischa is still determined to get out of the city. Then outworlders land at the space port and take over control of the city from the ruler. Mischa sees this as her last chance to get her and her brother a better life off of Earth and goes to the outworlders for help. Together they will shake up the dissolute underground dwellers and free not only Mischa and themselves from tyranny but also those strange, misshapen outcasts who live in the depths of the great cave system, hiding from and persecuted by the underground city's decadent, declining citizens.
This was a very interesting story. Mischa and her companions have lots of adventures and get into tight scrapes and get to meet strange and unusual people including a boy named Crab who turns out to be one of Mischa's siblings, abandoned at birth because of his terrible deformities and rescued by the outcasts who dwell in the deepest part of the caves. This is quite the science fiction adventure story and a very good read.