The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
The planet Orbus is dying. (Actually, “Orbus is evolving in a way that is hostile to human life.”) Humans have wrecked the environment and themselves. Billie Crusoe had been a radical fighting the powers that were destroying the planet. Now she works in Enhancement, a social work type of position for the government. Something’s wrong. Every time she goes out to her car she has a parking violation even when she’s on sanctioned business stops. She is no longer safe on her farm, one of the last natural areas on the planet.
She gets a chance to join the expedition to the Blue Planet – a water covered planet that promises to be the sanctuary of humanity. One non-sentient species needs to be removed, then it will be a paradise for humans to take over when Orbus can no longer support them. Billie takes the chance (is forced into it, actually) and joins the group exploring the new planet. In it she meets the robo-sapiens life Spike, the evolving android. When the experiment goes wrong, she and Spike are left alone to struggle on the Blue Planet and it’s changing climates.
From there, Billie (and later Spike) make unexpected travels throughout time, watching as humans destroy what is around them.
The Stone Gods is a warning apocolyptic tale. Jeanette Winterson takes a cynical look at humans’ treatment of each other, current lifestyles and our envionment. At the same time it is a romantic tale between Billie and Spike and often pokes fun at ourselves (“The final frontier is just science fiction – don’t believe it.”)
She especially talks about the environment and how we are killing it – either through lifestyles or through wars. There is an interesting observation near the end in a post-World War 3 world. At this time people are taking better care of their salvageable environment (much is rendered radioactive now). One character tells Billie that the world is now “green” because people didn’t give themselves a choice. Higher technology and fossil fuels are scarce to non-existant. People have to live from the land because that’s survival.
I was able to follow and enjoy each section of the novel. But I still haven’t tied them together for the characters and at times was confused as to what happened when shifting from one time period to another. When I finished the book the overlying message was clear. We need to quickly start treating the planet better and lead a green life. I’m still puzzled about the story itself – what exactly did happen with Billie and Spike?
Of course I couldn’t read this book without thinking of a couple others I read in the last year or so. One was another novel, Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing. The other is Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us. Once again, I am reminded to recycle, reduce, and reuse. My grandchildren want to appreciate our planet as well.
Publicist provided for review