four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
57-Mar-Apr-2012
By: 
Rob Ziegler
user_rating: 
0

A-SeedSeed is Rob Ziegler's debut novel.

The Story: In the 22nd century, global warming has resulted in a dying world where extremes in temperature have annihilated North America's flora and fauna--including humans, who must migrate across the continent twice per year to avoid scorching summers and subzero winters. The government has collapsed in the face of oil shortages and economic disintegration, and a powerful supercorporation, Satori, calls the shots thanks to its ironclad control of the only remaining food source--seeds genetically engineered to survive the inhospitable environment. When one of Satori's top genetic designers, Pihadassa, vanishes with a shipment of seeds, her disappearance triggers a massive investigation--and possibly a battle that will finish off the rest of humankind.
Night Shade Books. 350 pages. $24.99. ISBN: 9781597803236

Barnes & Noble 4 of 5 Stars"[An] exceptional post-apocalyptic novel. ... Brilliant world building, an impressively thick storyline, and some powerful social speculation make this another must read." Paul Goat Allen

Guardian (UK) 4 of 5 Stars"Hardwired into Ziegler's post-apocalyptic vision of a [United States] ravaged by famine and warfare, is an exploration of the extreme material scarcity that the collapse will create for generations to come. Through a Rust Belt landscape of decaying cities and starving refugees, Ziegler weaves a fast-paced action plot, creating a powerful metaphor for the choices we face today in a world of economic uncertainty." Damien Walter

Onion A.V. Club 4 of 5 Stars"Nimbly steering clear of preachiness and sloganeering--in spite of the clearly contemporary message--Ziegler offers a slim thread of redemption that stems from his characters' archetypal American ass-kicking. ... Overwhelmingly, Seed is a taut yet teeming future-shock thriller, not to mention a worthy addition to the perverse, burgeoning canon of dystopian Americana." Jason Heller

SFFWorld.com 4 of 5 Stars"The Earth Mother waking and a bleak, dystopic future aren't new trappings of the genre, but Ziegler's voice gives these elements a freshness. ... Despite [a slightly uneven narrative], Seed is an impressive debut and one that hopefully, signals more wonderful things to come from Rob Ziegler's imaginative voice." Rob H. Bedford

Tor.com 4 of 5 Stars"It's hard enough to write a good post-apocalyptic story, or a transhuman/bioengineering one, or a military SF one, but to write all three and weave them together into one captivating plot is simply amazing--especially for a debut author. ... The pace is full speed ahead right from the start and doesn't let up until the end, but Ziegler infuses enough character depth and genuine emotion into the story to make it much more than just another action-packed SF adventure." Stefan Raets

Strange Horizons 3.5 of 5 Stars"This scene-by-scene realism anchors the novel's brutal, if mostly predictable, story. ... Seed is most compelling as a portrait of characters and a society struggling, and mostly failing, to adapt to changing circumstances." Matt Hilliard

SF Signal 2.5 of 5 Stars"The book had a lot of promise, and while it does present some interesting ideas throughout, it's hampered by a chaotic and splintered story and characters that are hard to empathize with. ... There are equal parts military science fiction, post-apocalyptic biopunk message and anti-corporate/political story elements to it, and none are really given the chance to make the point that they could have made."

Critical Summary

In his "eerily plausible" (SFFWorld.com) vision of the future, society--or what is left of it--struggles to adapt to a barren and desolate world. Ziegler's nuanced characters, stunning descriptions, and ability to combine multiple SF subgenres easily compensate for a somewhat uneven and predictable story line. At times, noted Strange Horizons, the world Ziegler has created seems too abbreviated. (For example, there is only one biotechnology company, Satori, left standing in the nation and perhaps in the world. Really?) But this oversimplification also allows Ziegler to focus on the narrative while avoiding tedious exposition. Seed may be a bleak and uncomfortable novel, but its freshness, believability, and haunting imagery mark an impressive debut from a promising new writer.