Deep Merge by Linda North
Science Fiction that will transport you across the galaxy to explore a lesbian world under threat which can only be saved by the merging of two very different cultures.
Kaesah is stranded on Earth due to the death of her mate and must get home to help save her species. Toni is mourning the death of her spouse. Two women, from different worlds, must join together in a profound and unique way that will herald the start of a new path for their planets and a promising future for themselves.
Deep Merge takes us from a very familiar view of earth, seen through the eyes of an alien race, to a world in which there are only women, lesbianism is the norm, and diversity within that accepted. While the plot is one of a moral dilemma about how far you will go to save your people, the unifying theme is grief. Both women have lost their life partners, both put aside that pain to try and work together, and in so doing, find a commonality or purpose and understanding.
It is an imaginative plot, clever idea and interesting juxtaposition. Ms North makes good use of the alternate cultures to highlight how one, which has accepted and enjoys diversity within itself, still suffers from xenophobia, while the other is prejudiced and narrow minded, struggling internally with homophobia and bigotry.
The characters are solid, well developed and multi-layered. As well as Kaesah and Toni we get to meet a range of women as they travel to Kaesah’s home planet. Ms North is adept at drawing a character from a few moments of observation or a conversation. She does an excellent job of showing a range of personalities and attitudes without ever being heavy handed in her portrayals.
On the other hand she draws sparkling and vivid descriptions of the new world, transporting us to vibrant scenes that would be the joy of a set designer. We get to feel the excitement of the new visitor and the joy of the returning traveler through their view of the world and it transports us with them.
As well as an interesting science fiction tale this is a well drawn romance, slow and gentle, these women fall in love against their own will and inclination, showing how even a xenophobe can fall in love when respect comes first. They suffer very ‘human’ insecurities; their emotions are ones we can all empathize with.
Well written and crafted this was an enjoyable read and I will certainly be looking out for more books from this author.