Friday, 23 August 2013

The View from Ararat

The View from Ararat by Brian Caswell (University of Queensland Press)
PB RRP $22.95
ISBN 978 0 7122 3067 7
Reviewed by Beverley Boorer

Anyone who read the first in the series of these three YA sci-fi novels from this award winning author will not need any introduction to Deucalion, the planet that is 34 light years away from Earth and populated with gentle creatures that are totally telepathic with each other.

The View from Ararat continues the story, but is set some hundreds of years later when the planet is firmly settled. The C-ships from Earth keep on coming, but one day a mysterious warning of a disease called the Black Crystal Death (CRIOS) arrives. Only a few people take it seriously and insist that the newest refugees remain isolated until they are sure that the disease has not arrived with them. Of course, the worst case scenario comes true and the disease wipes out about a third of the human population before it can be identified. The planet descends into chaos with little real leadership and few people left who have the ability to find out the cause of the disease and look for a cure.

The story shows just how easy it is for civilization to collapse, no matter how well established it is. The book is not written with normal chapters but reads more like a series of log entries by different characters that include the place and date of writing. These are headed for instance, Erin’s Story and told from her viewpoint. However, other entries may simply be headed “Erin” and these tell us something about the character and the story, but not from her viewpoint. Each entry advances the story and gives the reader information about that character and others. This gives the author the ability to jump from one part of the story to another without it seeming piecemeal.

The story is well-researched and gives a lot of detail, with cryogenics being the mode of travel. Frozen sleep enables the same set of characters to arrive at a distant planet without having aged. The mystery of CRIOS is slowly unfolded and keeps the reader on tenterhooks, or at least curious as to what it is and what the effects will be. The ease with which it escapes from the refugee camp and infects so many other people makes for gruesome reading, but it is so realistic that it makes the reader shudder. It could so easily happen like that in real life. Interwoven throughout are the lives, thoughts and feelings of the many people involved and the start of telepathy for the human race.

The third in the series will be eagerly reached for.

Beverley Boorer is a published children’s author. Details of her sci-fi books for children, the Jeddon Series are available from her website.   


  1. Looks like they must have re released it. I'd swear this book has been around for a while...? I remember the first one. It was, of course,really about Australia in the 1980s, as the author admitted. ;-)

  2. Hi Sue,

    You're right. Books 1 and 2 in the Deucalion series have been re-released to coincide with the publication of the third book, The Dreams of the Chosen. The review for Book 3 was posted on 22 August (yesterday) if you'd like to check it out.

    Cheers, Vicki


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