Reviews: Kingsbury, Donald

Eugenic Love Story

Courtship Rite — Donald Kingsbury

Donald Kingsbury has been writing science fiction since the 1950s, but he has never been particularly prolific. In fact, over the seven decades of his career, he has published a mere five novels, five novellas, and an excerpt (so far as I know).

Perhaps the most remarkable of his novels is 1982’s Courtship Rite (also published under the title Geta). I have a few scars thanks to this book 1, but that is not the only reason it is remarkable.

No sensible person would colonize a world like Geta, given a choice. It is arid, poor in many resources essential to advanced technology, and its native lifeforms cannot be digested by terrestrial life. It promises a short impoverished life and eventual starvation to anyone foolish enough to settle there.

The first colonists—marooned?—came from a starfaring civilization, but even that did not save them. The survivors made some hard choices that let them prevail and persist, in the process losing most of their technology and most knowledge of their past. As far as the Getans know, they were placed on Geta by their god to test them. And their god is not grading on a curve.

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