Who isn't a sucker for a good robot story? Few sci-fi fans can resist such a staple of the genre, especially when it's done well, and the first section of Tony Daniel's three-part Earthling stands shoulder to shoulder with the best. Daniel is an able and imaginative writer, and his gentle, curious mining robot Orf is a bona fide charmer. Reactivated for a deep-digging geological research project, Orf is imbued with the memories of a dead geologist and acclimatizes himself to the world like a wide-eyed, articulate child, observing mating moths with the same detached fascination as he does a cold-blooded murder.|
Although the poetry-loving Orf is the novel's common thread, he ceases to be its focus after the first section. That part closes when Orf discovers sentient beings ("terranes") in the Earth's mantle, and cataclysmic earthquakes and flooding destroy the northwestern U.S., plunging the world into chaos. As exciting as all that may sound, these portentous events signal only the unraveling of Earthling's patchwork narrative. The disappointing middle section follows the harrowing--and gory--journey of a Park Service ranger (the Park Service being just another warring, post-apocalyptic tribe) delivering medical supplies to California. Earthling's third and final section nearly--but not quite--salvages the novel, fast-forwarding to the year 3000, where society "trances" across the galaxy and studies the Earth not as an organism but as a piece of art.
Source: Paul Hughes, Amazon.com.