Walli Beckwith is a model astronaut and working with her Russian crewmates on the International Space Station when an accident injures one of her crewmates and forces the whole crew to return to Earth. Walli, however, refuses to go much to the confusion and consternation of everyone. When asked “why”, she simply says “I prefer not to.”
As she goes about routine maintenance of the station alone, we watch her interest in the Amazon rainforest and get a change of point-of-view when we learn her daughter (in her heart) is an aid worker there. Brazil is under the control of a vicious, selfish man who sees a fortune to be made by burning down the jungle to make room for “progress.” But his terrorist tactics are both destroying an ecosystem essential for the whole earth, but also engaging in possible genocide against the indigenous peoples who are losing homes and lives. Walli sees an opportunity to give voice to those people even as she knows this action will cost her the career she has as a respected astronaut if not her freedom.
She uses her new-found notoriety and social media to reach out to the whole earth community. She shows pictures captured from the space station of the wholesale destruction of the rainforest. Her daughter risks her life to contribute horrific pictures of the human cost and the camps into which the displaced tribes are forced. And the world starts watching and listening. But it takes governments to force other governments to change. She has to convince her own government to take action and intervention in other countries’ business is not the policy of the current administration.
Frankly, this story disappointed. I was expecting a science fiction story and got, instead, a story of one person’s trials and tribulations against a political system. If the book had been marketed as a “social conscience” type of story, it would do better attracting sympathetic readers. But marketed as an SF novel, it barely fits that bill.
It was well-plotted, the characters were strong and fairly interesting (although pretty standard) and the writing was certainly competent. If railing against the short-sighted policy of destruction of the Amazon rainforest is of interest, then I can certainly recommend this story. ~~ Catherine Book