________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006


Rogue Harvest.

Danita Maslan.
Calgary, AB: Robert Sawyer Books/Red Deer Press, 2005.
383 pp., cloth, $26.95.
ISBN 0-88995-329-5.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ronald J. Hore.

*** /4


It was panic that killed Martin Yit.

He had very nearly gotten away from them when he bolted into a blind alley rather than along a street.

Jasmine knew every blind alley in the Core. She'd grown up on these streets. He would have died there if she hadn't run into a man who took her in, who let her anger and self-disgust wash over him till it spilled out of her entirely. He'd filled the void with hope and laughter. That was all gone.

The man who ran from her had shattered her life for the sake of a political struggle Jasmine hadn't known about and didn't care about.

Jasmine and Mane ducked off the lit city sidewalk to follow him. Her eyes stayed on her target. Months of preparation for this day now cleared her mind of any thoughts other than catching the man who had killed her father. 


Set in the not-too-distant future, Rogue Harvest is a science fiction story drawn with a modern ecological theme. Written in an adventure or thriller style, the pacing of the tale will hold the reader's attention. The story centres around a young woman, Jasmine Rochelle, raised in the slums of her city in an area known as the Core. She is taken in by the man who becomes her adopted father, Owen Lamberin. He is killed under mysterious circumstances that may involve sinister political machinations. The earth has been devastated, the population reduced, and now in trying to bring it back, we have two major political forces fighting for control of what remains. One political party is committed to rebuilding the tropical rainforests gradually and wants to keep them pristine by keeping the ordinary people out. Do they have good reason for this stance, or are they covering up a nasty secret? To recreate these rainforests, this government displaces people in order to obtain the necessary land. The opposition wants to open the rainforests to the public. To add to the tension, there is an important election coming up shortly.

     Compounding the situation is the need to research new drugs in order to combat a serious disease. Jasmine's stepbrother is a medical researcher. The current government of technocrats does not allow for the harvesting of plants in the new rainforests, even for medical research. Our protagonist, Jasmine does not get along with her stepbrother Adrien; he is straightlaced, she is hardheaded and tends more toward action. Jasmine is also a gifted musician, and so we are also allowed a glimpse of the author's version of the world of futuristic music. Jasmine hires a street smart detective, Mane Silverstar to help her track down her father's assassin. Just to confuse the issues, we have a radical environmental group, Green Splinter. Are they connected to the party in power? Did they assassinate her father?

     The book leads us from the setting in the Core, all the way to the tropical rainforests. The plot covers a broad spectrum of issues from genetically engineered drugs, politics, to social problems and that popular villain, corporate greed. To the author's credit, she makes the protagonists human, showing they have their own reasons for their beliefs and courses of action.

     At 383 pages, the book has room to explore the several issues and introduce us to several well-rounded characters. The scenes set in the rainforest are vivid and realistic. Rogue Harvest is a good read. It should appeal both to the science fiction fan and the reader of general fiction who is interested in a good story and thoughts about our planet's future.


Ronald J. Hore, involved with writer's groups and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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