Finalist for the Hugo Award • “Ofelia—tough, kind, wise and unwise, fond of food, tired of foolish people—is one of the most probable heroines science fiction has ever known.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
For forty years, Colony 3245.12 has been Ofelia’s home. On this planet far away in space and time from the world of her youth, she has lived and loved, weathered the death of her husband, raised her one surviving child, lovingly tended her garden, and grown placidly old. And it is here that she fully expects to finish out her days—until the shifting corporate fortunes of the Sims Bancorp Company dictates that Colony 3245.12 is to be disbanded, its residents shipped off, deep in cryo-sleep, to somewhere new and strange and not of their choosing. But while her fellow colonists grudgingly anticipate a difficult readjustment on some distant world, Ofelia savors the promise of a golden opportunity. Not starting over in the hurly-burly of a new community . . . but closing out her life in blissful solitude, in the place she has no intention of leaving. A population of one.
With everything she needs to sustain her, and her independent spirit to buoy her, Ofelia actually does start life over–for the first time on her own terms: free of the demands, the judgments, and the petty tyrannies of others. But when a reconnaissance ship returns to her idyllic domain, and its crew is mysteriously slaughtered, Ofelia realizes she is not the sole inhabitant of her paradise after all. And, when the inevitable time of first contact finally arrives, she will find her life changed yet again—in ways she could never have imagined. . . .
“Pure satisfaction from cover to cover.”—Anne McCaffrey
Employing colonies of contract workers, corporations harvest the resources of alien worlds in the future envisioned here by Moon (Winning Colors). To the faceless bureaucracy that owns her contract, 70-year-old Ofelia Falfurrias is dead weight: too old to work, too old to bear children, she's too old to be worth keeping alive. Tired of being dictated to, Ofelia stays behind when the Company moves the colony to another planet. Her newfound freedom is intoxicating, but she quickly discovers that she is not alone. The planet has an indigenous race, one that has good reason to suspect human interlopers. Ofelia must convince her hosts that she is not a threat; then she'll have to learn to live with them. Moon does a splendid job of bringing her characters to life. Ofelia is as likable as she is cantankerous, and the aliens are vividly imagined. Themes of independence and the value of wisdom form the backbone of this well-written, original novel.
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Elizabeth Moon usually writes about space, adventure, war, life and magic. This story is a wonderful departure from her usual affair. In short, "Remnant Population" is a story about life on a colony planet on the brink of failure, an old woman who decides she will not leave when the colony is abandoned and her adventure as the lone remaining colonist, her witness of the arrival of new colonist and their destruction in a rage filled attack by nomadic aliens, her first contact with an intelligent alien life form, and the magic of valuing our grandmothers. This was such a wonderful departure I couldn't put it down.