Starfarers - Vonda N. McIntyre [These notes were made in 1990:]. It was the Canadian content of this that really got me going! Yes - truly; all the old clich├ęs are here, transposed a century or so in the future. One of the protagonists, Victoria McKenzie, is a Canadian. She's also black. She lives in a group marriage with a dandified young Caucasian called Stephen Thomas and a gentle, competent Asian called Satoshi. The other main protagonist is an "alien contact specialist" (female) called J.D. Sauvage. The significance of the name escapes me, for J.D. is the repository of all the natural human hopes, fears and hesitations in this novel: anything but savage. Anyway, the four of them (together with some interestingly delineated minor characters) contrive to baffle a bureaucratic plan to turn the huge research starship on which they live and work into a military facility. They do this by getting the starship (in its experimental stages) off to an early start, and the novel ends with the first hints of contact with an alien culture. If something as light as this can be said to have a theme, contact with the alien, and one's response to it, is the thread that runs through this book. J.D. is attached to a "diver" - a genetically transformed human who spends his life with whales. All three of the partners in the "marriage", while very close, are slightly alien to each other, and Victoria's Canadian-ness makes her non-threatening but ever-so-slightly-different to the American J.D. (I'm sure that's why it's in there. Canada comes out rather well in this novel - I wonder if McIntyre visited?) And then there's the Russian cosmonaut of a different age, and various people of the elder generation. Characterization is definitely McIntyre's strength in this novel. She expanded effortlessly on the ST characters, and does so here as well. And it doesn't hurt that she's politically correct as well! [Added note: October, 1992. Victoria McKenzie; Vonda McIntyre. Hmm!]