Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer

Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer
Foreigner by Robert J. Sawyer (Italian edition)

The novel “Foreigner” by Robert J. Sawyer was published for the first time in 1994. It’s the third book of the Quintaglio Ascension trilogy and follows “Fossil Hunter“.

Afsan has an accident and is seriously injured but survives and the damaged tissues start regenerating. Unexpectedly, even his eyes start growing back but when they are complete he still can’t see anything. His problem may be mental, so he starts seeing Mokleb, who is developing the new science of psychoanalysis.

Novato continues her study of the Jijaki ark with her assistants but accidentally they activate a system that’s still working which begins the formation of a tower that extends upwards into space. Toroca continues his explorations and in a remote archipelago discovers the existence of another species of sentient saurians but the other Quintaglios react with territorial fury just seeing them.

In the first two novels of the Quintaglio trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer described the development of astronomy and evolutionism by Afsan and his son Toroca. In “Foreigner” he presents an application of psychoanalysis, which appears to have already been developed by Mokleb, a female Quintaglio unrelated to the other protagonists who can be considered the equivalent of Sigmund Freud.

Afsan is the one who needs Mokleb’s services because he suffers from continuous nightmares and his new eyes don’t seem to work even if the medical tests can find no physical problems. Afsan was the great protagonist from the first novel offering the Quintaglios not only scientific knowledge but also a hope for the future after the discovery that the moon they live on has an unstable orbit that will lead to its destruction. The difference in “Foreigner” is that the surprises connected to Afsan are the result of his inner journey made together with Mokleb.

The role of Novato and Toroca was already important, in “Foreigner” their new discoveries once again change the situation by continuing to develop the subplots started in “Fossil Hunter”. The discovery of the Others, another species of sentient saurians, who built their civilization on the other side of the moon inhabited by the Quintaglios, creates the threat of a conflict but also the hope of a collaboration. The comparison between the two species forces above all Toroca to reflect on problems, including ethical and moral ones, connected to their possible future.

Robert J. Sawyer manages to mix various scientific elements with further developments of the protagonists and other important characters in a novel that’s not very long and also contains a lot of action. From the beginning of the trilogy the discoveries of the protagonists brought important consequences with repercussions that are both personal and on their civilization. “Foreigner” represents in this sense the culmination of everything that happened in the previous novels. In my opinion this is a worthy conclusion to Afsan’s personal story.

The whole Quintaglio trilogy is allegorical, not only in the story of the development of various sciences but also in the choices that must be made when that development reveals truths that can be uncomfortable when they contradict traditions and dogmas. In “Foreigner” the hope of survival for the Quintaglios is connected to the overcoming of a real mental disorder discovered thanks to psychoanalysis.

The Quintaglio trilogy forms a single great story in which the development of Afsan’s character foes in parallel with the great changes in these sentient tyrannosaurs’ civilization. For this reason you need to read it all to really appreciate it. In my opinion “Foreigner” concludes it in a satisfactory way so I recommend reading it.

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