Heart of Gold

Posted by : atcampbell | On : October 2, 2001

Heart of Gold by Sharon Shinn

Seven people attended this discussion. Two also sent in comments by email. Heart of Gold is a SF novel set on a world with two major cultures: a matriarchal society of blue-skinned people called the Indigo, and a gold-skinned patriarchal society called the Gulden. The uneasy but peaceful coexistence of these two groups is threatened by a series of terrorist attacks. We view this world and its time of trouble through two viewpoint characters: Nolan, a traditional Indigo man, and Kit, an Indigo woman raised among the Gulden. Six of us had read the book.

It must be mentioned that this discussion was held when the September 11 terrorist attacks were still fresh in our minds. Reading and discussing a book dealing with bombings and biological warfare made many of us uneasy.

This book had a lot to offer. Shinn’s smooth writing style made the book easy to read. The characters were not cardboard cutouts, but were full of emotions like love, hate, envy, and lust. The Gulden and Indigo society were fully fleshed out. We learned a lot about the society as the viewpoint characters interacted with their families, their coworkers, and each other. The eventual romantic aspects were handled tastefully and did not overwhelm the main story.

A couple of people had problems with the book. One person felt that the approach to racial and gender relations was simplistic, ignoring the groundbreaking work in the 60s and 70s by writers like Joanna Russ. Another person, who generally dislikes romance, felt that the romantic elements of the story were intrusive.

I personally had an amusing notion while reading the book. When I discovered on page 1 that the races were blue and gold, I remarked to my wife “I wonder I she’s a Rams fan”. Upon turning to the author information at the back of the book, I discovered that Sharon Shinn lives in St. Louis, a city whose NFL team, the Rams, wears blue and gold uniforms.

Overall we thought this was a well-written book with good characters and ideas. The unfortunate timing of our discussion with respect to world events made it not the best book for us to read in early October. After the meeting we had dinner at Trudy’s.

–A. T. Campbell, III