Bantam Spectra, Jan 2005, 13.00, 325 pp.
Humanity has split into two distinct species. The Unevolved retain the same DNA that mankind has had for millenniums while the Forged have been customized by splicing and pasting animal genes with mechanical devices to adapt them to whatever job their creators the Unevolved want them to perform. The Forged thirst for freedom from these "chimp" makers, but their dream seems impossible as the Unevolved feel it is their lot to protect these lesser beings.
The symbiotic relationship between maker and offspring changes when Voyager Lonestar Isol seeks a shortcut through debris near Barnard's Star. Instead the microscopic remains of an explosion caused by an alien presence punch holes into her turning her into Swiss cheese. The Forged ponder whether this third sentient species still survive and how could they have thrived without the leadership of the Unevolved. Hope amongst the suppressed Forged rises that they can form their own world without their keepers, but the Unevolved will never allow them to go because they depend on the Forged to survive.
NATURAL HISTORY furbishes a deep thought provoking look at group interrelationships. The Unevolved seem like a future version of colonialism while the Forged come across as victims unable to break the dependency chains though irate towards those who keep them enslaved. The discovery of a third intelligent species shakes the so called natural order.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner