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Defender cover The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Published by DAW Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

This novel has a particular resonance after the events of September 11, 2001. For the last several decades, we have been bombarded by the left-liberal academic establishment with messages that the belief in absolute standards of morals and justice are a form of ethnic bigotry that we need to outgrow, and that we should regard each and every culture as equally valid. If a culture should choose to follow practices that would be considered barbaric here, that is their business, and we have no right to criticize.

In the future world of Miles Flint, lunar detective, multiculturalism has been written into law. Humanity is fully subject to the laws and cultures of whatever aliens rule the areas they visit, even when they have no way of comprehending the very categories upon which those laws are based. Barbaric and often grotesque punishments are meted out upon them, or worse yet, upon their innocent relatives. The only hope of these unfortunates is to Disappear, to sever all their ties and create a new life for themselves. But that is highly illegal, and as such the Disappeared are vulnerable to blackmail or outright betrayal.

As Miles is forced to face the true nature and consequences of the high-sounding rhetoric of multicultural justice, he grows to doubt the rightness of what he is doing. In order to obey the law, he is being forced to betray his own understanding of justice, time and time again.

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Review posted August 3, 2002

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