Burn (2005)

An extremely rich guy called Jack Winter has bought a planet, renamed it Walden and tries to remake it into a backwards, utopian society that shuns most technology. Some of the earlier settlers don’t want to to live at that level of primitivity nor do they want to emigrate elsewhere, and when the newcomers uses a rapidly growing form of tree to alter Walden completely, the old settlers set them on fire.

This reminded me strongly of the similar novel Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick. In direct comparison though, Burn lacked the same poignancy. It’s still well written with likable characters and a neat plot, but toward the end the conflict of whether such an utopia can really be made to work or whether it will break due to inevitable progress is sidestepped for some action and personal character development, which are nice but feel weak compared to something more … well significant.

I don’t just want to get a table full of different viewpoints laid out, I want to see characters and through them the story take a stance either way, with all the bad and good consequences. By not taking sides for or against this utopian experiment, by playing the ambiguity card, the story is ultimately weakened.