Unlike the first story, Eden, this one gets off to a fairly quick start.
If you prefer, the prologue summarizes what happened in Eden. But it's pretty abbreviated, you'll get a lot more out of this story if you read Eden first. I strongly recommend it.
OK, now, about this first chapter. There may be some who think I'm overly pessimistic about human progress. The Eden stories, after all, are set about four hundred years into the future. Would there still be, you may ask, such a residue of racism still prevalent by then?
Well, think about it. How long has the world been cursed with the illness of anti-semitism? Or, if you want to take another perspective, how long have those of Oriental heritage looked down on the "roundeyes" of the West, how long has African culture conceived a hatred of those with paler skin? How long has the Indian-type caste system prevailed? How long have Islam and Christianity, or Islam and Judaism, or any other pair of religions you care to name, been in conflict? How long have "real men" of many cultures disparaged women, both of their own or, even more, other cultures? It goes on and on.
The residue of the tribalism that was the hallmark of the human species' beginnings persists. Some of us do try to overcome our baser feelings, but so many, many others don't even put forth the effort. We all see it daily. Anyone who looks different from ourselves, who thinks differently, who has a different religious belief, who has different reproductive organs, who is in any way different, is not a member of our "tribe" and is therefore of at best secondary worth and is defined as an"enemy" with whom we must be in perpetual conflict. It's a mark of the human condition, one of which we as a species can scarcely be proud, but one of which nevertheless many individuals do regard with pride.
I have no confidence in our species' ability to shed such garbage from our natures. It's too ingrained. Racism, sexism, and all the other "isms" that prevent humans from recognizing their common heritage and aspirations and acting cooperatively to pursue their common destiny have been around for as long as history records, and I don't see them vanishing any time soon. Civilization takes a long while to penetrate more than skin deep.
So communities and individuals such as the ones I postulate in chapter 1 will, I expect, continue to exist. I know they do now-I've seen it far too often-and the future, to me, doesn't look a lot brighter. People seem to thrive on prejudice and class hatred, and, while I wish it weren't so, progress doesn't seem to affect that. So I think that the Earth to which Igwanda and Meiersdottir returned from Eden is, regrettably, a realistic one.