Worldbuilding at its richest.

TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING

From the Terra Ignota series , Vol. 1

The first of a two-book series concerning a future Earth society patterned after the principles of the Enlightenment.

In 2454, nations are no longer tied to geography; instead, people ally themselves to Hives, according to their philosophical and intellectual inclinations. Discussion of gender and gender roles is essentially taboo, and organized religion is extinct. Instead, everyone is allotted a sensayer to discuss all of one’s spiritual concerns. In a world where there is no collective belief in God, what does it mean when a child appears who can do miracles? This is only one strand of the complexly webbed plot of this debut novel, written by a historian who has clearly brought all her knowledge and research to bear upon her fiction. Other strands include the corruption and decadence of the Hive leaders, who are supposed to represent separate points of view but are tied together via blood, sex, death, and secrets in ways the public doesn't realize. Then there is the theft of an influential list that affects the political ranking of those leaders. And then there is the dark, bloody history of the novel’s narrator, the once-brutal mass murderer Mycroft Canner, who most people believe is dead but who is actually essentially enslaved to the political elite, which makes exhaustive use of his brilliant linguistic, analytic, and strategic skills. Was Canner insane, or did he have a hidden motive for his crimes? How did this savage torturer seemingly lose his impulse to kill? Alas, the reader will apparently have to wait until Volume 2 to receive most of these answers, but the questions raised are at once thought-provoking, disturbing, occasionally perverted, and always entertaining.

Worldbuilding at its richest.

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7800-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2016

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With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and...

DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

GIDEON THE NINTH

From the Locked Tomb Trilogy series , Vol. 1

This debut novel, the first of a projected trilogy, blends science fiction, fantasy, gothic chiller, and classic house-party mystery.

Gideon Nav, a foundling of mysterious antecedents, was not so much adopted as indentured by the Ninth House, a nearly extinct noble necromantic house. Trained to fight, she wants nothing more than to leave the place where everyone despises her and join the Cohort, the imperial military. But after her most recent escape attempt fails, she finally gets the opportunity to depart the planet. The heir and secret ruler of the Ninth House, the ruthless and prodigiously talented bone adept Harrowhark Nonagesimus, chooses Gideon to serve her as cavalier primary, a sworn bodyguard and aide de camp, when the undying Emperor summons Harrow to compete for a position as a Lyctor, an elite, near-immortal adviser. The decaying Canaan House on the planet of the absent Emperor holds dark secrets and deadly puzzles as well as a cheerfully enigmatic priest who provides only scant details about the nature of the competition...and at least one person dedicated to brutally slaughtering the competitors. Unsure of how to mix with the necromancers and cavaliers from the other Houses, Gideon must decide whom among them she can trust—and her doubts include her own necromancer, Harrow, whom she’s loathed since childhood. This intriguing genre stew works surprisingly well. The limited locations and narrow focus mean that the author doesn’t really have to explain how people not directly attached to a necromantic House or the military actually conduct daily life in the Empire; hopefully future installments will open up the author’s creative universe a bit more. The most interesting aspect of the novel turns out to be the prickly but intimate relationship between Gideon and Harrow, bound together by what appears at first to be simple hatred. But the challenges of Canaan House expose other layers, beginning with a peculiar but compelling mutual loyalty and continuing on to other, more complex feelings, ties, and shared fraught experiences.

Suspenseful and snarky with surprising emotional depths.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31319-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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