Karen Lord's debut novel, the multiple-award-winning "Redemption in Indigo, " announced the appearance of a major new talent--a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Read more...
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Karen Lord's debut novel, the multiple-award-winning "Redemption in Indigo, " announced the appearance of a major new talent--a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Mieville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company--yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.
Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. "The Best of All Possible Worlds "is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.
A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race--and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team--one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive--just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.
Praise for "The Best of All Possible Worlds"
"An engrossing picaresque quest, a love story, and a moving character study . . . Karen] Lord is on a par with Ursula K. Le Guin."--"The Guardian"
" A] fascinating and thoughtful science fiction novel that examines] adaptation, social change, and human relationships. I've not read anything quite like it, which makes it that rare beast: a true original."--Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series and The Spiritwalker Trilogy
"Reads like smooth jazz comfort food, deceptively familiar and easy going down, but subtly subversive . . . puts] me in mind of Junot Diaz's brilliant novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.""--Nalo Hopkinson, "Los Angeles Review of Books"
"If you want to see science fiction doing something new and fascinating . . . then you shouldn't sleep on "The Best of All Possible Worlds."""--io9"
"Rewarding science fiction for emotional grown-ups.""--Mysterious Galaxy"
" A] marvelously formed universe.""--The A.V. Club"
"A rewarding, touching and often funny exploration of the forms and functions of human culture."--"SFX"
""The Best of All Possible Worlds" . . . poses an interesting question: What parts of you do you fight to preserve when everything you know suddenly changes?"--Associated Press
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-05-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Mythopoeic Award winner Lord (Redemption in Indigo) dives into SF romance and produces an entertaining, optimistic novel. Only a few of the aloof but psychically gifted Sadiri survive the destruction of their homeworld. A number of their men arrive on the melting pot planet Cygnus Beta, hoping to find homes and wives and start rebuilding their population. When Grace Delarua is assigned to help Sadiri Councillor Dllenahkh survey local populations with relic Sadiri DNA for possible matchmaking, romance develops between the two despite many obstacles thrown their way. The book consciously references Bradbury's Martian Chronicles but feels closer to Star Trek in spirit, with a cheerful polyglot culture welcoming a race of emotionally reserved intellectuals. Delarua is a pleasant narrator, irrepressible in the face of what seems like impossible personal and professional challenges. (Feb.)
An otherworldly romance
Karen Lord’s new book, The Best of All Possible Worlds, is a strange creature. On one hand, it’s unmistakably a piece of science fiction. Lord has crafted a rich, coherent, consistent universe filled with off-world colonies, alien races and the bureaucracies that exist to serve them. There are fantastic abilities; mysterious, long-absent progenitors; and a crisis brought on by attempted genocide. Yet, if a genre work can be said to leave a specific taste in one’s mouth when finished, then The Best of All Possible Worlds also includes the flavor of romance.
Most of the book takes place on Cygnus Beta, a “galactic hinterland for pioneers and refugees” on which Grace Delarua, a self-professed language enthusiast, works as the second assistant to the chief biotechnician. Enter the Sadiri, the latest refugee population to come to Cygnus Beta. Facing the prospect of extinction—most of the remaining Sadiri are male—the stoic, mentally advanced race has sent a contingent, led by Dllenahkh, to gauge the genetic compatibility of groups of Sadiri-related settlers on the planet.
As Delarua, Dllenahkh and their team embark on an intra-planet tour of various outposts, Lord places the budding, subtle relationship between the two protagonists against the disparate backdrops of the places they visit—a story arc reminiscent of a condensed travel itinerary for the USS Enterprise and crew.
Usually, in a conflation of genres, one reigns supreme—this is especially true with science fiction and romance, two of the showier genres. Nonetheless, in The Best of All Possible Worlds, the two coexist in a harmony that’s unrelentingly understated. The result is a unique experience that’s equal parts Jane Austen and Ray Bradbury. Lord’s latest may not be the best of all possible works of sci-fi or romance to come out this year—but it’s more than satisfying.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE
Read an interview with Karen Lord about The Best of All Possible Worlds.