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The Kindly Ones Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1987

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Baen Books (Sept. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671653512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671653514
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 10.8 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,464,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful SF book set on the cold, material poor moons of a gas giant, settled in the distant past by mistake following an uprising on the colony ship. The setting is majestic with the blue green Agememnon dominating the sky. The astronomical day is 142 hours but the people naturally work on a 24 hour day leading to fascinating adjustments. This is all by the by, but it is a beautifully realised backdrop for the action.
In the cold and rigid society necessary to survive on these worlds those who do not conform 'die', that is, they are cast out and must not be recognised by any former friends or kin on pain of their 'deaths' in turn. These people are called 'ghosts' and can only communicate with living people through 'mediums'. With increased trade with the wider galactic society the code has become strained but the society has clung to it. This is the story of how, finally, this breaks down.
I just realised, reading the dust jacket, that the hero is a woman. It takes me back to my youth when I identified with the hero regardless of sex.
A rich, thrilling adventure story.
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By Daz Pulsford on 10 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In terms of a sweeping sci-fi tale; this is pretty good - there's action, intrigue, drama, a bit of combat, a bit of romance etc.

But that wouldn't do justice to the extremely well-crafted and finely tuned commentary on the socio-political aspects of the major players, which itself can be taken as an extended essay on rigid caste systems, social injustice and inherited prejudices.

With a strong cast of characters; mainly female leads who really stand out in this gender-equalised part of the galaxy (despite all its other strictures) - and a well-developed touch in the world-building and technology areas; The Kindly Ones is a great success.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This sci-fi novel displays Scott's outstanding world-building skills and is peopled by a host of engaging and widely differing characters. She has created a highly detailed and coherent society, with consistent technology, ecosystem and social mores, that arises organically from its history and environment, and a dramatic storyline that flows unforced from this society's social and economic tensions. One might perhaps feel that the dénouement is a little too High Drama, but Scott's skill as an author is such as to ensure this is never obtrusive. I particularly loved her treatment of gender - quite honestly, I don't think I've seen this better done since I read Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness.

Highly recommended.
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By Loki on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A precarious civilisation on an icy planet handles crime by shunning the criminals- anyone who breaks the rigid code of obligations and manners. A foreigner working as a mediator, and medium is caught up in the feud which will change the planet. Likeable characters and a good feel for the economics as well as the heroics of change and war.
I also enjoyed the Road to Earth series by this author, and will be buying more of her kindle books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Complex World, full of Complex People 29 Jun. 2001
By Jo Wyrick - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one of my favorite books ever. Melissa Scott approaches science fiction with the eye for detail that is the hallmark of the best historical writers. We explore the world of Orestes with her characters, especially Captain Leith Morrigan and Trey Maturin. A stranger to Orestes, Captain Morrigan is drawn into a complex web of intrigue and war, while Trey, a licensed Mediator, is pulled into deadly fights between clan factions. This may seem like a typical plotline, but Scott handles it with the same kind of delicate detail one would expect from Mary Renault. (I re-read this book every year, just like the Persian Boy.) As the clan conflicts turns into open war, we are treated to a beautifully written escape and space travel sequence. (My heart is always in my mouth as Pipe Major makes her final lift from the field at Destiny!) Strongly written female characters are another plus in this hidden treasure!
'Space Opera' About Opera in Space 17 Sept. 2010
By Judah - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Setting is a frontier solar system with Greek names, where Citizens obey an unforgiving honor code, and breaking it takes away lives. 'Death' is total ostracism from normal society, to the point where a 'para'nim' is treated as invisible and ignored. Mediums are a special caste which talk with the dead and uphold their rights.

The book follows four main character perspectives -- Trey Maturin the deliberately genderless medium a la Caudwell (though referred to as female on my book cover), ex-spaceforce female peacekeeper Captain Moraghan who runs a mail and cargo trade ship in and out of the system, space pilot Guil who is Moraghan's female para'nim lover, and a rotating young male member of the house Halex (varies by chapters). Scott's society is beyond gender, both normal and homosexual relationships are common -- 'my space society of the enlightened future is beyond gender' background. Tons of different character perspectives, but they don't have unique voices, making the book flat.

Pacing-wise, we have detailed descriptions of operatic theater and the lemon-and-pepper scent of racing oversize rutting elk (native fauna), and then the feud starts around page 120ish. Like a real opera, the novel goes through provocation, destruction, revenge, and heroism, but from a detached non-personal viewpoint (weak voices). The genderless medium has an additional layer of detachment to the events going down.

Too many distinct forms are in this meta-fiction (novel, drama, social commentary, perspective switching, sci-fi), and none are done well. I enjoyed "Burning Bright" by Scott more.
Interesting idea. Poor execution. 5 Oct. 2014
By S. Kanetkar - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Weak book. Doesn't hold up to the expectations it sets up. Important parts of the story are glossed over in a few sentences too often in the book, as if the author could not be bothered to think through the key details. But perversely, useless scenes that do not contribute to the story in any way are obsessively described in too much detail e.g. when flying through planet rings from Electra to Orestes, or the battle scenes at the end, etc. Characterization is weak with no sense of depth to any character; the "romantic" relationships are laughable (Trey-Rehur, Guil-Leith). There are a few good ideas here and there, glued together with sloppy writing. The technology descriptions seem to be from the 1950s -- ridiculous to read in 2014 and believe they are appropriate to a space-faring civilization. Ultimately, too many deus ex machinas, and overall intellectual laziness make this a disappointing book.
Very slow start 30 Mar. 2014
By Simeon Niles - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The first third of the book goes slowly, at an almost painful pace. I kept asking myself, why was the author giving this much cultural background. I get it, the Code is brutal and unfair. Can we get to the action? If I wasn't reading it for a book club, I probably would have put it down. Thankfully, that ends about 1/3 of a way in and the conflict begins. However, even with the conflict, I wasn't satisfied. The inciting incident wasn't convincing. If you're going to spend 1/3 of a book elaborating on the stars and planets and cultural taboos, you better give a great reason why, after hundreds of years of status quo, everything gets upended. Unfortunately, Scott doesn't do that.
Many reasons to love the story 10 Jun. 2014
By E. McKee - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Read it for sheer pleasure, or read it because Melissa Scott handles alien worlds and cultural concepts with a refreshing expertise. I bought this book many years ago and I'm so glad to see it in Kindle format.
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