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The Best of All Possible Worlds Hardcover – 12 Feb 2013

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books (12 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345534050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345534057
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,006,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'a real delight to read' Fantasy Book Critic.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The Sadiri were once the galaxy's ruling élite, but now their home planet has been rendered unlivable and most of the population destroyed. The few groups living on other worlds are desperately short of Sadiri women, and their extinction looks imminent... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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The Best of all Possible Worlds is a slightly strange novel. I suspect that I did not quite comprehend everything that's in it. The back story is treated as so incidental that I occasionally felt a little lost.

The novel begins with a bit of a shock: a disaster / genocide has befallen a race of humanoid aliens. One branch of the remnants from the disaster is now starting a colony on an Earth-like planet that is a kind of refuge for races and nations from across the universe. All are human(ish), and they either live in little colonies and settlements on the frontier, or in big urban cities. There, we meet Grace Delarua, a bubbly civil servant / scientist / researcher, who liaises with the newly arrived aliens. After a while, they decide to form an expedition to sample and meet many of the colonies on the frontier, to check for genetic and societal compatibility, in order to start a breeding programme to revive the near extinct race.

All of which sounds bewildering and high-concept and somewhere outside my usual reading zone. But, truth to be told, this is not really a novel about plot. Or rather: I ended up finding the plot incredibly incidental. The start is slow and confusing. Most of the middle is taken up with an episodic "meet culture, experience reaction, move on" or "have travelling adventure, experience reaction, move on" type chapters. It's a bit like watching a slide show or a nature documentary. Curious, but not perhaps hugely memorable. Some people seem to be very taken with the fact that the Fair Folk make an appearance of sorts, but I had no reaction to that chapter whatsoever. I think part of the reason is that our main characters are scientists, and therefore a little detached, even when in the middle of a grand adventure.
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There were certain familiar trends in this book which were done very nicely. The Sardiri are a human(oid) race whose mental discipline and rigourous emotional control have led them to be regarded as the intellectual leaders of the explored galaxy. Remind you you of anyone? However the Sardiri do not live long and prosper, because their homeworld is destroyed leaving only those travellers, scientists and explorers who were off planet at the time. Now the race must repopulate and in order to do so they are exploring a settled world where Sardiri ancestors came, in the hope that there is sufficient genetic there.

This tale is of the research party that explores the world and told from the point of view of a civil servant assisting the party. Karen Lord has told a romantic adventure with real style. The reading is so easy that one wonders how long she took to polish the dialogue. The story reveals surprises as native and Sardiri discover more about each other.

This is a nice, good quality book. I wish some other authors would take lessons.
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Good to see the tradition of using sci-fi and fantasy to look at how societies and peoples interact is being continued. I enjoy a good space opera as much as the next person, but it's a pleasure to have a change of pace.

I also enjoyed the author's 'Redemption in Indigo' although this is in the vein of magical realist folk tale rather than sci-fi. Karen Lord is definitely joining my list of 'must-read' authors.
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This book takes a while to get going. A friend told me it was a "Sci Fi Romance novel" and I agree. You should go into it looking at the hearts of the characters.
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Poor story, poorly told. Such a shame that the writer chose to publish something that may have been written simply as an exercise in churning out x number of words per day. Two stars as opposed to one as I wouldn't want to put people off reading the author's other work which is far more carefully crafted. Puts this book into sharp relief.
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Found it all a bit tedious and meandering, and the voice of the narrator was just all over the place.
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Format: Paperback
Have you ever had such glowing things to say about a book that you struggled to find the right words? Yeah. That. That's where I am with Karen Lord's [insert word of glowing praise here] novel. So, rather than try to find the right adjectives, let me note what I most loved about this novel. There may be some spoilers in what follows, so proceed with caution.

* Lord obviously respects her readers' intelligence. She doesn't take the time to infodump or explain everything. This is a true first-person narrative in the sense that the narrator knows things and her imagined audience knows those things too, so why would she explain them? Lord expects her readers to put the pieces together into a coherent whole and I love that.

* I love that this is a very human story set against a remarkable backdrop. The focus is on two people and the story of how they slowly fall in love. Lord explores a unique universe full of sci-fi awesomeness, but that is all just background for the relationship forming between these two characters we come to love, admire, and root for. Brilliantly done.

* The Best of All Possible Worlds. Wow. When the mindships' capabilities are explored for the first time, the title takes on a whole new significance. I don't know if Lord was exploring in story the philosophy and theology behind Luis de Molina's attempts to reconcile God's sovereignty with human free will, but that is where my mind went. The title and the tragedy makes me suspect this was Lord's intention and when I made the connection, I had to set the book down and think.

* And yet, the novel was so very readable! We're introduced to lots of new terminology and yet Lord helps us to understand as she invites us to inhabit this imagined world.

* It was funny, fascinating, fun, and so very enjoyable.

When award season rolled around, I would have handed over all of the 2013 awards to Lord. This novel deserves them.
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