From Publishers Weekly
Hugo-winner Kelly (Think like a Dinosaur) mixes hard-edged extrapolation with messy human issues in this thought-provoking SF novel. The inhabitants of Transcendent State, a colony of "true humans," have rejected advanced technology for lives of voluntary simplicity on a world renamed Walden. They are threatened by the pukpuk, survivors of a previous settlement who seek to stop plans to cover the planet with healthy, dense forest by setting fires in the wilderness. Now even Walden's citizens are beginning to question their charter's tenets of simplicity, secretly trading produce and handmade goods for pukpuk tech through a thriving black market. The spark that will ignite Walden's final conflict comes from one of its own, firefighter Prosper "Spur" Leung, when he unwittingly contacts the High Gregory of Kenning, ruler of a distant world. "I make luck," the High Gregory says, turning Spur's commitment to Walden's (and Thoreau's) philosophy of self-reliance and the primacy of nature upside down. Kelly's many-layered story pivots on a set of paradoxes, asking questions about the difference between innocence and willful ignorance, responsibility and balance, and the true essence of nature. (Jan.)
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Bored while recovering from burns received in the line of duty, fruit farmer turned fireman Spur decides to contact similarly named people throughout the Thousand Worlds. He reaches a boy on a throne, who says he makes luck and becomes very interested in Spur's world, the small planet Walden, designated a simple--living utopia by the wealthy man who bought it from its mother planet. A few days later, homeward bound from the hospital, a hover stops the train to take Spur aboard. On the aircraft are the boy, a gaggle of other children from other worlds, and their superintendent. The kids are all extraordinary and, as it happens, intent on resolving the warfare on Walden, which consists of the pre-utopian inhabitants setting forest fires to resist the forestation of all the land the Waldenites don't farm. Besides its fireman hero (a reversal of Montag in Fahrenheit 451) and its would-be-utopian setting, the warm humanity and rural sympathies of this affectionate, winsome short novel will make many recall Ray Bradbury at his best. Ray Olson
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