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Burn Hardcover – November 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781892391278
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892391278
  • ASIN: 1892391279
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,833,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Healey on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I read this short novel on a long AMTRAK trip and imagine my surprise when part of the story took place on . . . a train! The setting is a planet that has been turned into a social experiment where the residents live in the sort of simple, utopian, agrarian society advocated by Henry David Thoreau. Unfortunately, their ideal world has displaced the planet's original residents, the Pukpuks, who retaliate by setting fires in the forests planted by the utopians.

The science fiction element of the novel felt subtle and as a reader I was instead drawn in by the character of Spur, a firefighter wounded while battling the fires, and the rural community that could be anyone's hometown. This is very much a novel about a damaged man trying to do the right thing, with a good mix of humor, action and thought-provoking moral questions that mirror those of our own 21st century world.

Good stuff. And who knew Thoreau was so fascinated by fire?
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Wright on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Kelly's descriptions of burning and being burned, and the interactions between all his characters are really well done. And some are really painful. Spur and his relationship with his soon-to-be ex-wife Comfort, the pain of his memories of the death of Comfort's brother in a self-immolation that did so much destruction, I felt them all.

The relationship of Walden with The Thousand Worlds is intricate and interestingly flawed. And the characters of Spur, High Gregory and the others of his band, and the various villagers and "government" people are very well done.

"Burn" is a very fine multilayered book that reads quickly, like a simple adventure, but will cause you to come back and think about the many philosophical questions that JPK raises.

Read this book. You'll like it!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. Donovan, Editor/Sr. Reviewer on April 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
James Patrick Kelly's BURN tells of a small planet whose new owner has his dreams of building his personal Walden from scratch - where voluntary simplicity is the rule. Unfortunately its existing inhabitants have other ideas - and they are capable of using fire to defend their own freedoms. Compromises, conflicts, and conflagrations evolve in a satisfying, changing plot that never fails to surprise.
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