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Catch The Lightning (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) Mass Market Paperback – October 15, 1997

3.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alhough Asaro returns in her second novel to the far-future Skolian Empire of her first, Primary Inversion, she begins the story in 1987, on an alternate Earth. In Los Angeles, narrator Tina, 17, rescues Althor, a Skolian Jagernaut (elite space-pilot) whose ship has flung him back in time and into Tina's alternate universe. Before their adventures conclude, Tina and Althor return to Althor's own future and get married. Many of the novel's complications spring from the pair's common Mayan ancestry, which has bequeathed to both of them powerful telepathic and empathic faculties, from Althor's status as a cyborg who is in effect a royal prince and from the Skolian Empire's ability to generate all the bloody plots and counterplots one would expect of any self-respecting interstellar empire. Asaro, who's a physicist, offers an intelligent exploration of possible links between telepathy and quantum physics and informs many of the scenes between the lovers with power and tenderness. But her story is too often comprised of a jumble of elements derived from myriad commercial-fiction genres. Despite strong characters and many fine passages, it fails to cohere and to deliver the vibrant reading experience that her first novel offered.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Returning to the Skolian Empire she first created in Primary Inversion (LJ 2/15/95), Asaro introduces Tina, a contemporary Mestiza teenager living in California, who is transported to the future with a Skolian pilot named Althor. In this sensual tale of telepathy and love between Mayan descendants of different worlds and times, Asaro continues to develop the Skolian culture. Recommended for sf/fantasy collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Saga of the Skolian Empire (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Rei Rep edition (October 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812551028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812551020
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,269,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Asaro: Renassaince Woman

Propped against the bookcase in Catherine Asaro's home office is the framed diploma of her Harvard Ph.D. in chemical physics. Nearby, dangling from the doorknob, is a bag stuffed with the tights and leotards she wears when she pulls herself away from her writing for ballet classes. A former professional dancer, this California native has little time for the ballet barre these days. Instead, she's fielding speaking offers and meeting deadlines for her novels.

Winner of the Nebula (R) Award for her novel, THE QUANTUM ROSE, and her novella, "The SpacetimePool," Catherine blends exciting adventure, science, world building, romance, and strong characterization into her fiction. Her latest publication is The Nebula Awards Showcase 2013, for which she served as editor. Her latest books are the novel Carnelians (Baen) and the anthology Aurora and Four Voices (ISFiC Press). Her story "The Pyre of New Day," which appeared in the anthology The Mammoth Book of SF Wars, was nominated for the Nebula Award. She also writes thrillers, including ALPHA and SUNRISE ALLEY.

Catherine's short fiction has appeared in Analog magazine and various anthologies, including "Walk in Silence," "A Roll of the Dice," and "Aurora in Four Voices," which all won the Analog Readers Poll for best novella, and were nominated for both Nebula(R) and Hugo Awards. Her novella, "The Spacetime Pool" (Analog, March 2008), is currently up for the Nebula(R). Catherine has also published reviews and essays and authored scientific papers in refereed academic journals. Her paper,"Complex Speeds and Special Relativity" in the The American Journal of Physics (April 1996) forms the basis for some of the science in her fiction. Among the places she has done research are the University of Toronto, the Max Planck Institut für Astrophysik, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She was a physics professor until 1990, when she became a consultant and writer.

Catherine also has two music CD's out and she is currently working on her thirds. Her first CD, Diamond Star, is the soundtrack for her novel of the same name, performed with the rock band, Point Valid. She appears as a vocalist at cons, clubs, and other venues in the US and abroad, including as the Guest of Honor at the Denmark and New Zealand National Science Fiction Conventions. She performs selections from her work in a multimedia project that mixes literature, dance, and music with Greg Adams as her accompanist. She is also a theoretical physicist with a PhD in Chemical Physics from Harvard, and teaches part time in the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

In Catherine's youth, the arts were her focus. She studied ballet from age of five, trained in classical piano, and spent hours curled up with books. She successfully pursued London's Royal Academy of Dance syllabus through the first professional level and enrolled at UCLA as a dance major. Then she discovered she loved math and science. "I hadn't studied it much in high school, but at UCLA I ended up taking a lot of science and math," she remembers. "I struggled at first and sometimes I felt like I had no clue. Then one day I read the chapter in my chemistry book on quantum theory--and I was hooked. It felt more right than any other subject I had studied." She went on to earn a BS with Highest Honors from UCLA, a masters in physics from Harvard, and a doctorate in chemical physics, also from Harvard.

Catherine attributes her ability to entertain a broad reading audience in part to her upbringing. "My father is one of the four scientists who postulated that a comet hitting the earth caused mass extinctions, including the demise of dinosaurs. My mother was a student of English literature who loved to write, so from the beginning I was influenced by both the sciences and arts." While pursing her degrees, Catherine continued to dance, founding the Mainly Jazz Dancers and Harvard University Ballet. Perennially on deadline, she now focuses more on her writing than research, but she often speaks on the intersection of science and art at venues such as the Library of Congress and Georgetown University.

Catherine is also proud to coach the Howard Area Homeschoolers, whose students have distinguished themselves in numerous national math programs, including the USA Mathematical Olympiad, MathCounts, and the American Regional Mathematics League. She has served two terms as president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA).

Born in Oakland, California, Asaro grew up in El Cerrito, north of Berkeley. A challenger of rules since her childhood, she explores the boundaries of genre fiction in her novels. "It's like stretching different muscles for dance class," she says, adding that dancing and math aren't as dissimilar as people may think. "There is a beauty in seeing a math problem come together just as there is in performing a ballet. And the discipline it takes to do ballet well is similar to that needed to do math." But no matter what the style of her novels, she writes from the heart. "The flashy adventure is fun," she says, "but the characters mean the most to me, both as a reader and as a writer."

Visit Catherine Asaro Visit her at www.facebook.com/Catherine.Asaro

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Catch the Lightning came as a suprise to me, since I read it immediately after completing Primary Inversion. I wanted a novel which continued the plot of Primary Inversion, which was written eventually. The novel contains more romance compared to her other novels, and the plot's focus drifts. Although the book gives us a glimpse of the greater Skolian timeline, it stands alone very well. I would recommend Primary Inversion over Catch the Lightning.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Catch The Lightning is one of those books you just can't put down! The characters are so real and the story so compelling that when I got to the end of the book, I was looking for more! How often does an author come along who can enthrall the often deadly-critical science fiction readers with a universe that is most likely not only possible, but makes you want to live there and struggle side by side with its characters? Another thing that makes Catherine's book both unique and enticing is the realistic detail and emotional display of the characters. I would have to say that if -I- met a strange, gorgeous man on the street who 1) saved me from being raped (possibly killed), 2) who could feel my thoughts / emotions AND 3) was SENSITIVE to them...I'd go for him! :) Truely, Asaro is one of the best science fiction authors of this century and I hope to learn more and more about the Skolian Empire and it's people from her. Also, I think that her content and writing style could become a cornerstone to future science fiction...not only interesting those of us intrigued by futuristic societies, space travel, technology, etc...but those interested in adventure, mystery, and good old fashion romance. I give Catherine an ecstatic two thumbs up and on a scale of 1-10, a 10+! p.s. I was just as thrilled by Primary Inversion as well! :)
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By A Customer on September 16, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a gem. Exciting and imaginative. I couldn't put it down. It was at first a surprise to be reading a story told first person by a woman, but the character, Tina, compelled my interest. She is a far cry from the plastic dolls that fill in as love objects in some fiction. Her husband, Althor, is believable too, a hero in the real sense of the word, a man who faces problems in his life and overcomes them. Although this is a hard science fiction book, the style of the writing sometimes feels like that of Latin American writers who do magic realism.

I wasn't surprised to read in the cover blurbs that Asaro is a scientist; that comes through, most of all in the physics and genetics. Some chapters take place in space habitats, which are done with realism. The scenes describing the approach to the habitats make you want to go there. The world building also piqued my interest. The detail is enormous and if anything Asaro tries to do too much. She has enough to fill many books.

Another reason to read this book is the love story. Asaro isn't afraid to show genuine love between her characters. The scenes are tasteful, but also sensual, a refreshingly mature treatment. The combination of hard science and love story caught me by surprise, but it works. I hope Asaro continues in this vein, as there is no one else who seems to do it, except Ursula Le Guin.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ahhh, what a satisfying book. If only everything I read were this good, well, I'd probably never get anything done! This is the second book in Catherine Asaro's Skolian Empire Saga and is also another not-to-be missed read for hard-core scifi fans and romance readers looking for a well-written futuristic love story.
Ms. Asaro has created another extraordinary heroine and hero while maintaining a non-stop action filled read. I now know why these books appeal to so many different types of readers - there's adventure, romance, political intrigue and interesting future societies and theories that boggle the mind.
The best thing about this book for me was the characters. If I can't care about them I just won't be able to get into a book, no matter how interesting others may find it. The author takes as much care developing her characters as she does her plot which makes this book so special. Tina may only be seventeen but she was forced to grow up early and her actions, and responses to the unbelievable situations she's thrust into are very realistic. She's vulnerable and tough, smart and easy to like. Althor is a perfect match for her, he's strong, sensitive and moody and with her strong empathic abilities she's probably the only one who would be able to fully understand and love him.
My only complaint, and it's a minor one really, that can probably be attributed to the fact that I don't read much hard scifi, is that sometimes the book lapsed into long technical explanations that jogged me out of the story and because I read this book immediately after finishing PRIMARY INVERSION some of the explanations didn't seem necessary to me so I skimmed them. Despite that nit I can't recommend this one highly enough. The characterization is flawless - you'll love and route for these people as they face impossible odds.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Catch The Lightening takes place about 50 years after Primary Inversion in the same universe and the same family.

Althor the 2nd being the nephew-not brother of Soz. Althor through some kind of damage to his Jag ends up on an alternate historical Earth-1987-where he meets Tina- a 17 year old empathic direct descendant of the Mayan Native Americans. Tina lives in a scary, gang-infested alternate 1987 Los Angeles. One night on her way home from her waitressing job she meets a strange gold man holding a box and mumbling to himself. He is looking for the White House where his mother is being presented with an award and his english is very poor. Against her better judgement she speaks to him, he saves her-predictably-from mean gang bangers and eventually she invites him into her home, heart and body. What follows is Althor malfunctioning-though a very interesting mix of computer and man as seen through the eyes of someone like myself. The powers that be in 1987 Los Angeles discovering Althors ship and responding predictably by trying to capture and study both Althor and the ship. Althor ulitmately escaping with the help of some brilliant students from CalTech. Returning, with Tina, to his own time and universe where he must unravel if his ship malfunctioned or was sabotaged. The story line was pretty weak from begining to end with this story. The fact that Tina lives in a gang-infested area on her own at 17 should make her far to savvy to take home a huge stray man-no matter what empathic connection they share. The idea that a bunch of kids from CalTech-however brilliant-are able to break security on a military base to even get back to Jag is shaky at best. The story was just highly implausible to begin with.
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