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Dust Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2007

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055359107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553591071
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bear proves there's still juice in one of science fiction's oldest tropes, the stranded generation ship, in this complex coming-of-age tale. Rien, a handmaid in a feudal society, must care for the prisoner Ser Perceval—a mutilated enemy who Rien discovers is her half-sister by an absent scion of the ruling family. Their quest for a safer home tangles with their society's own quest for safety, as the descendents of an artificial intelligence and the genetically engineered crew battle for control to save the ship from an impending supernova. Standard plot devices litter the familiar landscape: tarot, pseudo-angels, named swords with powers, and politics as a family quarrel. But Campbell Award–winning author Bear uses them beautifully to turn up the pressure on her characters, who r respond by making hard choices. And—as she did in Carnival and Hammered—Bear breaks sexual taboos matter-of-factly: love in varied forms drives the characters without offering easy redemption. (Jan.)
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“Bear proves herself to be one of the most talented writers currently working in the field.” —Romantic Times

“Extraordinary ... exactly the kind of brilliantly detailed, tightly plotted, roller-coaster book she has led her readers to expect, replete with a fantastic cast of characters.”—Booklist, starred review

More About the Author

I tell stories. I prefer the mountains to the desert, and rain to sun. My eyes are blue. I like flying on airplanes, but they keep making the seats smaller.

Customer Reviews

The characters are fully fleshed and relatable, the story and conclusion engrossing and interesting.
E. Schulz
I also enjoyed some of the science fiction concepts introduced in this book, and light mix of fantasy involved without it being complete overkill.
A fascinating book that meshes elements of fantasy and science together in a seamless blend that will please readers in both genres, I think.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brenopa on January 24, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elizabeth Bear has created a new spin on the multi-generational, planet-sized spaceship saga. Without spoiling the delicate suspense, the ship is crippled, in orbit around an unstable star system. The warring factions, who represent the officers vs engineering--must unite to save this world. The ship's Artificial Intelligences have splintered into competitive entities. The genetically altered inhabitants fight viciously over symbiont colonies of nanotech--and power tools have gained the ability speak and think for themselves. This disjointed elements must come together to ensure their survival.

Sounds like the coldest of high-tech science fiction, right? Well, it is, but Ms. Bear has managed to include angels, mythology, chivalry, knights, religion and imaginary creatures such as basilisks in a completely plausable way. She has combined a faux-medieval fantasy with hard science fiction--brilliantly.

Intricate, imaginative use of nanotechnology, wonderful "world-building"--I could smell and hear the sounds of the crippled ship, her descriptions were so vivid. Excitement, drama and emotional depth aplenty! I fell in love with the ship, and its inhabitants.

I cannot wait for the sequel.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Soronia on July 31, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many authors--and Elizabeth Bear may be the finest of them--confuse action with agency. Action is easy: things just have to happen. Agency is hard--it requires characters with personalities strong and subtle enough to impress their will upon larger events. Bear's protagonists Percival and Rien may have been subtle in their emotions, but they do blessed little about it. The characters realize they are embroiled in a conspiracy to create war, but never lose their tempers. Even greater events distract them from catastrophic war, but there are so many characters popping in and out to guide or beguile them that "deus ex machina" looses whatever drama was not lost already to cliche. Meanwhile, the "angels" who understand more about the greater task are not--enough. Not wicked, not conflicted, not dangerous--enough. They may be (and have) fantastic ideas, but they lack the drama that should be inherent in beings who are both angels (one is audaciously named Samael, another name in Christian stories for Lucifer) and the wild shards of some ruined ur-personality that once ran an entire world contained in a interstellar ship. (A note for the defensive: Drama does not have to be Machiavellian speeches or ruthless violence. It just has to amp up the emotional impact.)

Where the book really shines is the environment in which the characters exist. A brilliantly concept that fuses interstellar travel with genetic engineering and environmentalist peril, this ship is a menagerie of genius. This is made possible, in part, because Bear is an expert of the adjective. None of her descriptions are stale, and her turn of phrase is wonderfully suited to her quasi-archaic civilization. I especially enjoyed that the ultimate enemy, the deadly void of space, became the swear word--"space!
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Margaret P. on March 10, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Dust" is a futuristic sci-fi set in a dying space ship, whose inhabitants have forgotten all but their current setting. The main characters are a fragment of a computer AI, a winged lady (upper class) with fantastic nano-tech, and a young woman (servant). The young woman rescues the winged lady and they escape together, hoping to avert war.

"Dust" presents a fascinating universe. The setting is very creative, with an innovative new idea every few pages. Unfortunately, the characters aren't very likeable and don't seem to have much personality. For example, the young woman discovers that she was abandoned by her father, and doesn't seem to care. I just didn't connect to them, emotionally. About half way through the book, I set it down and didn't feel any urge to find out how it ended.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By E. Schulz on January 16, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elizabeth Bear, in "Dust," has taken the ubiquitous 'Disabled Generation Ship' in an entirely new direction.
The first installment of the Jacob's Ladder sequence reads like a mixture of fantasy, religion, and classical science fiction. The Jacob's Ladder is a disabled generation ship parked in orbit around two unstable stars. However, Jacob's Ladder isn't just a ship, its a laboratory and the whole of the world to the inhabitants. A program was initiated to force evolution of human beings, individuals who then took control of their respective sections of the world-- the bridge and engineering-- and fought.
Main characters Rien and Perceval originally intend to stop a war started by Ariane Conn. However, deeper, more subtle plots come to light when Rien and Perceval realize they are being manipulated. Not only that, the stars are going supernova and in order to save the world, they may have to abandon their original quest.
In this excellent offering, Bear creates angels who lie in wait to devour their brothers, strong women, a bluring between the lines of human and god raising fundamental questions such as what exactly it means to be human. The characters are fully fleshed and relatable, the story and conclusion engrossing and interesting. The writing is occasionally a little muddy, but you are not overloaded by the technicalities of Bear's world, rather, they're introduced slowly.
An excellent and enjoyable read.
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