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Pallas Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812509048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812509045
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,504,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Not so much a novel as a stultifying political treatise, the latest from the author of Henry Martyn is set on Pallas, an asteroid "terraformed" to be suitable for human life. Two societies compete for dominance: the Greeley Memorial Utopian Project, a totalitarian communist collective, and the Outside, a haven for freewheeling, gun-toting, Old West-style individualism. Born in the collective, Emerson Ngu manages as a teenager to escape to the Outside, where he fits smoothly into the loose, anything-goes culture. The book's meager plot concerns the collective's occasional attempts to recapture Ngu. Smith's writing is palatable enough, but he fails to create a convincing fictional environment (details such as the asteroid's minimal gravity are mentioned only in passing), and the characters are mere puppets mouthing his political views. His "utopian collective" is a simplistic straw man, and the individualistic society he clearly intends to glorify is unconvincing and blatantly based on the works of Ayn Rand (one chapter is even called "The Fountainhead"). Rand's fans might find the book appealing, but there is little here to entice other readers.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Born to a life of incessant toil inside the Greeley Utopian Memorial Project on the terra-formed asteroid called Pallas, Emerson Ngu engineers his own escape and discovers a new way of life outside the compound's Rimfence. Smith ( Henry Martyn , Tor, 1991) injects a heavy dollop of social commentary into this rags-to-riches tale of free enterprise and personal revenge. Although his arguments for libertarianism and the right to bear arms may not please everyone, his conviction and intensity give impetus to an otherwise ordinary story. For large sf collections.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

As good, if not better, than Robert Heinlein and Fred Pohl.
Alan R. Weiss
There is no explanation of the whys and wherefores and it seem a bit too much like a Deus Ex Machina to be believable.
Stephen Carville
This is a political treatise written as a scifi novel in which Smith presents his view of a utopian society.
Gary Perry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joel Simon on July 25, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The thing that most intrigues me about Smith's fiction is that, even though I know he's going to preach libertarianism to me, I also know he's going to slip in at least one new thought I'd never considered. I just never know when it's coming, or from what direction.
So...was the invention of agriculture really a positive turning point in human history? I must admit the question had never occurred to me.
The characterizations are stronger in this novel than in some of his earlier work. I get the impression that he's more confident, finding his own voice rather than trying to be Heinlein.
You can find things to quibble with. The Pallas society is a bit self-consciously old-west. In an environment where all guns have to be imported from Earth I couldn't get past how casually Emerson acquired an extraordinary speciman. The ending left me a bit unsatisfied.
But all in all it's a very fine novel; engrossing and thought-provoking as almost all Smith books are, and highly entertaining. There are very few contemporary authors that I follow around to see when the next book is due; Smith has become one of them.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alan R. Weiss on September 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Not many science fiction writers can actually create a new world populated by heroic, but real people - AND convey a sense of dynamic IDEAS about society and technology that yoju would WANT the future to become. L. Neil Smith has done just that with "Pallas", arguably his BEST BOOK ever (until the upcoming "Ceres", that is! :-) Pallas tells the story of a child inventor who grows up to become a hero amidst the largely, but not exclusively, liberty-loving colony on Pallas asteroid. While the enemy is obvious, the plot twists and turns are not. In science-fiction, its the IDEAS that count, and this book ROCKS with them. As good, if not better, than Robert Heinlein and Fred Pohl. Buy and read this book and enjoy!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
L. Neil Smith's vivid portrayl of absolute personal freedom versus the politically correct utopia is mind opening. Not only does this book show exactly the reason our forefathers put specifically into our constitiution our right to bear arms, but it also shows how things could have been if we hadn't felt the urgent need to get rid of our personal responsibilites by giving them over to a government. The clashes between Emerson Ngu and his arch enemy Gibson Altman are completely realistic, the plot flows true-to-life, and even though Smith is a bit heavy handed with libertarian rhetoric, it doesn't take anything away from the story. Besides, aren't most of us, in our most private thoughts, sick and tired of the intrusions we allow our government to make?
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By George Masologites on July 4, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
L. Neil Smith is famous -- or infamous, depending on your take of the subject -- for his heavy-handed political sermons, even to the point where the sermons seem entirely detached from the story he is trying to tell.
_Pallas_, fortunately, is mostly free of irrelevant libertarian proselytizing (Smith's politics are still evident, but they are worked into the story skillfully and in a way that makes sense), and it becomes wonderfully clear that when Smith just sets out to tell a story, he really does a pretty damn good job. This book does contain flaws, however, which keep it at 4 stars instead of 5 -- Smith, for one thing, is remarkably poor at painting his characters in shades of gray. He seems to make some gamely attempts to do so throughout the book, but for all that, his characters either fall solidly in the "good" or "evil" camps.
Related to this is another serious problem with this book (and Smith's writing in general, actually): his characters are simply not fleshed out very well, and it makes it hard to empathize with them. Smith's style of characterization is essentially to take some odd trait, attach the trait to a name, then pass it off for a character. This is why, in my opinion, his supporting characters especially come across as caricatures, which detracts somewhat from the story.
However, in spite of these problems (and others), I found myself liking _Pallas_ a great deal. Whatever his flaws in characerization, Smith is a remarkable wordsmith, and some of the concepts introduced in this book, regardless of their real-life feasibility, are fascinating. _Pallas_ is an enjoyable read with flaws that are easily overlooked while being carried along by Smith's skilled, and at times captivating, prose.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Pallas" reminds me a great deal of another novel by Mr. Smith that I greatly admired, "The Probability Broach". In that novel he first introduced the concept of citizen's arming themselves and anarchy ruling rather than a government. I will not soon forget the Presidental election in that novel where the entire Country voted -None of the Above- into the Presidental office and it was accepted! "Pallas" has returned to this concept, but through fresh eyes. The author does not assume that we have read his other novels or have heard of his unique ideas of government before (a trait that I noticed in several of his other novels). The story follows a young man who escapes from a socialistic colony and learns to stand on his own two feet in a "wild west" style fronteer town set on the asteriod of Pallas. The future technology descriptions and ideas are logical and very detailed, reminding me somewhat of Robert A. Heinlein's work.

While I have many qualms about letting anarchy rule the day, I have to admit that I have been a fan of Mr. Smith's for many years and I hope to see more novels of this caliber (if you will forgive the pun) from him.
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