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Spherical Harmonic (The Saga of the Skolian Empire) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: Saga of the Skolian Empire (Book 7)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812568826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812568820
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Catherine Asaro's Saga of the Skolian Empire has quietly become one of the most interesting, ambitious, and popular science-fiction series since Dune, captivating readers with its complex universe, its diverse cast of sympathetic characters, and its imaginative blend of hard SF, future history, military SF, space opera, family saga, and romance. Spherical Harmonics is the seventh book in the loosely organized series.

A woman comes to consciousness on a world she doesn't recognize, and fades out again--literally. As nonexistence and awareness alternate, the woman regains her memory, realizing she is Dyhianna Selei, the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Empire, who was destroyed in a star-spanning battle that ravaged both her empire and that of its enemy, the Aristos. Instead of dying, Dyhianna was transported to a distant world via the quantum-mechanical universe of Hilbert space--and now she is in danger of disappearing permanently into that nonphysical universe. And that isn't her only problem. Her husband has been physically and psychologically scarred by his captivity in Aristo hands. She may have to overthrow the elected government of her own Empire in order to resurrect it from the ashes of the Radiance War and defend it from the powerful Aristos.

Spherical Harmonics follows (and sometimes overlaps) the events in The Radiant Seas, 031286714XThe Quantum Rose, and Ascendant Sun. Other books in the series include Primary Inversion, Catch the Lightning, and The Last Hawk. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This fast-paced entry in the Saga of the Skolian Empire (The Quantum Rose; Ascendant Sun; etc.) provides a backstory with plenty of battles and political machinations that will no doubt delight fans of the series, but may leave others scratching their heads. We follow the flawless and very powerful Dyhianna Selei, after she wakes up on the moon Opalite, as she slowly regains her memory and seeks to be reunited with her husband and son no easy task, as her husband has been captured and enslaved while her son has disappeared into psiberspace, perhaps forever. Psiberspace, which links together the commerce of several star systems, is down, and suddenly everyone is jockeying for power Dyhianna, unwillingly, among them, as her family becomes a rallying point for followers dissatisfied with the status quo. A coup places Dyhianna in power as both the reigning Pharaoh of the Ruby Empire and as the leader of the representative Assembly, an unprecedented sociopolitical change with far-reaching implications. Her quest to regain missing family members takes her to Earth, where the presence of her fleet threatens the volatile relationship between the Skolian Imperialate, which Dyhianna now leads, and the Earth Alliance. Asaro, a physicist, weaves scientific descriptions of Kyle space, spherical harmonics and orbitals with fantastic elements of psychic powers and mental telepathy. Science and fantasy make an uneasy mix here, but underpinning and transcending both are complex interpersonal relationships that center on love and loss. (Jan. 3)Forecast: Billed as SF romance, this has obvious crossover appeal to romance readers, but they may be disappointed to find no big compelling love story.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on December 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Spherical Harmonic" is the seventh book in Catherine Asaro's somewhat non-linear Skolian Saga. Having dealt with many of the other major members of the Valdoria-Skolia-Selei family, Asaro now turns her attention to Dyhianna, the Ruby Pharoah and the woman that created the means by which the Skolian Imperialiate functions as it does: the psiberweb.
For those of you not familiar with Asaro's Skolian universe, in a nutshell, humans crawl their way into the stars in the twenty-second century to find out that, surprisingly enough, humans already occupy most, if not all, of the inhabited planets in the galaxy. Two warring Empires, the Skolians and the Eubians, have fought to control about three-quarters or so of the inhabited planets in the galaxy between them. The Skolians are, in theory, a democracy, although power is uneasily shared between the Skolian ruling family and an elected council. They run their Empire-Democracy through the means of a sort-of collective mental net in which sufficiently sensitive telepaths can communicate instantly with each other, providing an unparalleled means of coordination within the culture. The Eubians, on the other hand, are not only tyrannic and imperial, but they are obsessed with genetics and virtually all the ihabitants of their Empire are slaves. Earth, which finds itself the great Switzerland of the galaxy, finds itself often on the sidelines holding together an alliance that provides the pivot on which the galactic balance of pwer hangs.
All of her previous books have dealt with various members of the Skolian royal family, but Pharaoh Dyhianna has always been a rather shadowy background figure.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely not the book to try first if you're new to Catherine Asaro's Skolian novels. Though it opens with drama and tension, that tension vanishes as soon as the danger does. The structure here, unfortunately, is a series of very long reports of backstory interwoven with scenes--and with Asaro's trademark delicious physics divertimenti. It's hard to stay with this one; the internal thrust just isn't there, instead, the reader sticks with it to find out what happens to characters from other books they know and love. Either Asaro needed to write a whopping big novel so that events could be in realtime, or this should have been two or three books.
Fans will want to have it to know what's going on. New people, do try PRIMARY INVERSION or THE LAST HAWK for a more engrossing, and more linear, introduction to the Skolain empire and its leaders. This one is not the place to start.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lb136 VINE VOICE on August 30, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Catherine Asaro's "Spherical Harmonic" is the latest in the Skolian Empire series, which could turn out to be one of the greatest sf series ever conceived. And maybe it's the best tale so far. Not only does it move the Skolian Empire series along in grand fashion, but it also brings some of the incidents in previous volumes (most notably "The Quantum Rose" and "The Last Hawk") that had seemed to be diversions into the "main line" of the series. In this episode Catherine zooms in on Dhyianna (Dehya) Selei, the Ruby Pharoah, who's been a shadowy presence in the series until now.
Catherine's time line, which appears at the end of every book in the series, simply tells us that in 2277-78, Dehya "coalesces." Exactly. The novel deals with rebirth, the physical rebirth of Dehya and of the Ruby Dynasty itself, as Dehya sets out to collect the Skolians' scattered surviving members (they've been decimated by a destructive war).
Dehya coalesces virtually naked and alone on a primitive world and doesn't quite know why. Throughout the book she keeps acquiring family members, friends, and allies (and clothing), and at the end is quite a formidable presence indeed. The structure in a way is similar to Ravel's "Bolero," which starts out with a single instrument and a single melodic line and ends colorfully and thunderously.
The story sweeps along in grand fashion, filled, as always, with action, romance, and painless lessons in quantum physics, as Dehya learns that sometimes she has to go against the people she admires and work with those she doesn't. All Catherine's characters are complex, reluctant heroes, and Dehya might be the most complex of all. She learns her lessons well and she learns the limits of power.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Maxwell on November 1, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In many ways this is a fill-in-the-blanks book in the Skolian saga. This book concentrates on Dhyianna Seli, the Ruby Pharoah at the time of the Radiance War.
Unlike many of the other books in this series, this one does not concentrate on a romance, including grand sex scenes. Instead this is a political outing, which describes what happened in a political sense at the end of the Radiance war (primary iverson & the radiant seas).
Dhyianna comes across as being absolutely essential to the empire and her complaints of the control the skolian assembly has over her family has a sort of hollow ring given how much of what happens in the empire revolves around her individual skills.
For some reason, in the other books you get the impression that the 'trader experiment' which produced the hightron race happened in the recent past, but in this book that event is redefinied as having taken place thousands of years ago (which makes more sense).
This is not the most inspired book in the series, but it's a definate building block to be read for filling out the Skolian/Allied/Trader universe and the interesting mess that is the Ruby Dynasty.
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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

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