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The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Novel Hardcover – February 12, 2013
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“An engrossing picaresque quest, a love story, and a moving character study . . . [Karen] Lord is on a par with Ursula K. Le Guin.”—The Guardian
“[A] fascinating and thoughtful science fiction novel that examines] adaptation, social change, and human relationships. I’ve not read anything quite like it, which makes it that rare beast: a true original.”—Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series and The Spiritwalker Trilogy
“Reads like smooth jazz comfort food, deceptively familiar and easy going down, but subtly subversive . . . [puts] me in mind of Junot Díaz’s brilliant novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”—Nalo Hopkinson, Los Angeles Review of Books
“If you want to see science fiction doing something new and fascinating . . . then you shouldn’t sleep on The Best of All Possible Worlds.”—io9
“Rewarding science fiction for emotional grown-ups.”—Mysterious Galaxy
“[A] marvelously formed universe.”—The A.V. Club
“A rewarding, touching and often funny exploration of the forms and functions of human culture.”—SFX
“The Best of All Possible Worlds . . . poses an interesting question: What parts of you do you fight to preserve when everything you know suddenly changes?”—Associated Press
About the Author
Karen Lord has been a physics teacher, a diplomat, a part-time soldier, and an academic at various times and in various countries. She is now a writer and research consultant in Barbados. Her debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, won the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the William L. Crawford Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.
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Reviews have made comparisons to Ursula K. LeGuinn, another author I love. I see the similarities in Karen Lord's exploration of different cultures and in the relatability of her characters. I absolutely loved Dllenahkh and Grace Delarua, the protagonist. Delarua's irreverent, down-to-earth personality sparkles throughout the book. Despite the driving tragedy of the destruction of the Sadiri homeworld and most of the population, the plot focuses on healing and moving forward, making it particularly uplifting.
Another reviewer compared this book to the works of Jane Austen, which was what ultimately made me press the Buy button. The similarity to Austen is in the delicacy of Dllenahkh's and Delarua's courtship. It's a delight reading about two very different people getting to know, respect and value each other. There's certainly an undercurrent of physical attraction, but it takes a back seat to the personal aspects of the relationship. I was tickled by Lord's nods to classic writers like Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Those were fun little Easter eggs to discover.
While the Sadiri borrow heavily from Star Trek's Vulcans (logical, telepathic, long-lived, physically stronger than ordinary humans), Delarua's empathic experience of them gives them much more depth and humanity. Though they express it little, the emotional lives of the Sadiri are as complex as any other human's.
If I have any complaint, it is only that I wish Lord had described the physical aspects of the characters earlier in the book. When Dllenahkh and Delarua are described more then halfway through and even at the very end, it was such a surprise that I went back to see if they'd been described earlier. They hadn't.
It's a fairly minor issue, but I have to add that the formatting of the Kindle version was nicely done. Often traditional publishers treat their e-books as an afterthought, the formatting blah at best and unreadable at worst. Someone took some care with this book.
The Best of All Possible Worlds might be a little bit of a genre-bender. Hardcore SF fans might be put off by the romantic aspect and romance readers might be unsatisfied with the low-key romance. But for me, the book was almost perfect, one for my "favorites" shelf.
The story is much more interesting and challenging than I make it sound.
Most recent customer reviews
Well written, though not terribly ambitious.