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Burning Paradise Hardcover – November 5, 2013
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“The finest science fiction author now writing.” ―Stephen King
“Outstanding...The various science and thriller plot elements are successful, but this is first and foremost a novel of character.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Axis
“The long-anticipated marriage between the hard sf novel and the literary novel, resulting in an offspring possessing the robust ideational vigor of the former with the graceful narrative subtleties of the latter, might finally have occurred in the form of Robert Charles Wilson's Spin....Wilson does so many fine things, it's hard to know where to begin to praise him.” ―The Washington Post on Spin
“Spin is many things: psychological novel, technological thriller, apocalyptic picaresque, cosmological meditation. But it is, foremost, the first major SF novel of 2005, another triumph for Robert Charles Wilson in a long string of triumphs.” ―Locus on Spin
About the Author
Born in California, ROBERT CHARLES WILSON grew up in Canada. He is the author of many acclaimed SF novels, including Darwinia, Blind Lake, Julian Comstock, and the Hugo Award–winning Spin.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Burning Paradise" does not deliver any heavy information dumps or depend on SCIENCE! to pad the frame of its story, but instead plays with a bit of alternate history in the process of exploring ideas about interactions between very different forms of life, and . This is the point of the book, which fails to deliver Michael Bay-like action sequences in purple prose. Persons demanding simple characterizations in simple scenarios doing simple things for simple reasons, in a book that may be simply looked at and subsequently discarded will be disappointed; this is not of the Dean Koontz/Steven King/David Baldacci "Thriller of the Month" specie of novel. Someone wanting to actually read this book and think about what they are reading will get much more from it. Of course, that is a driving force in science fiction, to think about and explore ideas, and in this context "Burning Paradise" is very willing to deliver.
Another philosophical concept explored in "Burning Paradise" is self-determination. The alien entity modifies human society by dampening the self-destructive bellicosity which seems to exist at the center of man's heart of darkness. Subtle manipulation of human aggressive behavior directly benefits the aliens and secondarily enhances world peace. Relative to the sad history of this planet, the "Earth" of "Burning Paradise" enjoys a very peaceful and productive 20th century. However, the price of peace is restricted freedom of choice, in particular the choice to kill and make war on other people. Humans in the novel face a dilemma in which recovery of freedom of choice requires destruction of a symbiotic relationship and a return to a warlike state of nations. "Right” and "wrong" in this circumstance are not clear-cut and the reader cannot help but wonder about the final decision.
Character development, which generally is not one of Wilson's strengths is excellent in this novel. Characters move plausibly toward actions and decisions. The people in the novel are believable. One area that strains credibility however are the fairly complex philosophical discussions of thought and consciousness that erupt from time to time. In the context of an excellent work of fiction the flaw is minor indeed.
I could easily find a hundred little observational gems in this book to highlight, but the story itself just kind of plods along and the ending wasn't anything special.
I've read all his other books two or more times, but probably won't read Burning Paradise again.