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Dust (Jacob's Ladder) Mass Market Paperback – December 26, 2007
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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
Top customer reviews
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I can say that the world in Dust is fairly unique and told in a way which really and truly worked. It can be hard for an author to introduce readers to the unfamiliar, but the most difficult way I feel is to do so without utilizing a character whom is ignorant themselves. Elizabeth Bear manages to do this without any struggle or mistep.
I will touch briefly on the part of this story I found was the weakest and I say this with the tiniest mention because it was only what stopped it from getting five stars. The characters are developed, dynamic, multifaceted and deep, but they are a touch too few. There is a slight sense of the world lacking around the edges which I found a little unfortunate. I understood what the other people who arn't mentioned or named are like or might be like or doing, but I would of loved to actually get to read about them. I guess what I'm trying to say is this book could of easily been a thousand pages without overstaying it's welcome. There were aspects I understood, such as Rein having friends back home, but not enough development for me to mourn them as she had to leave home and the same holds true for percivial. Practically everyone named is important and there was a lot of story that could of been told that I wish had been.
It's a small criticism to say the biggest problem with a novel was that it was too short. The imagination and the characters and the plot and the world was all so refreshing and well thought out that you can actually fill blanks on your own. The sci fi was just brilliant and the way it paired with a fantasy element too was also very clever. I also really liked the non normality of the characters and how several taboos were very legitimately challenged.
There maybe those out there who wouldn't feel so strongly about this book as I did, but I honestly think they are missing out. This was an excellent book and if you are on the fence about reading it, I would recommend you do. The nearly four hundred pages goes by way too fast though and you'll be wishing there was more.
Loved the play on gender, gender roles and stereotypes, but I was even more enthralled by the exploration of a fractured AI consciousness.
The book is beautifully written in true Bear style and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series.