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Fine Prey Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1998
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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About the Author
Scott Westerfeld lives in New York, New York and Sydney, Australia.
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Top customer reviews
The aliens are dragon like beings, who exude chemical which are toxic to humans. Students have to wear special suits to protect them from the aliens.
The Ayan language is peripheral and non-direct, making mastery of it elusive to straight talking humans.
The story is set against the backdrop of a world divided between the haves and the have nots, those who have embraced the technology of the aliens and those who avoid it. And the symbol of Ayan technology is the Fine Hunt.
This is a well written and very intelligent book which sets a good xenophobic theme in a Sci-fi context with a wealth of futuristic technological themes running through it. Fine Prey is an example of Fine Sci-fi!
Colonization and class are explored in Westerfeld's second novel, a deeply rich affair that continuously belies assumptions and comforting stereotypes.
The colonizers are the Aya. Apparently benign, their technology (captured with a Philip K. Dick-like joy of invention) has permeated the Earth. The pervasive influence of the Aya is felt despite their infrequent presence, capturing the remote omnipresence of the colonizer. This presence lurks over the stunning, deeply f***ed up coming-of-age story of a young student of the Ayan language named Spider. The language is devilishly complex, and only the best and brightest humans can learn it, so Spider is a sharp-witted observer. In addition to the introspection typical of coming-of-age tales, finely detailed cameos of eccentric, fascinating characters round out Westerfelds Ayanized Earth. Every setting and each new character is a delight, while your favorite characters (Quarter and Foxtrot are mine) appear and re-appear, illuminating and enriching the tale.
Spider matures in a truly global society where old money and new money, royalty and religion play out their battles of manners through the fine hunt. The fine hunt is a fusion of gymkhana and fox hunting--the pursuits of today's English upper class--spiced with biotechnology borrowed from the Aya. We typically find Spider's upper-class peers gossipping in Wildean fashion in foreign bars, like the effete heirs to an overtaken empire. Westerfeld's future tastes of the Raj. And in keeping with the English experience of cricket, the colonzied beat the colonizers at their own game, not the fine hunt, but a far older ritual.
Spider demands more than the reserved world of the fine hunt and is drawn to the seemingly darker, but ultimately more humane,underworld of the claw hunt. She gains a lover - a gloriously stalwart character, much beloved by this reader - and a sister of sorts - an outlaw student of Ayan. The sister's education, in contrast to Spider's rigid schooling, comes from a fusion of mythology and technology, breathtakingly recounted. With their guidance, Spider crosses the fine line and back again, creates a new language of the victim, and becomes divine.
Fine Prey is a book which loves language as much as the Aya do, but loves humanity more.
In fact, the exposition is the action. Fine Prey is a fascinating novel - a science-fiction/linguistics thriller, if there is such a thing. If not, Scott Westerfeld has invented it. Although the missing plot elements, like conflict, mean the novel is a bit slow in places, each chapter is driving the main character, Spider, towards the linguistic resolution.
Just as interesting as the central premise is the world in which Spider lives. In Fine Prey, Earth is a colony world; we've been taken - bloodlessly, I would imagine - by the remote, peculiar, and mostly benevolent Aya. They've given us technologies that utterly exceed our meager abilities, and we've succumbed to their patronage. In most SF novels, that would be the source of the plot, the conflict - in this one, it's the merest background. More a part of Spider's life is the mechanics of the Hunt, a popular game born out of Earth's old equine sports and the Aya's new technologies. Though the detailed descriptions of individual hunts are a bit gruesome, there aren't many of them, and the rest of the Hunt world is fairly interesting.
Overall, Fine Prey, which seems so light and insubstantial for most of the reading, is an involving book with a gripping premise and an unusual and well-described world. I think most SF fans would be glad to read this book.