- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (May 17, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 076530371X
- ISBN-13: 978-0765303714
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Permanence Hardcover – May 17, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
After his well-received first SF novel, Ventus (2000), Canadian Schroeder offers a complex, conceptually satisfying story of interstellar intrigue, cosmology, theology and nanotechnology. The scattered members of the book's far-future intergalactic culture inhabit either space stations (aka "halo" communities) around brown dwarf stars that are supplied by Cycler craft on prescribed, intergalactic routes or "lit" planets with fusion-based suns that are linked by faster-than-light ships. Meadow-Rue Rosebud Cassels, a young woman living on the space station Allemagne and eager to escape her violent half-brother, discovers an alien artifact once possessed by a succession of militaristic individuals, both human and alien. Rue's artifact, apparently a new Cycler, ignites a struggle for money and power that alternately switches her from outcast to important property owner. As Rue masters political infighting and battle tactics, she picks up such loyal followers as Michael, a mystic and anthropologist, and Max, her resourceful cousin. Amid all the fast-paced space adventure, some readers may wish for clearer details to help guide them from one scene to the next. The narrative fairly bursts with interesting ideas, like the religion of Neo-Shintoism and the philosophy of Permanence, but the result too often resembles digressions that belong in an anthropology study, not a novel. In truth, the author packs in enough material for several volumes. Yet Schroeder knows how to entertain and should continue to build an audience across a broad range of SF fans.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In this future, humans have long-since mastered the art of surviving in alien environments but have become divided. Pioneer Halo Worlders settled brown dwarfs between the visible stars, and adapted with daring, art, and creativity. But when faster-than-light travel was discovered, the richer, more monolithic Rights Economy claimed the Earth-like planets of the "lit" stars; that society's overriding principle has been ownership-of everything. The human need for enlightenment expresses itself through Permanence, a non-metaphysical religious order seeking the eternal survival of our species. In a beginning reminiscent of classic Heinlein, scrappy young Rue daringly escapes from a bad situation and heads for her home in Halo World; she happens upon an alien artifact that promises to make her rich but instead lands her in a galactic crisis and she must find her sea legs fast. Meanwhile, in a Rights Economy project, Michael, a monk in the outlawed NeoShinto order, is assisting in a scientific study of extinct alien civilizations as he covertly collects their kami, or essence. Rue, Michael, and a large cast of equally colorful characters must determine the correct use of mysterious alien technology and then fight like the dickens if their species is to survive. This suspenseful, complex tale asks many intriguing questions and illustrates more scientific principles than a semester of science labs. Some readers might not quite follow all of the rapid twists and turns, but they will want to hang on to reach the story's satisfying conclusion, where a thoughtful solution emerges amid plenty of fireworks.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The jump cutting which some reviewers see as a jumble didn't bother me, though some of it is clumsy, as if an editor-in-a-hurry dictated it without much forethought. But I soon settled into the story again, and even appreciated moving on.
I also don't get the accusation of flat, wooden characters. They are no different in Permanence than in Ventus, except perhaps even more introspective.
Schroeder's explicit emphasis this time on the value of religion is refreshingly unusual for a modern scifi author, too many of whom see science and religion as incompatible. Here, religion's greatest enemy is a sort of hyper-capitalism whose obvious cure is the free trade envisioned by the cyclers whom the reader is encouraged to imagine will be triumphant.
I really tried very hard but had to stop at chapter 28 with the soapy and exceedingly naive romantics.
I cannot believe that I let it go on that long.
The tale is jagged, confusing, jumbled. Its characters do what they do because Mr. Schroeder wants them to, not from any sort of internal motivation--at least none discernible to me. The science is dippy: tool-making species, intones Michael's boss, Professor Herat, in a plot stopping interlude, are doomed because their tool making is a compensation for their failure to adopt to their environment (duh). There's FTL, but it doesn't work everywhere and not everybody has it (but they all want it), but everybody bops around free of the problems of time dilation, etc. etc. (eh?).
There's a villain, of course, Admiral Crisler, who used to be a scientist (oh please!) and he does everything but twirl his cape and go bwaa haa haa. (Anyone? Anyone? Whiplash? Whiplash?)
You'll probably stay till the end; there's some good space opera here and the final invasion of Crisler's domain is well-done. But maybe you'll feel exhausted rather than elated when you reach the final page.
This book is so unfocused (especially compared with the author's debut novel) that you may wonder how it came to be. I have an idea. I think that Mr. Schroeder's editor asked him if he had anything else in the pipeline post-"Ventus." Voila! Mr. Schroeder pulled this out of his drawer (or out of his computer?) and the editor set to work trying to make something coherent of it. But there was just no way.
Ah well, maybe next time Mr. Schroeder will deliver a winner. For sure he's capable of it.