Books : reviews

Ada Palmer.
Too Like the Lightning.
Tor. 2016

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer—a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is a hard-won utopia built on abundance, but also on mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now taboo. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless competition is managed by all-powerful technocrats. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

Ada Palmer.
Seven Surrenders.
Head of Zeus. 2017

The year is 2454

The sun is setting on a hard-won golden age. For three centuries, humanity has enjoyed peace and prosperity fuelled by technological abundance, oracular data analytics, careful censorship… and just a little blood.

In a world dominated by seven factions, or ‘Hives’, the price of peace has been a few secret murders, mathematically planned to ensure political and economic balance. But now the secret is out, the balance is slipping and war beckons.

Convict Mycroft Canner knew this war was coming – he committed his terrible crimes to forestall it. Now, he has just one card left, a wild card no degree of statistical genius could have predicted: a thirteen year-old child with the power to work miracles. Turning thought into matter, matter into life, this child has the power to save the world, or to doom it.