The Best of All Possible Worlds
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Advance Reader’s Copy
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord is, in my opinion, everything that’s right and good with Science Fiction today. It contains mind-powered space flight, reminiscent of Dune but without the religious/spice-drug aspects. Some of the main characters are humanoid “aliens” like every non-human race in Gene Rodenberry’s alternate Star Trek universe (i.e. Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans, etc.). There is one very dead planet destroyed by a hostile enemy similar to what happens in Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga and Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, among others. And, there is futurism but not in a dystopian Brave New World or Hunger Games way but more like Asimov’s Foundation series where science remains one of the more crucial element to the survival of the human race rather than its downfall. But, more importantly than all these other fascinating tropes is that The Best of All Possible Worlds contains social Science Fiction mingled expertly with human interaction, the bonds of friendship and love through difference, and a very modern feel for a style that used to be called classic. There is good reason why I mention some of the greatest contributions and novelists of Science Fiction in the descriptions above and that’s because The Best of All Possible Worlds belongs categorized with them. Now, more than ever, we need successors to the hard Science Fiction mentalities of the past fifty years that have disappeared with the passing of the great Science-Fiction writers of the Golden Age. Karen Lord is an obvious front-runner.
A powerful, technologically-minded race of humanoid “aliens,” the Sadiri, suddenly find themselves homeless after their world has been completely destroyed by a planet-busting weapon. In an attempt to integrate themselves into a new society a small group of traveling male survivors seek refuge on the colony planet of Cygnus Beta and are challenged to rebuild their race by locating suitable DNA matches from the women that currently live there. Grace, a Cygnus Betan and a scientist trained in linguistics is assigned as liaison between the local politicians and the Sadiri to help aide them in their search for acceptable female counterparts and to build new settlements to ease their integration into society. Her Sadiri counterpart, Dllenahkh, together, with a small team of representatives from both cultures set off on an expedition across the newly colonized planet. Along the way their close friendship becomes something more than either expected. But with advanced humanoids from the stars what exactly does that mean? And where might it take them?
The Best of All Possible Worlds is a fascinating science-fiction novel that I'd recommend to readers who enjoy character driven stories with a bit of technology, some biology, mystery, alien psychology, and light, non-conventional romantic elements. Lord’s style is both elegant and subtle, her world-building spectacular, and she spends very little time telling the reader the story but rather showing it by engaging our imaginations with her concise and often poetic prose. There is a new, powerful, and creative voice in the realm of Science Fiction. Her name is Karen Lord.
File with: Jack McDevitt, mind-bending space travel, Dune, technology, Star Trek, alien culture, Gene Rodenberry, light Romance, Science Fiction, Kurt Vonnegut, Peter F. Hamilton, planet killers, and futurism.
4 out of 5 stars