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The Best of All Possible Worlds

The Best of All Possible Worlds

By: Karen Lord | Other books by Karen Lord
Published By: Random House Publishing Group
Published: Feb 12, 2013
    
Price: $11.99
Available in: Secure Adobe Epub eBook
 
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED

Karen Lord's debut novel, the multiple-award-winning Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent--a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company--yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail.

Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story.

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race--and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team--one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive--just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

Praise for The Best of All Possible Worlds

"An engrossing picaresque quest, a love story, and a moving character study . . . [Karen] Lord is on a par with Ursula K. Le Guin."--The Guardian

"[A] fascinating and thoughtful science fiction novel that examines] adaptation, social change, and human relationships. I've not read anything quite like it, which makes it that rare beast: a true original."--Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series and The Spiritwalker Trilogy

"Reads like smooth jazz comfort food, deceptively familiar and easy going down, but subtly subversive . . . [puts] me in mind of Junot Díaz's brilliant novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao."--Nalo Hopkinson, Los Angeles Review of Books

"If you want to see science fiction doing something new and fascinating . . . then you shouldn't sleep on The Best of All Possible Worlds."--io9

"Rewarding science fiction for emotional grown-ups."--Mysterious Galaxy

"[A] marvelously formed universe."--The A.V. Club

"A rewarding, touching and often funny exploration of the forms and functions of human culture."--SFX

"The Best of All Possible Worlds . . . poses an interesting question: What parts of you do you fight to preserve when everything you know suddenly changes?"--Associated Press

From the Hardcover edition.

 
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Excerpt:

BeforeHe always set aside twelve days of his annual retreat to finish reports and studies, and that left twelve more for everything else. In earlier times, he had foolishly tried retreats within comm reach of his workplace, and that was not at all helpful. There would always be some crisis, something for which his help would be required. As his salary and sense increased, he took his retreats farther and farther away, until at last he found himself going off-­planet to distant temples where the rule of silence and solitude could not be broken by convenient technologies.

This season, he had chosen Gharvi, a place with small wooden buildings scattered around a huge temple of stone, all set within the rain shadow of a mountain range. An endless ocean, both vista and inspiration, ran parallel to the mountains, and a beach between the two offered long walks to nowhere on either side. A place of two deserts, some said, for sea and land were bleak together--­one boundless, one narrow, and both thirsty.

There was a place at home very like it, and that had probably influenced his choice, but the sky was unique. The atmosphere was the cloudy bluish lavender of a recently bioformed planet, and the sun was scorching bright. It was so unlike the cool, strong blues and gentle sunlight of his home world that for the first few days he kept his head down and his door closed till nightfall.

On the twelfth day, he took his handheld, replete with work well completed, and put it in the box outside his hermitage door. He cooked and ate his evening lentils, slept soundly through the night, and rose to prepare his morning porridge. There was a little water left over from the day before (he was ever frugal), but to have enough for washing he had to fetch the new day's supply from the box. The young acolytes of the temple always put sufficient water and food into each hermit's box before dawn. It was enough to stay clean, to fill the solar pot with porridge or pottage, and to sip and slake the constant thirst that was the natural consequence of dry air and silence. The acolytes would also take away his handheld and safely transmit its contents to his workplace.

But his handheld was still there.

He paused, confused by this disconnect in the seamless order of the temple's routine. He stared at the untouched box. He looked up and frowned in puzzlement at the squat shape of the temple, vaguely visible through a haze of heat, blown sand, and sea spray.

Then he shrugged and went on with his day, a little dustier, a little thirstier, but convinced that an explanation would eventually be made manifest.

The following morning, well before dawn, the sound of the box lid closing woke him from a sleep made restless by dreams of dryness. He waited a bit, then went to bring in the supplies and drink deeply of the water. His handheld was gone, and a double ration of food sat in its place. He did not even peer into the darkness to catch sight of the tardy acolyte. Order had been restored.

"Dllenahkh, with your level of sensitivity and strength, you must go on retreat regularly." So he had been told long ago by the guestmaster of his monastery. "You are constantly looking to set things to rights, even within yourself. A retreat will teach you again and again that you are neither indispensable nor self-sufficient."

Put bluntly, learn to stop meddling. Commitment is important, detachment equally so. He congratulated himself on his developing ability to keep curiosity in check and spent the next few days in undisturbed meditation and reflection.

One day, after a long morning meditation, he felt thirsty and decided to get more water from his...

The Best of All Possible Worlds
By: Karen Lord
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