From Robert Charles Wilson, the author of the Hugo-winning Spin, comes Burning Paradise, a new tale of humans coming to grips with a universe of implacable strangeness.
Cassie Klyne, nineteen years old, lives in the United States in the year 2015—but it's not our United States, and it's not our 2015.
Cassie's world has been at peace since the Great Armistice of 1918. There was no World War II, no Great Depression. Poverty is declining, prosperity is increasing everywhere; social instability is rare. But Cassie knows the world isn't what it seems. Her parents were part of a group who gradually discovered the awful truth: that for decades—back to the dawn of radio communications—human progress has been interfered with, made more peaceful and benign, by an extraterrestrial entity. That by interfering with our communications, this entity has tweaked history in massive and subtle ways. That humanity is, for purposes unknown, being farmed.
Cassie's parents were killed for this knowledge, along with most of the other members of their group. Since then, the survivors have scattered and gone into hiding. Cassie and her younger brother Thomas now live with her aunt Nerissa, who shares these dangerous secrets. Others live nearby. For eight years they have attempted to lead unexceptional lives in order to escape detection. The tactic has worked.
Until now. Because the killers are back. And they're not human.
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Hugo-winner Wilson (The Chronoliths) casts a cold eye at SF clich s in this powerful novel designed to shake up lazy readers. In an alternate 2014, contented citizens are celebrating a century of approximate peace since the Armistice ended the war in Europe. Only members of the Correspondence Society realize that an alien entity encompassing the planet has been manipulating and pacifying humanity by controlling electronic communication and sending sims artificial products of its hive mind to kill anyone who discovers the truth. This is familiar stuff, and readers will expect to see heroic humans casting off the alien tyranny. Instead, Wilson focuses on the difficult moral choices his characters must face as they consider what has been done for (not just to) humankind, and as they discover sims among their closest companions. Heroism is set side by side with deep pain, and there are no easy answers. This is a deeply thoughtful, deliberately discomfiting book that will linger long and uneasily in the reader s mind.
Customer ReviewsSee All
OK, enough, I got it!
This novel introduces a fascinating and original alternate history concept which just begs for fleshing out in more detail, as well as an intriguing and unique alien encounter motif. How I wish more had been done with that. For me, the enjoyment was sunk by an excess of gratuitous violence and unnecessarily mean spirited plot twists at the end. The same points about difficult choices and sacrifices, and the same final twist could have been achieved without leaving the reader feeling so hurt. Lighten up, Mr Wilson! Bring us back to this world with a sequel that redeems some of the people we came to know and love here! I was left almost wishing I hadn't read this because of the ending.
Complete waste of time
Poorly written and full fo contradictions. One chapter says one thing amd it is contradicted in the next. Stupid waste of time. Second book i have read by this guy. Chronoliths was bad as well.