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PostHeaderIconBook/Story (Don's)

PostHeaderIcon September Book of the Month

September's book of the month is The curse of the Zwilling. This is a dark fantasy set in Maryland. At Patasco University, a group of college students faces an ancient evil.

The book will be one sale during a specific week in September, and I'll be giving a lot of information about it, mostly on Twitter. Click here to find out more.

PostHeaderIcon The Indie Boom in Publishing Helps Writers Create More Than Just Novels

Authors Melissa Scott and Don Sakers had always wanted to collaborate on a project, but each attempt produced sprawling ideas and enormous casts of characters that couldn’t easily be confined to a conventional series of novels, much less to any shorter format. As electronic publishing opened up new formats and lengths, it became possible to imagine serial fiction again — and not just serial fiction, but the kind of serial fiction that would allow novelists to explore the sort of expansive, elaborate universes more commonly seen in comics. For the first time, Scott and Sakers could work at the scale their story demanded, without sacrificing character, setting, or idea.  What’s in the story? Pirates. Judges. Weird physics. Desperate refugees. Struggling colonists. Missing persons and a mystery ship. A quest for human origins in a pocket universe. A thousand individual stories that together create a much larger tale.

Thanks to websites like Patreon to handle payments, and open-source website building tools like Drupal, the sprawling serial space opera The Rule of Five launches in September 2016, taking full advantage of the enormous canvas available on the web. Each month, Scott and Sakers will post an episode of at least 2000 words — a solid short story. All subscribers will be able to see each month’s episode plus the previous episode. Subscribers at higher levels can get a quarterly ebook compilation, access to all past episodes, and even a print editions containing each completed Season, as well as public acknowledgement for their support. For readers joining the series in progress, quarterly and seasonal compilations will always be available to bring them up to speed.

Taking advantage of change, The Rule of Five offers a new kind of serial science fiction, borrowing structure from comics and series television, but firmly grounded in classic space opera. The prelude is open to all at tinyurl.com/ro5prelude. Episodes will be hosted at rule-of-five.com along with background information about the series. Readers can subscribe to The Rule of Five at patreon.com/ruleof5

PostHeaderIcon Elevenses

Elevenses cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
A collection of sf/fantasy diversions
Pages: 
99
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
Fantasy
Eleven sf and fantasy short stories intended as bite-size snacks
One-Paragraph Description: 

Elevenses is a collection of sf and fantasy short stories, intended as bite-size snacks. There are 11 of them (naturally), including "The Cold Solution" (award-winning answer to Tom Godwin's classic "The Cold Equations"), "The Slow Train," and "The Geas Ingenerate," a new Hoister Family story. 

Long Description: 

Elevenses is a collection of sf and fantasy short stories, intended as bite-size snacks. There are 11 of them (naturally), including "The Cold Solution" (award-winning answer to Tom Godwin's classic "The Cold Equations"), "The Slow Train," and "The Geas Ingenerate," a new Hoister Family story. 

Other stories include "the Real Thing," "Coco," "Purgatory," "Buying Time," "The Finagle Fiasco," "Escape Velocity," and "Coco."
 

PostHeaderIcon PsiScouts #2: Bright Promise

Bright Promise, the second book in the PsdiScouts series, is now available in Kindle format

In the 26th century, psi-gifted teens from all over the Myriad Worlds come together as the heroic PsiScouts. Headquartered in the rebuilt Statue of Liberty, the PsiScouts struggle to make a difference in an often-hostile universe.

In the first of two adventures, three PsiScouts must travel through time on the trail of a madman whose plans threaten history iteself. Along the way, they meet some living legends and make some fast friends.

In the second adventure, a group of PsiScouts penetrates a vicious theocracy on a rescue mission that uncovers a terrible secret—a savage hunt where runaway teens are the quarry.

Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men, the Teen Titans, and the Legion of Super-Heroes will certainly enjoy the exploits of the PsiScouts.

PostHeaderIcon PsiScouts #2: Bright Promise

PsiScouts#2: Bright Promise
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers & Phil Meade
Psi-gifted teens tackle theocracy & a threat to history itself
Pages: 
170
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
PsiScouts
Series Order: 
2
26th century psi-gifted teens fight theocracy and travel through time to save history itself.
One-Paragraph Description: 

In the 26th century, psi-powered teens from across the Myriad Worlds come together as the PsiScouts. Whether it's a mission deep into a theocracy to rescue endangered kids, or a time-travel odyssey to save history itself, the PsiScouts are equal to the challenge.

PostHeaderIcon Boxed Sets

 

The published Scattered Worlds books are now available in two ebook sets in Kindle format.

Beyond Our Stars: a Scattered Worlds omnibus ($8.99) contains Weaving the Web of Days, A Voice in Every Wind, All Roads Lead to Terra, A Rose From Old Terra, and The Leaves of October.

Worlds Afire: a scattered Worlds omnibus ($6.99) contains three novels of the Hoister Family: Dance for the Ivory Madonna, The Eighth Succession, and Children of the Eighth Day.

These ebook sets are the most inexpensive way to get up to date on the Scattered Worlds Mosaic.

PostHeaderIcon Beyond Our Stars

Beyond Our Stars
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
a Scattered Worlds omnibus
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
99
Reading order: 
99
Five Scattered Worlds books in one ebook.
One-Paragraph Description: 

Contains 5 Scattered Worlds books: WEAVING THE WEB OF DAYS (intergalactic space opera), A VOICE IN EVERY WIND (adventure on an alien world), ALL ROADS LEAD TO TERRA (two tales of attacks on Earth), A ROSE FROM OLD TERRA (Librarians save the Galaxy), and THE LEAVES OF OCTOBER (the Hlutr: immensely old, terribly wise...and utterly alien).

PostHeaderIcon Worlds Afire

Worlds Afire
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
A Scattered Worlds Omnibus
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
99
Reading order: 
99
Three Scattered Worlds novels in one ebook.
One-Paragraph Description: 

Contains three Scattered Worlds novels featuring the Hoister Family. DANCE FOR THE IVORY MADONNA is a near-future cyberthriller; THE EIGHTH SUCCESSION and CHILDREN OF THE EIGHTH DAY are space opera that pits a family of paranormal clone geniuses against the Galactic Empire.

PostHeaderIcon Children of the Eighth Day

Children of the Eighth Day
Ebook cover: 
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
The Fey vs the Galactic Empire
Pages: 
392
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
LGBT Interest
Protagonist(s): 
Bi
Biracial
Black
POC
Queer
Woman
Character(s): 
Bi
Biracial
Black
Gay
POC
Queer
Woman
Interests: 
Adulthood
Black
Jewish
Polyamory
Queer
Setting(s): 
East Africa
Earth orbit
Exoplanet(s)
Our Galaxy
Genre(s): 
Adventure SF
ESP/Psionics
Galactic Empires
Gender Roles
Psychological/Sociological SF
Religious/Philosophical SF
Robots/Artifical Intelligence
Space Opera
Teleportation
Transhuman
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
4.75
Era (SWM only): 
4.750
Reading order: 
3
Paranormal clone geniuses vs the Galactic Empire (LGBTQ interest)
One-Paragraph Description: 

Rikk Hoister and his cousins are the pinnacle of human evolution, cloned geniuses with powerful paranormal abilities. Life is good- until ships and soldiers of the Terran Empire invade their homeworld and take most of the Hoister Family captive. Now it's a race across the Galaxy as Rikk and five other Hoister survivors unite in a desperate search for allies. At stake is not only the fate of the Hoisters...but the destiny of the Galaxy.

Long Description: 

Rikk Hoister and his cousins are the pinnacle of human evolution, cloned geniuses with powerful paranormal abilities. Life is good- until ships and soldiers of the Terran Empire invade their homeworld and take most of the Hoister Family captive. Now it's a race across the Galaxy as Rikk and five other Hoister survivors unite in a desperate search for allies. At stake is not only the fate of the Hoisters...but the destiny of the Galaxy.

The Eighth Succession introduced readers to the Hoister Family...Children of the Eighth Day takes the story of this remarkable family to the next level.

PostHeaderIcon Meat and Machine

Meat and Machine
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
queer writings
Pages: 
368
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
Fantasy
Genre(s): 
LGBT Interest
A collection of queer sf, fantasy, nonfiction, and erotica
One-Paragraph Description: 

Don Sakers has been queering science fiction and fantasy for three decades. Meat and Machine collects 24 short pieces of science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and erotica. 

Long Description: 

Don Sakers has been queering science fiction and fantasy for three decades. Meat and Machine collects 24 short pieces of science fiction, fantasy, nonfiction, and erotica. Meet 

  • Mauzy Broadway, a genderless alien with a career as a female impersonator
  • Bobby (who went to Vietnam), Kevin (who stayed home), and the weird power that brought them together
  • Captain Quasar, superhero with a secret
  • Nicol and Eryn, lesbian couple living on the fringes of a colony world
  • as well as many other gays, lesbians, drag queens, bad boys, and a centaur or two.

PostHeaderIcon Jaelle Her Book

Jaelle Her Book fearures stories and essays by guest authors at the annual Darkover Grand Council, in memory of Judy Gerjuoy (aka Jaelle of Armida) and Darkovercon. This memorial volume commemorates 36 years of Darkovercon and the remarkable woman who brought the con to life and shepherded it through that time.

Stories and essays were donated by the authors. All proceeds will go to Darkovercon. This volume is only available through March 2014, after which it will be withdrawn from publication.

Includes work by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Charles Butler, Margaret L. Carter, Carl Cipra, Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald, Esther Friesner, Elektra Hammond, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Mike McPhail, Don Sakers, and Melissa Scott.

The book is now available in both print and ebook versions, but there's an important proviso. Please read the following before buying a print edition from Amazon.

If you buy a print edition for $5.00 from Amazon, Darkovercon will receive 22¢ from your purchase (and you'll pay shipping). If you buy a print copy at the con, Darkovercon will receive the full $5.00 (and no shipping charge). Since this is primarily a fundraising volume, we want to maximize the con's share.

If you will be attending Darkovercon, please wait to buy your copy/copies at the con. If you're not attending Darkovercon this year, go ahead and purchase from Amazon.

The con will make $3.50 from each e-book copy sold, so go ahead and buy them for yourself, your friends and family, and random strangers.

Here are the Amazon links: print and e-book.

PostHeaderIcon October Reference Library Now Available

The October issue of Analog is out, and my Reference Library column is online here.

This month's essay talks about how to keep up with the changing availability of science fiction. Reviews include the latest by Connie Willis, J.E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and L.E. Modesitt, Jr. as well as the new Nebula Awards Showcase.


Check out the index of my reviews, which is available here, or through the Beyond link above. You can search by author, title, year and month, and even by genre.

PostHeaderIcon September Reference Library Now Available

The September issue of Analog is out, and my Reference Library column is online here.

This month's essay talks about the changing availability of science fiction. Reviews include the latest by Jason M. Hough, Pamela Sargent, Steve Proskauer, and Robert Silverberg & Damien Broderick.


Check out the index of my reviews, which is available here, or through the Beyond link above. You can search by author, title, year and month, and even by genre.

PostHeaderIcon The Leaves of October

The Leaves of October cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
How would intelligent, long-lived trees judge the Human race?
Compton Crook Award finalist 1989
Parts 1 & 2 appeared in The World's Best SF anthologies for their respective years
Pages: 
300
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
8.5
Era (SWM only): 
8.500
Reading order: 
1
The Hlutr: immensely old, terribly wise...and utterly alien
One-Paragraph Description: 

Humans were savage, uncontrolled, aggressive and unpredictable. Should the Hlutr encourage them -- or exterminate them?

Long Description: 

The Hlutr . . .

Immensely old, terribly wise...and utterly alien. Long before life crawled from the oceans of Earth, the forests of the Hlutr stood on a million worlds. Their soundless songs filled space, and their mastery of evolution had brought peace to countless planets.

When Humanity went out into the stars . . .

They found the Hlutr waiting for them. Waiting to observe, to converse, to help. Waiting to judge...and, if necessary, to destroy. Humans were savage, uncontrolled, aggressive and unpredictable.

Should the Hlutr encourage Humans -- or exterminate them?


The Cult Classic Back in print after a decade and a half

Parts One and Two of this book, originally published as Analog novelettes, each appeared in The World's Best SF anthologies for their respective years. The novel was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award. Wavelengths Online calls it "an underrated SF gem." Speed-of-C Productions is proud to bring The Leaves of October back into print with a brand-new epilogue written just for this edition.

An underrated sf gem.

-Wavelengths Online

Review: 

Rambles says: The Leaves of October was first published in 1988 and I wish I had read it then. It uses a series of short stories, following two different time lines, to unfold the relationship between man and Hlutr. The stories focus on the interactions between individuals as they tie into the relationship between species. Sometimes they are adversaries, often they are friends, but they change those directly involved and the world around them. The one thread focuses on the relationship between one man as he grows up and a Hlutr. These tales are brief moments, showing the changes he goes through, the important moments of his life as he shares those moments with the Hlutr. It eventually ties in to the other thread near the end of the book. The second thread travels through time to show how the relationship between man and Hlutr grew. Each story is told by a Hlutr as they try to understand man, sometimes amazed and sometimes shocked by what we do. At times they struggle with what to do with us, whether they should save or destroy a species that is capable of so much good and so much that is ill. The answers never come easy and as in all things the past influences the present. Not only are the stories well written, the characters are real. At times you can see the edges of what could have been if they had chosen differently. You also see parts of why they chose to do what they did. And their choices stem from who they are and what has gone before. There is always a reason, and the reasons make sense. ...Don Sakers has woven a wonderful tapestry of tales together into a greater whole with The Leaves of October. Take the time to listen to the tales with heart and mind, to see what they have to show.

- Rambles

written by Paul de Bruijn published 9 August 2003 http://www.rambles.net/sakers_octleaves03.html

PostHeaderIcon A Rose From Old Terra

A Rose From Old Terra cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
Librarians in Space
Pages: 
268
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
LGBT Interest
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
5.38
Era (SWM only): 
5.380
Reading order: 
8
A group of far-future librarians travels to a distant part of the galaxy to save civilization. (LGBTQ interest)
One-Paragraph Description: 

A peaceful settlement becomes ground zero in a clash of Galactic cultures—and a bare handful of Librarians are all that stand between the Galaxy and disastrous interstellar war….

Long Description: 

Librarians in Space

A single yellow rose summons Jedrek nor Talin back to Old Earth. A decade ago, he served the Terran Grand Library as one of the guardians of Humanity’s collected knowledge. Now the last Librarian has called together the members of Jedrek’s broken work circle to protect the Library from its greatest threat.

Four millennia after the Terran Empire fell, the Galaxy’s communications system is breaking down. Jedrek and his coworkers set off into deep space to repair ancient Imperial equipment. But they aren’t the only ones…for the warring remnants of the old Empire have also dispatched ships on the same mission.

Suddenly, a peaceful settlement becomes ground zero in a clash of Galactic cultures—and a bare handful of Librarians are all that stand between the Galaxy and disastrous interstellar war….

Review: 

Library Journal says:

When former librarian Jedrek nor Talin, now attempting to recover failing technology from the defunct Terran Empire, receives a single yellow rose by special courier, he must travel to Old Terra -- Earth -- to come to the assistance of his old circle of librarians. A voyage to deep space to repair ancient communications equipment places Jedrek and his companions in the middle of a situation that could erupt into interstellar war and destroy human civilization forever. Author and librarian Sakers adds to his "Scattered Worlds" series (Weaving the Web of Days) a tale of adventure and intrigue as only a group of librarians can do it. A good addition to most sf collections and sure to be popular with library staff everywhere.

PostHeaderIcon A Voice in Every Wind

A Voice in Every Wind cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
Visit a world in which scent and taste are as important as vision and hearing
Pages: 
108
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
4.882
Era (SWM only): 
4.882
Reading order: 
4
Two linked novelettes set on a world in which scent and taste are as important as vision and hearing
One-Paragraph Description: 

Human explorers and settlers learn to live with the Kaanese: a race which communicates by scent and taste, for whom consciousness and sapience are new experiences, and intelligence and culture are in the throes of being born.

Long Description: 

Kaa

A world where . . .

...creatures communicate by scent and taste as much as sound and sight.

...meaning lives in every rock and stream, and every breeze brings a new voice.

...consciousness and sapience are new experiences, and intelligence and culture are in the throes of being born.

And where . . .

...one Human explorer stands on the threshold of discoveries that could alter the future of humanity.

In a new novel about alien culture that echoes LeGuin, Don Sakers explores a world where scent and taste are as important as vision and hearing in two novelettes connected over a span of 60 years.

-SF Revu

Review: 

This is either a two part novel or two linked novelettes, depending on how you look at it. The first section introduces us to an alien world where the indigenous lifeforms communicate in unusual ways and where intelligence and self awareness is just beginning to appear. A single human visitor finds himself in the midst of wonders. The second half takes place a couple of generations later, with a well established human colony interacting with the very alien world around them. Sakers has created a fascinating alien ecology, and the first half is much more interesting than the sequel, although both are quite readable."

Chronicle, December 2003, p. 44
written by Don D'Ammassa

"Have you ever experienced a situation when you have tried to explain the way you truly feel to someone else, yet words are just too limited? As much as they nod their head and say that they understand, you know that they cannot relate on the same emotional level to the pain and suffering, or the elation and excitement, that you are experiencing.

What if I told you that there was a place where communication is brought to a higher plane? In Don Sakers' Scattered Worlds universe, there exists a planet known as Kaa. In Sakers' own words, "The natives, every form of life on Kaa, all communicate constantly by sophisticated chemicals in the environment. Enzymes, complex proteins, things that behave like viruses ... it's symbiosis on a scale we can't even begin to imagine." This passage comes from the book aptly titled A Voice in Every Wind.

Similar in style to The Leaves of October (another book in the Scattered Worlds series), Voice is really a set of novelettes spanning two different time periods. In the first, a single human, Treyl, and a Kaa native, Dleef, spend time together learning about each other's cultures. Through Treyl's eyes, this is an amazing world that must be further studied. Dleef, on the other hand, feels pity for the humans. They may have conquered the stars, but they communicate like children.

In the second tale, set 60 years after the first, the human war between the Terran Empire and the Patalanian Union has come to Kaa. As this planet is responsible for a major percentage of the healing drugs used throughout the universe, this is prime real estate.

For the past 60 years, Dr. Treyl and his staff have been working on the "Project" -- discovering the secrets behind Kaa's symbiotic nature. If man felt the pain he inflicts upon others, would that cure his violent nature? Is chemical communication between humans even possible? Will the war destroy any attempt to find out?

At less than 100 pages total, it certainly won't take the reader long to find out. The first part of A Voice in Every Wind was written in 1986, yet it is certainly still an interesting read today.

Sakers' work reminds me, in a way, of early Orson Scott Card books. Their writing styles are definitely different, yet they both have the ability to draw you in to a story through a unique perspective. Both authors will have you thinking not only about future human interactions but also any eventual contact we might have as we spread out from our home planet. If you are not familiar yet with any of the Scattered Worlds series, A Voice in Every Wind is as good a place as any to start."

Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 24 January 2004

http://www.rambles.net/sakers_voice03.html

PostHeaderIcon All Roads Lead to Terra

All Roads Lead to Terra cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
Two Tales of the Scattered Worlds
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
4.852
Era (SWM only): 
4.852
Reading order: 
5
Space opera: Two tales of attacks against Earth
One-Paragraph Description: 

"Gamester" and "Candelabra & Diamonds" tell of attacks against the shining jewel of the Terran Empire: Earth. Includes an introduction and notes from the author.

Long Description: 

"Gamester" and "Candelabra & Diamonds" tell of attacks against the shining jewel of the Terran Empire: Earth. Includes an introduction and notes from the author.

PostHeaderIcon The Eighth Succession

The Eighth Succession cover
Ebook cover: 
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
Clone paranormal geniuses against the galactic empire
Pages: 
176
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
LGBT Interest
Protagonist(s): 
Bi
Black
Woman
Character(s): 
Bi
Biracial
Black
Queer
Woman
Interests: 
Adulthood
Black
Polyamory
Queer
Setting(s): 
East Asia
Exoplanet(s)
Our Galaxy
Genre(s): 
Adventure SF
ESP/Psionics
Galactic Empires
Gender Roles
Psychological/Sociological SF
Robots/Artifical Intelligence
Space Opera
Teleportation
Transhuman
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
4.74
Era (SWM only): 
4.740
Reading order: 
2
Galactic intrigue and adventure, in the tradition of Theodore Sturgeon & James H. Schmitz (LGBTQ interest)
One-Paragraph Description: 

When Yewanda Hoister (five-year-old clone paranormal genius) heads out into the big, wide galaxy on an unauthorized trip to see her beloved cousin Rikky, what could go wrong?

Long Description: 

In the tradition of Theodore Sturgeon and James H. Schmitz, a new tale of galactic intrigue and adventure.

Rikk Hoister is the first of new breed of cloned, paranormal geniuses, able to defeat the Imperial Navy with his mind alone, bound only by a rigid sense of ethics...

His cousin Yewanda is equally powerful, and also able to teleport herself anywhere. She's innocent, inexperienced...and just five years old.

When Yewanda sets out on her own to visit Rikk, the galaxy better watch out!

Remember when science fiction used to be filled with galactic intrigue and bigger-than-life heroes? The wonderful Don Sakers certainly does! The Eighth Succession is a rip-roaring yarn, impossible to put down. If John W. Campbell's Astounding Stories had been published in an LGBT-friendly era, this is the cover-story serial you'd have been waiting anxiously for each month. What a ride! 

--Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

The Eighth Succession is an exuberant novel, rich with intrigue, superheroes, super tech, and a galactic empire -- with something, in short, for every SF taste. Enjoy the ride.

-- Edward M. Lerner
   co-author of the Fleet of Worlds series

Don Sakers has written a fast-moving story that has almost everything you might want: galactic empires, political intrigue, comic relief, surprising plot twists, and -- most important -- a cast of characters who make us want to turn the page to learn more about them.  This is that rare story which doesn't overstay its welcome.  It leaves you hungry for more.

--- Daniel M. Kimmel, author of the Hugo-nominated Jar Jar Binks Must Die and Shh! It's a Secret

 

PostHeaderIcon Weaving the Web of Days

Weaving the Web of Days cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
The final battle of the Empress
Pages: 
120
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
4.55
Era (SWM only): 
4.550
Reading order: 
6
Intergalactic space opara
One-Paragraph Description: 

Maj Thovold has led the Galaxy for three decades, a Golden Age of peace and prosperity. She is weary and ready to resign, but two pieces of unfinished business remain. The first is her choice of a successor; the second, an old enemy that only she has the power to defeat...

Long Description: 

The Empress

Maj Thovold has led the Galaxy for three decades, a Golden Age of peace and prosperity. She is weary and ready to resign, but two pieces of unfinished business remain. The first is her choice of a successor; the second, an old enemy that only she has the power to defeat...if anyone can.

The Rebels

Once, Brin Lütken and Catherine Leonov were the unquestioned rulers of the galaxy. Then Maj Thovold came, and their power evaporated. For thirty years they have made their plans and laid their traps...and now it is time for the last battle, in the strangest battlefield known....

The Web

Tendrils stretch across lightyears, superconducting flashes of current; habitable regions hang suspended in the biospheres of newborn stars, with pockets of oxy-nitrogen and oxy-helium and water; apparently free-floating globules connect with the body of the Web by diamond threads, responding to light, heat, gravity, magnetism like colossal, fragile sensory organs -- and somewhere in the unexplored cubic parsecs of the Web are rumored huge lumps of tissue that resemble neural or circuit patterns, great brains the size of continents, dreaming their own visions incomprehensible to the maggots that crawl among their far-flung strands....


 

PostHeaderIcon Dance for the Ivory Madonna

Dance for the Ivory Madonna cover
Author/Editor: 
Don Sakers
The Book That Predicted Google Glass
Spectrum Award finalist 2003
Pages: 
460
Genre(s): 
Science Fiction
Genre(s): 
LGBT Interest
Series: 
Scattered Worlds
Series Order: 
3.75
Era (SWM only): 
3.750
Reading order: 
7
Near-future SF thriller (LGBTQ interest)
One-Paragraph Description: 

In 2042, a united Africa is a world power; the US is split into three nations; special interest groups have their own house in Congress; and the latest craze is RCSpex: cheap, lightweight data goggles that bring virtual reality to the masses, superimposed over everyday life.

Long Description: 

Eighteen years ago . . .

When Damien was eight, his father vanished - replaced by an impostor. The stranger stole his father's identity and murdered his mother, altering digital records to conceal the crime. Damien, finding that no adults believed him, fled to live with relatives.

Now . . .

Damien is an adult; an operative in a covert international organization, acting under the command of the legendary Ivory Madonna. He has the power, he has the support of his friends - and now it's time to avenge his father. And, if he can, to save the world in the process.

"Imagine a Stand on Zanzibar written by a left-wing Robert Heinlein, and infused with the most exciting possibilities of the new cyber-technology: Dance for the Ivory Madonna." -Melissa Scott, author of Dreaming Metal, The Jazz

Review: 

Library Journal says: "As a dual citizen of the United States and the new African nation of Umoja and a task leader for an international organization known as Nexus, Damien Nshogoza travels to the world's hot spots, addressing political and social disturbances as necessary. But Damien has another, more personal, agenda-to seek revenge against the impostor who replaced his father and murdered his mother. Set during the mid-21st century in a world ravaged by AIDS and myriad other problems, this latest work by Sakers (The Leaves of October) offers a vivid and plausible description of a near-future in which humanity's fate hinges on the deeds of a few pivotal individuals. For most sf collections."


 

Publisher's Weekly says: "In Don Sakers Dance for the Ivory Madonna, it's 2042, and the U.S. has split into three nations; special interest groups have their own House in Congress; artificial intelligence has kicked humans out of cyberspace; and the African continent, a hotbed of technological advancement, is united under a contract government called Umoja. Making his way through this brave new world is a young African-American operative of a secret organization whose task is to avenge his father's murder -- and save humankind."


 

Dance for the Ivory Madonna was the featured book in the March 2002 issue of SFRevu.com. There is also an interview with Don about the book. Take a look!


 

Science Fiction Chronicle says: "Don Sakers has here written something of a kitchen sink novel. In the not too distant future, America has split into three countries, and the government of what remains of the original nation has been dramatically changed. Africa has been ravaged by AIDS, and many of the former African nations have merged into one larger superstate. The protagonist is from this region, although he fled to the US following the murder of his father. Now he is an agent, working for the Ivory Madonna, an international manipulator with an elaborate spy network, and he's returning for revenge. Throw into the mix a variety of subplots involving a religious dictatorship, prejudice against gays, racial politics, etc., and you get a very large, occasionally disjointed novel that has pockets of really good stuff connected sometimes by less interesting transitional material. I'd give this one a mixed review because its ambitions sometimes surpass its reach, but Sakers certainly makes a good effort. -Science Fiction Chronicle, March 2002, p. 37


 

Wavelengths Online says: "Years ago, I was blown away by the originality of The Leaves of October, an underrated SF gem by Don Sakers. Its haunting lyricism left me craving more. Now, in his first novel since 1988, Sakers has provided an ample reward for my patience: Dance for the Ivory Madonna.

In this near-future scenario, Damien Nshogoza, a dual citizen of the U.S. and the new African nation of Umoja, helps to lead mankind through an international crisis under the direction of Miranda Maris, the legendary Ivory Madonna. His associate, Penylle Norton, is a young psi-gifted woman who aids him as an intermediary between the physical world and cyberspace where humans have just been evicted by artificial intelligence.

Damien also pursues a personal agenda in his attempt to expose Marc Hoister, a fanatical imposter who had murdered his mother and stolen his father's identity. As the various subplots are revealed, we are drawn into an intricate web of places and events and the abilities of a handful of people who have been fated to deal with them.

The reader is also informed of the myriad changes that occur over the first half of the 21st century: North America is divided into new nations, Africa becomes a technological leader, there is a new House in Congress dedicated to special interest groups, humanity is still ravaged by AIDS along with many new diseases, off-world colonies have been established on the moon and on Mars, cyberspace has been expanded to astounding proportions. Additionally, just about everyone views their immediate environment through RCSpex, an invention which transforms the mundane world into a fantasy-enhanced version of itself. Other scientific advancements and items of social and economic progress are constantly defined throughout the story by the employment of captivating newsreels, messages and statistics. Characterizations are quite diverse, especially the host of eccentric creative types who inhabit Maris Institute, the Ivory Madonna's secluded universe. These account for some of the book's better moments.

Damien, the African-American protagonist, navigates the uncharted regions of cyberspace as easily as he traverses the reorganized territories of a future world or the inner workings of a covert international organization called the Nexus. (Readers may recognize some more familiar associations, particularly one devoted to GLBT fandom!) In the pivotal character of Penylle we meet someone with conflicting loyalties and extraordinary powers. With the portrayal of the Ivory Madonna, the author excels at introducing the real woman behind the myth. She is especially endearing when she takes a gay youth named Jackie under her wing and smuggles him into Fort Shepard (yes, as in Matthew!) Spaceport near Laramie. His situation is handled quite sensitively; it is through Jackie's eyes that we obtain a glimpse of the true meaning of freedom.

It must have taken an enormous amount of research to provide this book with scientific and sociopolitical foundations for its credible and nicely delineated near-future setting. Fortunately, the author embellishes each premise by his deft balance of statistical elements with those of a more poetic, metaphysical nature. His AI's, for example, speak only in metaphors.

Yet, it is they who possess ultimate technological control of mankind's destiny. Depictions of their cyberspace domain are rendered through the imagery of fantastic landscapes, psi abilities, and human sensations. Much of this narrative is printed in alternating fonts and recounted using extensive flashbacks, techniques that require greater concentration than usual on the reader's part. But the compensation of suspenseful pacing and unpredictability make it well worth the effort.

Most impressive of all is the political conscience that permeates this book. Through its futuristic viewpoints, our current prejudices and tolerances are put into perspective; we are forced to confront their consequences. Furthermore, Sakers makes us question the ways that technology is transforming our lives, our dependence upon political and religious conventions, and the (mis)treatment of various races and social classes.

Despite the seriousness of such themes, the author utilizes his writing style and voice to prove that he is not devoid of levity. Particularly amusing is his method of replacing potentially objectionable words in his text. It is also not unusual for him to come up with humorous references to present-day culture by satirizing pop icons or creating parodies of familiar music and dance crazes. These and other contemporary allusions give this story that extra layer of verisimilitude. There were areas where the plausibility of certain situations within the chronology of the narrative's time span became questionable. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the innovative fashion in which the author pushed those boundaries.

Though it may not be unique that a writer possesses the skills to do this, it is certainly rare for one to have the courage to take such risks. Don Sakers does. Good speculative fiction should evoke a sense of wonder even as it entertains. Better writing of this type should resonate for the reader on a grand scale as well as on a purely personal level. Genre stories have more than the ability to attain these ends; they have the duty to give us the insight into the ultimate outcome of our current actions and policies, be they accomplishments or disasters. Dance for the Ivory Madonna achieves this quite beautifully."

Richard Mandrachio, Reviewer Wavelengths Online, Issue #6 April 2002 - July 2002


 

Excerpt: 

"RCSpex hit the market in February—cheap, lightweight data goggles that brought virtual reality to the masses, superimposed over everyday life. By year’s end, over a hundred million were seeing the world through rose-colored spectacles."

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