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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Sister Alice

Copyright 2003 by Robert Reed

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this on the 10th June 2003.

In the distant future, humanity has spread out among the stars. However conflict, wars and devastation continue to plague our civilisations.

A desperate mankind have found a solution: from the great and good, the best of humanity, the most ethical and caring, a thousand individuals are chosen. These few are given the most advanced physical and mental enhancements. They are changed into superhuman demigods, granted long life and vast powers. Their role to nurture humanity, to shepherd it into a civilised future.

The solution was successful. Ten million years later, humanity flourishes peacefully under the careful oversight of the Families, the cloned descendents of these thousand guardians.

But now one of the first of the Family members, Sister Alice, reappears. She bears news of an awful crime committed by the Families and warns that the consequences of that crime will lead to universal devastation.

First off, it's not as good as "Marrow", but then that is currently No. 11 on the SF Reviews Best Books list. However, it is very good and may be better on a rereading.

This was originally published as five separate novellas in Asimov's SF magazine. I haven't read them, but would like to. However, I am very happy that Reed decided to make this very impressive novel.

Reed's writing can drift seamlessly from space opera into R. A. Lafferty's lyrical, magical realms. Can't say for sure, of course, since it's been so long since I read any Lafferty but that was my impression, and who am I to go against that? However, the novel is a fantastical mystery, a murder trial, a tale of deadly suspense and mystery.

There is a lot of headlong pursuit and a lot of throwing off clothes and possessions in order to lighten one's load. Let us not be in any doubt here, there really are vast quantities of pursuit, almost all of it headlong. Of course these aren't normal people like you and I chasing each other. These are demigods, stacked high with electronic augmentations, physical enhancements, brains the size of a planet, etc, so the pursuit is on something of a different level from just chasing after some guy that pinched your newspaper. But it is still pursuit, and headlong.

For all that it does go on a bit, it is still very exciting and very good indeed.

"Sister Alice" won the SF Reviews award for the Best Book Of 2003.

Loaded on the 1st August 2003.
Cover of Sister Alice
Cover art by Lee Gibbons

Reviews of other works by Robert Reed:
Black Milk
Down The Bright Way
The Well Of Stars

Reviews of other works with covers by Lee Gibbons:
Singularity Sky
Iron Sunrise
Stealing Light
Cosmonaut Keep
Engine City (The Engines of Light, Book 3)
Learning The World
Ringworld's Children
The Well Of Stars

Reviews of other works with covers by Lee Gibbons and The Pinpoint Design Company:
The Archivist