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Gradisil is an epic space opera of family revenge and the birth of a nation.
Not very long from now, if you are wealthy, space can be yours, space to grow. New technology has seeded a rebirth of the pioneer spirit. A new breed of adventurer has slipped the bonds of gravity and begun a fresh life in orbit, free from interference by government, free from the petty concerns of earth.
Who wouldn’t want such freedom? Who wouldn’t want to escape from society’s tangles—from the claws of the corporations, from the stifling love of family?
But tradition, fear, and revenge carry a murderous weight, a gravity that is not so easy to escape. The death of Gradisil’s grandfather, floating high in the uplands above earth, was only the beginning. And now the US government is looking up at the new nation above our heads with jealous eyes.
Jack Glass is the murderer. We know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel tells the story of three murders committed by Glass the reader will be surprised to find out that it was Glass who was the killer and how he did it. And by the end of the book our sympathies for the killer are fully engaged.
Riffing on the tropes of crime fiction (the country house murder, the locked room mystery) and imbued with the feel of golden age SF, Jack Glass is another bravura performance from Roberts. Whatever games he plays with the genre, whatever questions he asks of the reader, Roberts never loses sight of the need to entertain and Jack Glass has some wonderfully gruesome moments, is built around three gripping HowDunnits and comes with liberal doses of sly humour.
Roberts invites us to have fun and tricks us into thinking about both crime and SF via a beautifully structured novel set in a society whose depiction challanges notions of crime, punishment, power and freedom. It is an extraordinary novel.
Russia, 1946. With the Nazis recently defeated, Stalin gathers half a dozen of the top Soviet science fiction authors in a dacha in the countryside. Convinced that the defeat of America is only a few years away—and equally convinced that the Soviet Union needs a massive external threat to hold it together—Stalin orders the writers to compose a massively detailed and highly believable story about an alien race poised to invade the earth. The little group of writers gets down to the task and spends months working until new orders come from Moscow to immediately halt the project. The scientists obey and live their lives until, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, the survivors gather again, because something strange has happened: the story they invented in 1946 is starting to come true.
After 37 years on a brutal and dangerous journey through space, a federation of settlers finally arrives on the planet Salt. Thus begins the colonization of this brave new world—a process that inevitably slips into a tragedy of biblical proportions. The two communities who undertook the voyage originally united in peace and a shared vision of a fresh beginning. Once isolated in a landscape of cruel majesty and minimal resources, however, ancient enmities begin to tear them apart. Related alternately by Petja, from the Alsist people, and Barlei (a Senaarian), their different voices, perspectives, and experiences come together to make an unusually rich and complex story about the fragility of life.