May 132016

Cover for Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. A flying car in the foreground heads towards a glittering city on a massive cliffside, the orange and pink sunset glowing in the background.Boing Boing: Too Like the Lightning, a book more intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall. […] Palmer writes science fiction like a historian, maneuvering vast historical forces deftly, plunging effortlessly into their minutae and detail, zooming out to dizzying heights to show how they all fit together. Her acknowledgements cite Alfred Bester as an influence, and that’s no surprise — few writers can trump Bester for the sense of a world that contains within it all the other worlds of all its inhabitants. Palmer, though, may have exceeded the master.

Too Like the Lightning manages to be several books at once: a serious philosophical treatise; a murder-mystery whose surprises buffet the reader like cold slaps out of nowhere that feel inevitable in hindsight; a piece of historical theory in narrative form; a thought-experiment about gender, nationality, identity and bigotry; and a gripping personal story whose players are likable, flawed, sexy, and sometimes terrifying.

If you read a debut novel this year, make it Too Like the Lightning.

Read Cory Doctorow’s full review of Too Like the Lightning at Boing Boing.