I was challenged to get over my “mental block” about sci-fi (or whatever genre this is) and read this. After all, I’d loved her two Western books – Doc and Epitaph. For a while, I didn’t think I was really engaged in it. I was appreciating Russell’s skill with character, structure, and detail, but then two things happened.

First, when I was in the world of Rakhat in the book, someone interrupted me. I was not just surprised, but shocked; my mind rocketed back to earth. So that shattered any belief that I was reading this as an intellectual exercise. Still, I thought I knew what was coming. In fact, I began to be concerned that Russell hadn’t left herself enough pages to do the ending justice.

I was wrong. On both counts. The ending is absolutely devastating and perfectly handled. Everything makes sense and, as with the main character, nothing makes sense. I am still reeling.

Am I a sci-fi / speculative fiction / fantasy convert? No, but I may finally pick up a book my wife has been urging me to read for a while – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Mary Doria Russell’s website

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