Grail by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's all light.
I liked this one much better than the previous two novels, full of better contrast, deeper ethical considerations, and more interesting intrigue. Mind you, this is all subject to my own subjectivity, but It was much easier to fall into a society of dull board members and sit back confidently as they get pounded ideologically by a godlike feudalist ecology, and back again as they said, "Uh, no thanks, I think we'd best stay on Prozac."
It's funny and delightful, with some real promise of cohabitation except for that one little bit of sophistry that would bring all hope to the brink. You know how people are when they know they're right.
Still, I enjoyed the deeper conversation with the reader about being alien, as with the second book, forward to the uncontemplated reality of colonizing a planet that already housed another intelligence, successfully putting our heroes and heroines on the moral high ground, as opposed to in the moral high ground.
The ending was satisfying and I can honestly say I'm glad I got through the trilogy. The compromise surprised me, somewhat, but it was a logical concession. The trend of the novels supported it, even if it wasn't what anyone really wanted.
In that regard, at least, the novel felt real, and that's a treat when we deal with nanoswarms, a near godhood over a closed system, lots of near resurrections, and unhinged enemies rewriting other's brains.
Fun stuff. I'm glad I read it.
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