Being Useful is Your Punishment — Revealing Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets.

Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

That’s when things get weird.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

This is how Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer’s debut novel, begins! And while we must admit that Bridger sounds a little bit like Trumpy from that one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the rest of the story sounds terrifying. Palmer’s future sounds like it gives us a lot. It also sounds like it does a great job of obscuring all that it takes away.

Too Like the Lightning is the first book of Palmer’s political sci-fi Terra Ignota series and arrives on May 10, 2016. Pre-order it here and check out the cover by artist Victor Mosquera!

Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer cover

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