Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Two-fer

With the possession of an e-reader I am now able to access works that are only available in electronic format. A number of authors tend to publish novellas as ebooks when they are not planned for paper release. On a recent trip I left my physical books behind and instead packed only my Nook. For that trip, I loaded up a number of novellas and today I wanted to share two that I really enjoyed from one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson.

In Sixth of the Dusk Sanderson has created a fully developed world whose sights and sounds and smells filled my imagination. He was able in short order to pull me in completely. The setting is an isolated archipelago. On the seemingly unapproachable Patji, a trapper has laid claim to serve the god that inhabits the island. Dusk is a young man whose life is steeped in tradition, one that leads him to show great respect to nature and her power. Over many years and many adventures, he has come to understand a great secret of his secluded home. The birds of Patji are born with special gifts that bestow powers to the humans that bond with them. To Dusk's horror, a company has come onto his pristine island with their destruction, their steel, their noise, all with the purpose of claiming every last magical bird. Dusk has no clue how to protect Patji from the encroachment, when he finds the young lady Vahti of the outsiders has stumbled into his camp. Headstrong and sure of herself, he must convince her of what is at stake.

In Perfect State, we find a story that in some ways is quite derivative. It has some central elements in common with The Matrix. Humanity is controlled by some external force that keeps them in stasis, existing only within dream worlds in which they fulfill a role that has been prepared for them by their keepers. In the statis there are only very few humans. In fact, nearly all of the people are programmed beings. The actual humans turn out to be the leaders of their different worlds. When they have solved all of the problems or trials laid out for them, new conflicts are allowed. In time, these "liveborns" are brought into direct conflict with each other. In this story, Kai, the leader of a medieval kingdom of sorts spends most of his time trying to manage his kingdom and deal with the attacks of his nemesis, a liveborn named Melhi. One day Kai receives word from the keepers that he must chose another liveborn with which to mate. These instructions cannot be ignored as this process is necessary to create other new liveborns to insert into the system. Kai despises the role he is forced into and those who control him. In frustration he chooses the woman on the list who he is least compatible with. Sophie ultimately breaks his heart and twists his mind.