Read The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld Free Online
Book Title: The Risen Empire|
The author of the book: Scott Westerfeld
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.22 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.6
Date of issue: January 19th 2006
ISBN 13: 9781841493725
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(This book selected for review via poll )
The Risen Empire falls squarely within the wave of intelligent "space opera" (contrasting with old-fashioned Star Wars style science-fantasy and stuff-blowing-up military sci-fi) that has been around for the last 2-3 decades. (See for example the works of Iain M. Banks, Vernor Vinge, Alasdair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter etc.) Setting-wise it blends dystopian/cyberpunk themes (a corrupt and oppressive regime with a dark secret, destructive ideological conflicts, class divisions, artificial intelligence) with elements that wouldn't be out of place in pulpier, more old-fashioned space opera (undeath-like immortality, mind-reading, a soldier with near-bullet-time reflexes, forbidden romance) or hi-tech military sci-fi. These different elements are blended together in a way which (like the recent comics series Saga, the first volume of which I recently reviewed) avoids dissonance and promotes originality. For example, the titular Empire superficially seems like a traditional anachronistic space opera setting, drawing on elements of the Roman Empire. However, it breaks with a lot of the usual Feudalism In Space cliches, in particular lacking a titled nobility (the resurrected citizens form a privileged class, but not one that resembles traditional fantasy/historical nobles) and with a Senate that resembles modern-day democracies flavoured with advanced technology and clearly has more power than the Roman Senate did under the emperors.
I recall reading a blog post where the author makes this clear, stating that he wanted to write cool Star Wars-style space battles but with a more realistic and thoughtful take on the technology involved. On this front, the novel certainly delivers, presenting imaginative and well-thought-out technological ideas like microscopic remote-piloted drones, starships that separate into widely-spread components for battle, and artificial intelligence emerging from a planet's data network. However, the technology doesn't dominate the plot, which is very character-focused by space opera standards, dealing with the trauma and ambiguities of war and with understanding and romance across political divides and battle lines (again, like Saga), with an unusual and diverse cast of characters.
The characters, like the setting and technology, avoid traditional tropes or shift them into new forms. Thus, for example, the dashing, decorated starship captain suffers from terrible injuries and post-traumatic stress, the mind-reading character finds it more of a curse than a blessing, the genius character has a form of autism and is stuck as a menial worker, and the emergent artificial intelligence isn't homicidal or megalomaniacal. Crucially, the narrative finds a lot of time for moments of genuine human emotion and warmth among the politics, hi-tech excitement and explosions. This authenticity allows the book to get away with an overall quite idealistic, optimistic outlook that shines through and doesn't jar with the darker and more cynical elements.
This is a little-known general-audience book by well-known "young adult" author Scott Westerfeld. I rate some of Westerfeld's YA books very highly in that category, particularly the Uglies series, which is probably the best I've read out of the recent glut of dystopian fiction. However, I rate The Risen Empire as easily the best of Westerfeld's books, which may simply be down to my falling outside the YA demographic but may also be because Westerfeld's imagination is freed from the perceived or actual limitations of writing for a younger audience. It's disappointing that this great sci-fi work isn't better known and promoted among fans of his YA work, and that he seems (perhaps for financial reasons) to be focusing on writing new YA fiction rather than general-audience works like this (obviously this may not be disappointing to fans of his other work).
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Read information about the authorScott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.
He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.
His book Evolution's Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier's Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.
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