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A Miracle of Rare Design
     

A Miracle of Rare Design

by Mike Resnick
 

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How far would you go to unlock the mysteries of an alien culture?

Journalist and adventurer Xavier William Lennox becomes obsessed with the rituals of the Fireflies, an alien culture of gold-skinned inhabitants living on the planet Medina. When he gets too close to their mysterious society, he's captured, tortured, and banished for defying their laws, but vows to

Overview

How far would you go to unlock the mysteries of an alien culture?

Journalist and adventurer Xavier William Lennox becomes obsessed with the rituals of the Fireflies, an alien culture of gold-skinned inhabitants living on the planet Medina. When he gets too close to their mysterious society, he's captured, tortured, and banished for defying their laws, but vows to learn what the aliens are so desperate to hide, even if it means becoming one of them.

His curiosity doesn't end there. As opportunities arise to study more alien races, Lennox takes cultural immersion to the breaking point. He not only buries himself in the language and customs of the aliens, but also undergoes severe surgeries to become one of them. Each time his humanity is stretched until he faces his biggest challenge-trying to return to the ordinary life of a man who has experienced the universe in ways he was never meant to.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Resnick's Kirinyaga saga polarized readers, who generally found the author's obsessions with African cultures either racist or fascinating. By contrast, this new novel, disappointing despite its clever main conceit, likely will leave most readers indifferent as Resnick moves his focus away from an identifiable subtechnological culture and toward a series of alien worlds. When, in order to observe a forbidden temple ritual, Xavier William Lennox disguises himself as a ``Firefly'' (a member of an alien species that, though vaguely humanoid, has wings and skin that takes on a nocturnal glow), he is discovered, hideously mutilated and swiftly handed back to his own society. Since Lennox is an ``exceptionally willful, stubborn, self-centered man,'' however, when he is offered the opportunity to undergo painful surgery that will reconstruct his body in the image of a Firefly's, in order to become an ambassador to and spy against the aliens, he returns to their planet of Medina. But the conclusion of this particular mission finds Lennox suffering from severe depression, so he allows his body to be reshaped for further missions in increasingly outlandish ways until he gradually sheds his humanity along with his appendages. Resnick's greatest strength has always been his ability to create vivid and imaginative cultures, but here he spends so little time in each of his worlds that they, like his alien Fireflies, seem to flicker only momentarily before fading away. (Dec.)
Library Journal
As a scholar/adventurer obsessed with immersing himself in alien cultures, Xavier William Lennox seems ideal for a "first contact" mission designed to acquire valuable mineral rights from the natives of the planet Medina. Biologically altered to mimic a firefly-similar in appearance to this world's indigenous inhabitants-Lennox succeeds a little too well in his mission as he becomes addicted to the thrill of acquiring supra-human perceptions and abilities. Although opening up alien worlds to human exploitation is a recurring theme in Resnick's novels (e.g., Inferno, LJ 10/15/93), seldom does he focus so intently on the personal cost to the individuals involved. At once a compelling sf adventure and a study of humanity's greed for knowledge, this title is recommended for most sf collections.
Carl Hays
Resnick's latest novel continues his ongoing series of futuristic fables that chronicle the often disastrous consequences of mankind's attempt to colonize and introduce alien worlds into its own galaxywide Republic. Here, the Republic's representative is Xavier William Lennox, a compulsive interstellar traveler whose perilous adventures he recounts in best-selling memoirs. After one alien species maims and leaves him for dead, Lennox agrees to undergo several operations that transform him into one of the same species of aliens he's investigating. Now, with the advantage of alien communication abilities, Lennox can, of course, serve the Republic's mission of absorbing new worlds. As Lennox explores the wonders of alien experience and understanding firsthand, however, he becomes less and less willing to return to human form. Resnick's narrative ploy of basic, nuts-and-bolts sf minus the high-tech glitz leaves room for absorbing exploration of extraterrestrial culture and its clash with humanity. This one's insightful as well as entertaining.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935738411
Publisher:
Raw Dog Screaming Press
Publication date:
07/19/2013
Pages:
196
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author

Mike Resnick (1942) is an American science fiction author. He has the distinction of being nominated for 37 Hugo Awards, mostly in the category of "short stories", more than any other author. He was also executive editor of the online science fiction magazine Jim Baen's Universe. He is the father of award winning science fiction author Laura Resnick.

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