A Miracle of Rare Design


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 ...

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A Miracle of Rare Design

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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 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.

On the planet called Medina, Xavier William Lennox met with disaster. Lennox became fascinated by the secretive golden-skinned natives of Medina. But on his first visit, he was caught by a high priest while spying on a sacred ritual in a village forbidden to all aliens. Now, Lennox is determined to find out what the aliens want so much to hide.

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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.
Timothy Lane
A MIRACLE OF RARE DESIGN is a fine SF work of alien worlds with alien minds using alien senses. And if, in the end, Xavier Lennox is the most alien of them all, well...no matter.
Tom Easton
A MIRACLE OF RARE DESIGN: A TRAGEDY OF TRANSCENDENCE is a pithy parable of discontent...Resnick waxes more philosophical than he has before, except for the "Kirinyaga" stories. I suspect this one may conceal a comment or two about what Resnick's efforts to get into an alien head in those stories may have done to him.
George Lawskowski
Mike has gone beyond the usual good stories he writes, and has touched on something infinite. My sense of wonder was more than satisfied with this novel; I found myself in awe of the considerations of Man-ness, Alien-ness, what the future might bring that is wonderful and horrible, but ultimately fascinating. Mike's imaginaton has seen the miracles of the future, and he has shared them with us.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935738411
  • Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/2013
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Mike Resnick is the winner of 5 Hugos (from a record 34 nominations), plus a Nebula and other major awards in the USA, France, Spain, Poland, Croatia and Japan. He is the author of 62 novels, 250 short stories, and 2 screenplays, and is the editor of more than 40 anthologies. According to Locus, he is the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction, and if 4th on the all-time list when you add in his novels. His work has been translated into 26 languages. He will be the Guest of Honor at the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention.
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