A Miracle of Rare Design

Overview

On the planet Grotamana, called Medina by humans, Xavier William Lennox met with disaster. Lennox, a travel writer and adventurer, has become fascinated by the secretive golden-skinned natives of Medina, called Fireflies by the Human Republic. But on his first visit he was caught by the Fireflies' high priest while attempting to spy on a sacred ritual in a village forbidden to all foreigners. He was tortured and nearly killed before being left as a warning to other curious Men. Now Lennox is determined to find ...
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A Miracle of Rare Design

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Overview

On the planet Grotamana, called Medina by humans, Xavier William Lennox met with disaster. Lennox, a travel writer and adventurer, has become fascinated by the secretive golden-skinned natives of Medina, called Fireflies by the Human Republic. But on his first visit he was caught by the Fireflies' high priest while attempting to spy on a sacred ritual in a village forbidden to all foreigners. He was tortured and nearly killed before being left as a warning to other curious Men. Now Lennox is determined to find out what it is that the aliens want so much to hide. He will return to Medina, and this time he will attempt to discover their secrets from inside their culture, instead of outside. Lennox employs the latest medical breakthroughs to alter his body to resemble a Firefly. He immerses himself in the dialect of a city of Medina distant from the sacred village. He studies what is known of the Fireflies' culture and history, though that knowledge is dangerously limited. And then he arranges to be dropped back on Medina, in the wasteland between cities, to make his slow way toward the sacred village. If he survives the journey, he thinks he will have learned enough to safely pass the gates of the temple precincts.

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.
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: 9781935738428
  • Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press
  • Publication date: 7/19/2013
  • Pages: 196
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.45 (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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