Stewards of the Flame

Stewards of the Flame

by Sylvia Engdahl

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details


Crime is considered illness, untreated illness is crime; ambulance crews are the only police. Dead bodies stay on "life support" forever. Can anyone gain freedom?

When burned-out starship captain Jesse Sanders is seized by a dictatorial medical regime and detained on the colony planet Undine, he has no idea that he is about to be plunged into a bewildering new life that will involve ordeals and joys beyond anything he has ever imagined, as well as the love of a woman with powers that seem superhuman. Still less does he suspect that he must soon take responsibility for the lives of people he has come to care about and the preservation of their hopes for the future of humankind.

Winner of a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards, this controversial novel deals with government-imposed health care, end-of-life issues, and the so-called paranormal powers of the human mind. Despite being set in the distant future on another world, it appeals not only to science fiction readers but to others who question the dominant medical philosophy of today's society, or who value personal freedom of choice.

This is the first book of the Hidden Flame series, and is followed by Promise of the Flame. They precede the Rising Flame series, consisting of Defender of the Flame and Herald of the Flame, which is a separate story set two centuries later that can be read alone. Unlike some of Sylvia Engdahl’s previous novels, these two series are not Young Adult books and are not appropriate for middle-school readers.

Please note: The cover of this book was changed in April 2015. It is not a new edition, as the book itself has not changed.

From the reviews:

"The story is compelling, and drew me in from the first few pages. . . . I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading genre fiction with some substance to it." --Blogcritics

"A suspenseful and thought-provoking novel that seems so plausible that it sends chills up my spine . . . truly a masterpiece of parapsychological science fiction." --Rebecca’s Reads

"A chilling look at what extreme socialized medicine could become in the hands of a dictatorial medical regime. . . Would make an excellent discussion topic for a book club."

"A brilliant twist on dystopianism. . . . The book builds just the right amount of tension, and shows the stark reality of benevolent tyranny, one that any so-called democracy could creep towards quite easily." --Prometheus

"Grips the attention with the raw immediacy of the problems. . . . It asks the sort of questions only SF can pose, and paints a vivid picture of where failing to answer those questions might lead. . . . Stewards is the kind of SF I've been craving!" --Jacqueline Lichtenberg (author of the Sime/Gen series)

"Stewards of the Flame is a brave book, and the numbers of those holding to the sentiments it conveys are growing. While the novel portrays extreme measures taken to prolong life to reductio ad absurdum lengths, it can't be faulted for challenging our comfort zone, when after all, that is one sure measure of worthwhile fiction." --ScifiDimensions

Product Details

BN ID: 2940000835142
Publisher: Ad Stellae Books
Publication date: 03/15/2010
Series: The Hidden Flame , #1
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 608 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sylvia Engdahl is the author of ten science fiction novels. She is best known for her traditionally-published Young Adult novels that are also enjoyed by adults. One of them, Enchantress from the Stars, was a Newbery Honor book, winner of the 2000 Phoenix Award of the Children's Literature Association, and a finalist for the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery category. Her Children of the Star trilogy, originally written for teens, was republished as adult SF. Recently she has been writing independently-published novels for adults, the Hidden Flame dulogy and the RIsing Flame duology. Although all her novels take place in the distant future on hypothetical worlds and thus are categorized as science fiction, they are character-driven and are directed more to mainstream readers than to avid science fiction fans. Engdahl is a strong advocate of space colonization and has maintained a widely-read space section of her website for many years. She has also recently issued an updated edition of her 1974 nonfiction book The Planet-Girded Suns: The History of Human Thought About Extrasolar Worlds, which is focused on original research in primary sources of the 17th through early 20th centuries. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Stewards of the Flame 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Right-wing  paranoid stuff disguised as SF.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know what criteria for that bronze medal this book won, but I definitely don't want to read the losers! The concet is interesting but the author did a poor job telling the story. This book needs some serious rewrites to tighten up the story. It's 1000 pages that would only be about 600 if all the boring, pointless dialog were cut. A whole chapter when two paragraphs covered all. I gave up around page 200.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a thinly diguised propaganda piece against much of modern medicine. The storyline has great potential but was seriously damaged by the authors health care opinions. I stuck it out for over three hundred pages but just got tired of the preaching.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall, Very interesting plot and ideas, but i feel it could have been written alot better. Also, around half way through i kept getting a bit bored. Not bad at all for a free book though. 1000+ pages, also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea for this book is interesting but overall it was way too preachy. The beginning and the end were not too bad but it took a lot to stick with it in the middle. Too much about the psi powers all of the time. Oddly though I may actually purchase the sequel just to see what happens to them. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
Undine is a planet not so very different from our own. People care about their health. Like us, they endeavor to extend the natural human lifespan by curing all types of disease (including mental and social illnesses). Undine has just taken the initiative to insure universal good health and long life. Free health care, the annihilation of all forms of disease, virtual immortality, Undine might seem like a perfect world. However, Jesse Sanders, a starship captain, quickly finds out the hard way that looks can be deceiving. Jesse is arrested for alcoholism after having a few drinks while on leave. Part of his treatment involves extreme aversion therapy. Fortunately, he¿s one of the lucky ones, a secret faction of those who appose the government¿s methods rescues him and bring him into their group. Stewards of the Flame combines contemporary concerns about health, social issues, and privacy with science fiction and parapsychology to create a powerful story. Are we really headed towards a world like Undine? Are there better alternatives to medications and suspended animation? Both the questions and the potential answers are fascinating.
infiniteletters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first part of the book was rather slow, but the second part definitely sucked me in, as I saw more reasons to care about the characters and their medical plight. Testing character is important, as in most of her books. She focuses on nature and freedom in lieu of bureaucracy and confinement.
csayban on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fleet Captain Jesse Saunders wakes up in a hospital without any memory of how or why he is there. So begins Sylvia Engdahl¿s science fiction novel, Stewards of the Flame, centered on a small colony world where everyone is wealthy and healthy¿or else. Jesse quickly learns that the medical community on this planet is the only authority, acting as both judge and jury in the lives of everyone. Crimes and illness are considered one in the same and they are very aggressively diagnosed and treated with mind-altering drugs. Even death is illegal. Bodies are kept alive in stasis forever by a society that believes the body is the essence of existence. However, not everyone agrees, and Jesse¿s new friends ¿ Peter and Carla ¿ have dedicated themselves to creating a much different kind of life for their covert dissident group. When his new companions manage to engineer his `legal¿ escape, Jesse is confronted with a life both frightening and intriguing ¿ a life where the human mind¿s potential is revealed and relationships he has never experienced become possible. However, the future is uncertain, as discovery of any one member of the group could mean a certain end for them all.The book begins well, building tension and providing plenty of twist and turns as Jesse tries to understand what is going on around him and who he can trust. When he becomes free of the Meds ¿ Jesse begins to learn about the powers of his mind and the abilities of the people he has quickly come to trust, even while he recognizes that they are keeping something from him. This is where this clipper of a story ¿ which had been zipping right along ¿ suddenly lost all its wind and parked in the doldrums. The nature of the story required a certain amount of setup along the way, but the dialog felt like I was reading a transcript of a graduate school parapsychology class ¿ for 300 hundred pages! It became a long-winded, back-and-forth conversation that laid out everything you could have ever wanted to know about what the mind may or may not be capable of. If there was anything left for the reader to figure out themselves, I don¿t know what it could have been. In the meantime, the plot languished. Even as the action picked up in the final scenes of the story, it still took a backseat to the ongoing moral and theoretical conversations of the characters. However, the story is not all bad. Engdahl¿s writing is simple and engaging. The characters are well developed and the romance between Jesse and Carla feels real and is quite well done. Also, the question of when medical decision-making should belong to the patient or to the state makes for an interesting and timely debate. Unfortunately, the story itself offers little tension and the ending is predictable long before the last page. If you have a keen interest in parapsychology and medical ethics, you may find this an interesting addition to the discussion. But if you are looking for an engaging story from beginning to end, you will probably be disappointed.
lg4154 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First and foremost, I am not a fan of science fiction. Those who like that genre will love this book. I found it long-winded and it did not capture my interests. It took everything in me just to read it. I don't mean to be a stick in the mud about it & I know everybody else loved it, not me!
Caillech on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sylvia Engdahl's "Stewards of the Flame" is an incredible mutli-dimensional tale which nothing I read with respect to the book had prepared me for. My expectation for entertainment was so far surpassed that I'm still reeling from the vortex.The thought provoking complexity of the story would have been more than enough to earn my respect, but the spine tingling, hair raising terror of the ideas, especially when some of the concepts are really not that far from reality, leaves me seriously horrified about the implications of what fanatical health consciousness could lead to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not keep my interests. The characters seemed immature.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
He learns he has been sedated for three nights as his doctor says he cannot leave until he is detoxed. If he fails to depart on time with his vessel he will be classified as AWOL and stuck on this backwater orb for life. Worse as he complains they label him hostile and in need of Aversion Therapy. That means special treatment without his consent needed to include visits to Psych. His Starship Fleet career is dead as the health system imprisonment gets worse until he meets a group who believes in the illegal right to die. These STEWARDS OF THE FLAME enables him to escape to an island hideaway where he learns to use much more of his mind¿s powers to ignore pain and to telepathically communicate. --- The premise behind this novel is that Big Brother monitors an individual¿s mental and physical health in order to ¿take care¿ of the person in accordance with laws even if a competent person rejects such treatment. That hypothesis is grounded in current efforts to make the medical field more efficient and effective it is not a stretch to expand the electronically documented military health records of soldiers or the President¿s push for electronic transferable medical records to become the basis of required treatments. When the STEWARDS OF THE FLAME moves into more esoteric new age elements the story line remains extremely entertaining mostly because of the hero, but loses some of its social commentary. Still Sylvia Engdahl provides her readers with a cautionary tale that Big Brother is coming through the government medical complex. --- Harriet Klausner
LesaMari More than 1 year ago
The story line of this book was unlike anything I have ever read. It was a slow start but once I got into it, it kept my attention. I recommend it to those that are into scifi books. Stick with it and pay attention so you can follow characters.
LindaDLD More than 1 year ago
Tended to drag a little but all in all a good read...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome kept me on the of my chair