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Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress

Steal Across the Sky

by Nancy Kress

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...In some ways Kress presents the bare bones of a novel here. John Clute calls it sober in his entry for Nancy Kress in the SF encyclopedia. That is a fitting description. In some respects it is a very well written piece. The style reminded me a bit of The Secret City by Carol Emshwiller I recently read. It is effective in the way it works what the reader needs to know to understand what is going on in the story. Many readers will prefer a novel with a little more meat on its bones though. I enjoyed it, but where I think many of Kress' shorter pieces are exceptional, this novel is merely very good. It is well worth reading but not the best Kress has to offer.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Oct 27, 2013 |
I didn't really intend to read Steal Across the Sky all in one evening, it just sort of happened. It's the first of my books for a challenge which I might or might not fully participate in, the Worlds Without End female writers challenge for 2013. I've meant to read Nancy Kress for ages, and I actually have Beggars in Spain somewhere to read, but on impulse I chose this one.

It's an interesting concept, or bundle of concepts: people are chosen to bear witness to the results of a crime committed by aliens long ago, and to take that knowledge back to the human race. But it's not a book about aliens -- we barely see the aliens -- it's a book about humans and how we might react, how things might change, if those Witnesses existed and came back with the news of what they saw.

Nancy Kress seems to be, from this at least, a good judge of what people are like. The whole range of responses is here, and a range of different personality-types to react to each other in all the ways people do, seeing things from different sides. My main quibble was that it felt very much like the narrative took a side in the whole debate, so I was very sure what the truth was. I would rather have wondered a little more, or even a lot more.

It's not so much about specific people and personal emotions, but about the central concept, and how it affects everyday people. There was enough personality there, though, to keep a character-orientated person like me reading. Once I'd picked this up, apart from a break to wash my hair, I read it more or less in one go -- it had me thinking, which is sometimes more important than feeling when it comes to books. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I nabbed this off of A, and was just going to read the end to see why the cover art had a naked person on a moon. Well, it sucked me in so I ended reading the whole thing that evening. The fact that it held my interest for an entireevening gave it kudos, and the philosophical questions it raises (ones that are different than many other sci-fi books) are ones that I can see myself discussing with others. ( )
  sriemann | Mar 29, 2013 |
I wonder how many people see the opening about aliens advertising on the internet, and pick up this book thinking it will be funny? It's not. It is very interesting, and parts of it are moving. Aliens show up, wanting to atone. They take volunteers to visit two other planets, where they will learn what the aliens need to atone for. It's difficult to talk about the book after that, without spoilers. There's mortality, loss, and politics.
  mulliner | May 22, 2011 |
The story is at times engaging, however, those that like full disclosure of plot should stay away.

The first part of the story is based on the exploration of two alien planets populated by humans settled there by aliens long ago. The focus here is the foreign cultures.

The second part deals with Earth and the fallout of the revelations revealed in the first part. Here the focus shifts to social commentary in a what-if situation as well as character exposition on about 5 different characters.

The ending does not provide answers to the plot-driving questions raised in the book. This would seem like a hook for a sequel, however the tone of the book merely implies that such uncertainty is not unexpected and basically "such is life, make do".

A mixed experience, but well written. ( )
  Seyen | Jan 11, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nancy Kressprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh;
Shadows of the evening
Steal across the sky.
-Sabine Baring-Gould
History . . . is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.
-Edward Gibbon
It ain't necessarily so.
-Ira Gershwin
For Marty,
King's pawn to King's pawn 4 . . .
First words
"Well," Cam said, rising on her toes and leaning toward the bridge's main screen, "there they are."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765319861, Hardcover)

The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the internet:

“We are an alien race you may call the Atoners. Ten thousand years ago we wronged humanity profoundly.  We cannot undo what has been done, but we wish humanity to understand it.  Therefore we request twenty-one volunteers to visit seven planets to Witness for us.  We will convey each volunteer there and back in complete safety.  Volunteers must speak English. Send requests for electronic applications to witness@Atoners.com."

At first, everyone thought it was a joke.  But it wasn’t.

This is the story of three of those volunteers, and what they found on Kular A and Kular B.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:06 -0400)

The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the internet. At first, everyone thought it was a joke. But it wasn't. This is the story of three volunteers who answered that ad, and what they found on Kular A and Kular B.

» see all 2 descriptions

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