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Perhaps the Stars (Terra Ignota, 4) by Ada…
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Perhaps the Stars (Terra Ignota, 4) (edition 2022)

by Ada Palmer (Author)

Series: Terra Ignota (4)

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25110104,877 (4.16)16
"From the 2017 John W. Campbell Award Winner for Best Writer, Ada Palmer's Perhaps the Stars is the final book of the Hugo Award-shortlisted Terra Ignota series..."--
Member:pamar
Title:Perhaps the Stars (Terra Ignota, 4)
Authors:Ada Palmer (Author)
Info:Tor Trade (2022), 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer

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» See also 16 mentions

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The first book in this series was quite good, but they went slowly downhill, until this unreadable one ( )
  danielskatz | Dec 26, 2023 |
Several hours after finishing the book, I am overwhelmed and happy. Terra Ignota series is such an impressive literary achievement – ambitious, challenging, intricate.

Like all great sci-fi, Perhaps the Stars is a novel of both BIG IDEAS and characters that pierce your soul. I find it impossible to fit all my impressions into one review. But here are a few thoughts:

It is rare (in my experience, at least) that a book packed with philosophy, metaphysics, and ideas about the future of society and humanity is also emotionally exhausting. I had to take a break after nearly every chapter to take a few deep breaths or do something else for a while.
- The writing is consistently sublime.
- I loved how the Greek mythology, the Iliad and the Odyssey were integrated into the narrative.
- I loved 9A’s narrative voice (and 9A, of course).
- I have mixed feelings about the big reveal/the root of the conflict. While I was immersed in the book, it made sense. Now I find myself wondering why such a conflict would exist in the first place, the two goals should not negate each other, not in the future as Ada Palmer describes it. (Unless you are fanatic, of course…)
- The ending is beautiful! I went to a very happy place after finishing the last page. ( )
  Alexandra_book_life | Dec 15, 2023 |
I'm not really sure what to make of this last entry in the Terra Ignota quartet. Some parts were absolutely brilliant -- the way that war spirals out into tiny fractal battles with the motivation behind each becoming increasingly personal and complex. I loved the way that Palmer as a historian thinks about not just technological changes but how government, family structure and social mores will change in 500 years. As she reminds us, the American Experiment is not yet 500 years old and there's no reason to believe that 500 years in the future people will continue to idealize democracy and free speech, as dear as that is to us today.

I loved the tension between: do we do everything we can to dream of a better world, or do we work incrementally on this one? I thought that ultimately, after The Will To Battle being overly sympathetic to the Masonic Empire, Palmer in this book shows more of the nuance between these sides and ultimately the arc for the original Saneer-Weeksbooth bash and for Carlyle Foster are pretty satisfying.

But there's just too much in this book. There are three pieces that just don't really fit and I feel bad because I think they're really Palmer's favorite parts: The Homeric references, JEDD Mason and Mycroft. Each is central, but ultimately distracting. Perhaps the least clear complaint is Mycroft -- part of what made Terra Ignota stand out is a literally criminally insane, unreliable narrator, whose scandalous secret past is definitely scandalous. But by the third book, Mycroft's deification of JEDD Mason and commitment to the monarchy of the Masonic Empire was starting to really dilute the richness of the setting. Palmer's responded to this criticism by saying that it's just the lens of reading via Mycroft and that readers can read past him. But she had a rich opportunity to provide a foil for his narrative with 9A, and instead 9A too became a JEDD cultist. I think this is simply a theory of mind failure -- as the reader, I cannot completely see past an unreliable narrator to pick up clues from a highly complex setting from only seeing first person narration from said highly unreliable narrator. Also, Mycroft's schtick is that he really is an unforgiveable person and I think Palmer got wrapped up in her own creation and ultimately found him sympathetic in a way that I did not find deserved.

So complex world-building interesting philosophy futuristic homeric retelling morally complex unreliable narrator exploration of novel divinity = too many things to fit into a quartet ( )
1 vote settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
What a train wreck. Why did I finish this entire series? ( )
  dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |
This fourth book of Terra Ignota provides a conclusion worthy of what has come before. It is longer than any of the previous volumes by at least 50%, and it involves more narrative lacunae and changes of style. It does not resolve all of the enigmas raised in previous books, nor even those opened within its own pages, but it does complete the story and give it greater context and significance.

Terra Ignota has an unreliable and culpable narrator addressing himself to a posterity even further removed from the (actual) reader, but represented by a Reader character whose identity is in some measure disclosed at the end. It entertains metaphysics, and it vaults into the very highest political arenas of its imagined world. For these reasons and others, it has invited comparison to Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun, and Ada Palmer has admitted to her admiration for Wolfe's work. There is an especially Wolfean development in this final volume when the narrator A9 is retroactively revealed to have sacrificed their own life and physical substance for the resurrection of the earlier narrator Mycroft Canner. Poignantly, Wolfe died in 2019 as Palmer was finishing Perhaps the Stars, which has for a recurring theme the ways in which the death of a writer is neither the death of the author nor the death of the story.

I feel petty to notice it, but there is grammatical tic that recurs through all the volumes of Terra Ignota: the use of nominative pronouns where objective ones are called for in subordinate formulae at the tail end of sentences, like: "Who knew that such things could happen to we who had accomplished so much?" As I saw this oddness repeat, I grew to wonder whether it was Palmer or Canner who was to blame, and if the latter, what it could portend. It certainly seems wrong that the academically-accomplished writer of these books should have included such nonstandard English as mere error.

The scale and complexity of these books are impressive. They are still new, and I think that they will have staying power to gain in popularity and acclaim, like the Book of the New Sun and Herbert's Dune books. Attempts at scholarly criticism and substantial intellectual response began already after the release of the second book Seven Surrenders. I was not surprised to find out that there is a fan wiki to attempt to trace the sometimes bewildering details of character, place, and plot, but disappointed to discover that it is still sparsely populated.

I would advise prospective readers of Terra Ignota to view the four books as a single work and avoid setting it aside between volumes--perhaps especially between the third and fourth books where there was in fact a delay in publication. Do not skip past the fanciful-seeming publication conditions and dramatis personae front matter in each book. These supply important (p)reviews of the social structures, factions, stakes, and characters. If you've never read Homer, or if it's just been decades, consider reading an encyclopedia article for an overview of the Illiad and the Odyssey. Ditto for Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan, and perhaps Voltaire and Diderot to boot.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Mar 12, 2023 |
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Epigraph
"Brothers," I said, "who have braved a hundred
Thousand perils to reach these sunset lands,
Now that so little waking life remains us,
Do not deny yourselves the chance to reach
That world beyond the Sun, untouched by humankind."

—Dante, Inferno, XXVI 112–117
Dedication
Terra Ignota is dedicated to the first human who thought to hollow out a log to make a boat, and his or her successors.
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It was to be a short war.
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"From the 2017 John W. Campbell Award Winner for Best Writer, Ada Palmer's Perhaps the Stars is the final book of the Hugo Award-shortlisted Terra Ignota series..."--

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