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Hellspark by Janet Kagan
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Hellspark (original 1988; edition 1988)

by Janet Kagan

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337632,652 (4.53)25
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Title:Hellspark
Authors:Janet Kagan
Info:New York, NY, U.S.A. Tor Books (1988), Hardcover
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Hellspark by Janet Kagan (1988)

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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Wonderful as usual. I've read and reread this, in both editions (the original, and this one where Kagan was allowed to correct some things she noticed after the original was printed). Small things - the casual use of spectacles and 2nd skin, which are VR and wearables in their finished form. Bigger things - Maggy's existence and development. And the real story of the book - not the focus, exactly, but why the main story can happen - the interaction of the multiple human cultures, and how they mix and clash. I love that each of the cultures is "based" on a simple, English, phrase or thought or (American, mostly) habit - the term "my foot" for disbelief flowers here into a culture where feet are taboo areas, and one character swears by saying "Foot. Heel! Toe! Toenails, with green toenail polish!" The characters are very real - (as they keep saying) their cultures inform them, but do not define them. The main character, Tocohl Susumo, is a translator/polyglot, from a culture focused on that - on speaking the language, including the body language, of every human culture. She comes to an expedition exploring a new planet, that have found a non-human race which may or may not be sentient. The puzzle of the new race gets tangled with the clashes between the cultures of the various humans on the expedition, and Tocohl's presence both helps and exacerbates this. It's an utterly fantastic universe, and I really wish she'd been able to write (and publish) more here - I want to know more about Hellsparks! But rereading this book remains rewarding - every time I read it, I find something else I've missed, or something I forgot about that I noticed in an earlier reading. Wonderful book, and I will doubtless reread it many more times. I own three (four) copies - two of the original, one of the edited version (this one), and an ebook that most closely matches the edited (Meisha Merlin) version. The spare original is for lending out! ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Oct 8, 2016 |
Finally, an author who pays proper attention to communication! Unlike Star Trek or any of the other sf that uses a "universal translator," Hellspark makes great use of the importance of body language, personal space, and other unmentionable things that no one ever thinks about when conversing with aliens. A great deal of this novel is taken up with emphasizing the differences between various cultures, while at the same time asking, "so with all these differences...what exactly defines us as sentient?" Very good, although again, I felt it fell apart a little by the end and moreover, didn't identify with the characters that much. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
To read, On loan from Dario
  Kasi224 | Sep 20, 2015 |
I enjoyed this incredible ride of a story. Set in a future world and space, with most of the time spent on an alien planet with different biology and social animals, the story was about how we communicate.

The strongest theme and and storyline is about how language divides us and bridges gaps between us. This aspect of the book is fascinating to me.

This has one of the most impressive heroines in fiction. Her preferred approach to hostility is to prevent a fight with words and cultural knowledge. That is what I'm talking about. I believe the most powerful weapon humans have is language, this author wrote about that idea.

We live the story with the characters. There is a naive narrator, who contributes to us learning through her questions.

One of my favorite reads of all time. If you like hard science fiction and like to think during your reads, this is a book for you. ( )
  SAGibson | Mar 11, 2015 |
On page 51 so far. It is fascinating to read so much attention to how language divides us and bridges gaps between us.

On page 120. I am loving this book way too much. Oh my goodness, preventing a fight with words and cultural knowledge. That is what I'm talking about. I believe the most powerful weapon humans have is language, this author is acting on that idea.

I don't want it to end! I am intentionally reading slowly. And there is a naive narrator, how great is that. I love it because I learn through her questions. ( )
  superant | Sep 3, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Janet Kaganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Murphy, KevinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seltzer, NeilCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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South of base camp, a daisy-clipper skimmed through the flashwood, buffeting the undergrowth into a brilliant display of light.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0965834522, Paperback)

Murder, Mystery, and Interstellar Intrigue! Hugo Award winner Janet Kagan's Hellspark is now back in print! Lassti, a newly discovered planet, is the center of political intrigue. Recently, Oloitokitok, the planet survey team's physicist was found dead. Was he killed? If so, by who? One of his fellow surveyors? Or by one of the Sprookjes, the birdlike natives of Lassti? Are the Sprookjes intelligent? If so, then parties that want the planet for development will lose it. Why is the survey team having so much trouble finding out? Into this situation arrives Tocohl, a Hellspark trader who just wanted to have a vacation on Sheveschke at the St. Veschke festival. After being attacked, rescuing a young woman, and going before a judge, Tocohl has learned all she ever wanted to know about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she is on her way to find Lasti to find answers to the mysteries there.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:54 -0400)

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