by James Patrick Kelly
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Pub Date 01 Jun 2018 | Archive Date 29 May 2018
Tachyon Publications, Particle Books
Nebula Award Winner
Hugo Award Nominee
“Burn is James Patrick Kelly at
his best, and there’s nothing better.”
—Connie Willis, author of Doomsday Book
The tiny planet Morobe’s Pea has been sold and renamed Walden. The new owner has some interesting ideas. Voluntary simplicity will rule in the Transcendent State; Walden is destined to become a paradise covered in lush new forests.
But even believers find temptations in the black markets; non-believers are willing to defend their ideals with fire. Walden’s only hope may lie with a third option: a very unlikely alien intervention.
In Burn, James Patrick Kelly (Think Like a Dinosaur) delivers an innovative, entertaining, and morally-complex vision of the perils of idealism.
A Note From the Publisher
“A powerful cocktail of the strange
and the hauntingly familiar”
“James Patrick Kelly is one of the masters of science fiction. He imagines
futures both high-tech and human, both dizzyingly complicated and determinedly
simple, and then sends us to Walden, where simplicity is anything but, and even
Henry David Thoreau begins to look disturbingly different. Burn is
inventive, moving, and involving. It’s James Patrick Kelly at his best, and
there’s nothing better.”
“With his immaculate prose and perfect structural tricks, Kelly’s book
offers a richly satisfying blend of adventure and philosophy.”
—SciFi.com (Grade: A)
“Hugo-winner Kelly (‘Think like a
Dinosaur’) mixes hard-edged extrapolation with messy human issues in this
thought-provoking SF novel. The inhabitants of Transcendent State, a colony of
‘true humans,’ have rejected advanced technology for lives of voluntary
simplicity on a world renamed Walden. They are threatened by the pukpuk,
survivors of a previous settlement who seek to stop plans to cover the planet
with healthy, dense forest by setting fires in the wilderness. Now even
Walden’s citizens are beginning to question their charter’s tenets of
simplicity, secretly trading produce and handmade goods for pukpuk tech through
a thriving black market. The spark that will ignite Walden’s final conflict
comes from one of its own, firefighter Prosper ‘Spur’ Leung, when he
unwittingly contacts the High Gregory of Kenning, ruler of a distant world. ‘I
make luck,’ the High Gregory says, turning Spur’s commitment to Walden’s (and
Thoreau’s) philosophy of self-reliance and the primacy of nature upside down.
Kelly’s many-layered story pivots on a set of paradoxes, asking questions about
the difference between innocence and willful ignorance, responsibility and
balance, and the true essence of nature.”
“Bored while recovering from
burns received in the line of duty, fruit farmer turned fireman Spur decides to
contact similarly named people throughout the Thousand Worlds. He reaches a boy
on a throne, who says he makes luck and becomes very interested in Spur’s
world, the small planet Walden, designated a simple-living utopia by the
wealthy man who bought it from its mother planet. A few days later, homeward
bound from the hospital, a hover stops the train to take Spur aboard. On the
aircraft are the boy, a gaggle of other children from other worlds, and their
superintendent. The kids are all extraordinary and, as it happens, intent on
resolving the warfare on Walden, which consists of the pre-utopian inhabitants
setting forest fires to resist the forestation of all the land the Waldenites
don’t farm. Besides its fireman hero (a reversal of Montag in Fahrenheit 451) and
its would-be-utopian setting, the warm humanity and rural sympathies of this
affectionate, winsome short novel will make many recall Ray Bradbury at his