Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: Cassie Klyne, nineteen
years old, lives in the United States in the year 2015—but it’s not our
United States, and it’s not our 2015.
Cassie’s world has been at
peace since the Great Armistice of 1914. There was no World War II, no
Great Depression. Poverty is declining, prosperity is increasing
everywhere; social instability is rare. But Cassie knows the world isn’t
what it seems. Her parents were part of a group who gradually
discovered the awful truth: that for decades—back to the dawn of radio
communications—human progress has been interfered with, made more
peaceful and benign, by an extraterrestrial entity. That by interfering
with our communications, this entity has tweaked history in massive and
subtle ways. That humanity is, for purposes unknown, being farmed.
parents were killed for this knowledge, along with most of the other
members of their group. Since then, the survivors have scattered and
gone into hiding. Cassie and her younger brother Thomas now live with
her aunt Nerissa, who shares these dangerous secrets. Others live
nearby. For eight years they have attempted to lead unexceptional lives
in order to escape detection. The tactic has worked.
Until now. Because the killers are back. And they’re not human.
This book has been getting positive reviews in the scifi community, so I talked the book group into reading it. I've read a fair number of Wilson's works and more often than not, enjoyed them.
The basis of Burning Paradise explores the relationship between humanity and the radiosphere, where there exists an organism which is subtly tweaking and altering humanity's behavior. The Correspondence Society is the remnant of a group of people attacked by this 'organism' in 2007 when it became apparent to the organism that too many people were noting its existence. Now, members are being approached once again, but this time by 'parasites', who claim they have the same objectives as the Correspondence Society...but do they?
For myself, this had the feel of a 1950's or 60's science fiction book, where there is the feeling that We Are Not Alone, but only a select group of people have figured this out. We have a mixed group of hero's: four teenagers, a mechanic, two researchers, the head of the Correspondence Society - an eccentric rich man with deep pockets and deeper paranoia.
The first part of the story quickly drew me in, then it bogged down about halfway through as it became a series of info dumps. I thought the info dumps were overdone - I felt I had enough information from the first third of the book to understand what was going on, what the 'hypercolony' had done and was potentially doing. The story picked up in the last third of the book as everyone makes their way to the High Desert in South America for the almost frenetic and somewhat implausible conclusion.
Ultimately not my favorite Robert Charles Wilson book.
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