Out of print since 1985, these three classic novels form a trilogy that chronicles the history of an alternate human race, the Ler, from their origins as a bioengineered “superhuman” race on Earth to their complex civilizations in space. Together, the books form a challenging examination of what it means to be human.
A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.When Rin aced the Keju — the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies — it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard — the most elite military school in Nikan — was even more surprising.But surprises aren’t always good.Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power — an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive — and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away …Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity … and that it may already be too late.
The most stimulating challenge that has come to science fiction writers recently has been the question of whether it is time for a change. The advocates of what is called the New Wave say yes. They insist that the “old” science fiction belongs to the past, is stereotyped, and no longer represents the whirl of modern times, the revolution of new thinking and the mind-tingling innovations that seem to be prevalent in all the arts these days.
The New Wave in SF – they prefer to call it Speculative Fiction – has its roots among the imaginative writers of England, most specifically around the magazine New Worlds, and a great deal has been coming from that source that is indeed different and surprising. Judith Merril, an acknowledged authority on science fiction, has made herself the foremost American defender of the New Wave, and in this book ENGLANDSWINGSSF she has produced an anthology and a running, sparkling dialogue between its contributors and its editor on what they are doing to SF in England and why they are doing it.
Are the New Wave advocates correct? Is it indeed time for new forms and new approaches to imaginative speculative fiction? Has science fiction as we have known it really become moribund?
Here is the book which may be the turning point of that New Wave. Ace Books presents it because it is a work, a manifesto perhaps in the form of a group of most unusual SF stories, which everyone interested in science fiction ought to read. It will be a stimulating experience, whether you agree with Miss Merril or not.
Ace Books, long the foremost publisher of science fiction in America, does not take any stand on this controversy. We have published and will continue to publish the best obtainable in all types of writing, from space-action adventures to the award-winning Specials, from the old “classics” to the best of the new collections of short stories. We reprint ENGLANDSWINGSSF not because we are in agreement or in disagreement with it, but because we think it is part of Ace’s traditional service to science fiction.
Two quotes may be apropos. Josephine Saxton says, inside the book, “British writers are in the vanguard – one thing they do is make much American S.F. look old-fashioned.”
Isaac Asimov said, outside the book, “I hope that when the New Wave has deposited its froth and receded, the vast and solid shore of science fiction will appear once more.”
Decide for yourself.
Luminescent Threads celebrates Octavia E. Butler, a pioneer of the Science Fiction genre who paved the way for future African American writers and other writers of colour.
Original essays and letters sourced and curated for this collection explore Butler’s depiction of power relationships, her complex treatment of race and identity, and her impact on feminism and women in Science Fiction.
Follow the luminescent threads that connect Octavia E. Butler and her body of work to the many readers and writers who have found inspiration in her words, and the complex universes she created.