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The Galaxy Game
Cover of The Galaxy Game
The Galaxy Game
A Novel
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Karen Lord is one of today's most brilliant young talents. Her science fiction, like that of predecessors Ursula K. Le Guin and China...
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Karen Lord is one of today's most brilliant young talents. Her science fiction, like that of predecessors Ursula K. Le Guin and China...
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Description-

  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR • Karen Lord is one of today's most brilliant young talents. Her science fiction, like that of predecessors Ursula K. Le Guin and China Miéville, combines star-spanning plots, deeply felt characters, and incisive social commentary. With The Galaxy Game, Lord presents a gripping adventure that showcases her dazzling imagination as never before.

    On the verge of adulthood, Rafi attends the Lyceum, a school for the psionically gifted. Rafi possesses mental abilities that might benefit people . . . or control them. Some wish to help Rafi wield his powers responsibly; others see him as a threat to be contained. Rafi's only freedom at the Lyceum is Wallrunning: a game of speed and agility played on vast vertical surfaces riddled with variable gravity fields.

    Serendipity and Ntenman are also students at the Lyceum, but unlike Rafi they come from communities where such abilities are valued. Serendipity finds the Lyceum as much a prison as a school, and she yearns for a meaningful life beyond its gates. Ntenman, with his quick tongue, quicker mind, and a willingness to bend if not break the rules, has no problem fitting in. But he too has his reasons for wanting to escape.

    Now the three friends are about to experience a moment of violent change as seething tensions between rival star-faring civilizations come to a head. For Serendipity, it will challenge her ideas of community and self. For Ntenman, it will open new opportunities and new dangers. And for Rafi, given a chance to train with some of the best Wallrunners in the galaxy, it will lead to the discovery that there is more to Wallrunning than he ever suspected . . . and more to himself than he ever dreamed.
    Praise for The Galaxy Game

    "There is a weight and grace to [Lord's] prose that put me in mind of pewter jewelry."—NPR

    "This novel is a satisfying exercise in being off-balance, a visceral lesson in how to fall forward and catch yourself in an amazing new place."The Seattle Times

    "A smart science fictional fable as inventive and involving as it is finally vital."Tordotcom

Excerpts-

  • Chapter One

    It was that hour of the game when sweat and blood began to rub together, skin sliding on skin, smudging the marks of allegiance and territory and leaving only the grav-­band colors to identify the two teams. The audience was global, and the cacophony shocking. Every drop and pull and sink was cursed and celebrated. A mosaic composed of myriad images of frenzied supporters enveloped the Wall in a hemisphere of seething color. Players would occasionally look outward into that mad, tilted sky and add their voices in shouts of triumph or fury, but for the most part they saved their breath for speed.

    Adrenaline spiked high in players and spectators alike, pushed by the high risk and higher stakes. This was the best part. It was ruined by unfriendly white light flooding the room and washing out the rich, broad holo projection of seventeen carefully coordinated school slates. Cries of dismay rose up, and as quickly died down again at the sight of the schoolmaster standing in the doorway with a tired expression on his face.

    "Boys, you are loud. Go to sleep. You will find out the score in the morning. Caps on, Riley, Kim, and Dee. Caps straight, Pareti and Sajanettan. Put away those slates. Let all be in proper order before I leave this place. You--­Abowen, Abyowan, however your name's pronounced. Aren't you the new Saturday boy?"

    The master's voice was a marvel. It started at a resentful mutter, swelled to stern command, and concluded with a sharp, querying snarl directed at a student who was standing casually at the edge of the room. The boy looked as if he had been hoping--­no, expecting-- to be overlooked. The sudden question startled him badly.

    "Yes, but . . . it's Friday." Now he looked bewildered.

    "Not anymore; it's midnight. You know who I am, don't you? My sister teaches you Telecoms and Transfers."

    "Of course I know," the boy replied, oddly offended. "I'm not that new."

    The master's expression turned suspiciously mild. "Barely a year, big school, high staff turnover with some teachers you know of but never see face-­to-­face--­it wouldn't be surprising if you didn't know the connection. My office, east wing, nine tomorrow morning."

    The room had settled down. Leaving the Saturday boy to worry whether the appointment was for work or punishment, the master scanned the dormitory and, finding it relatively neat and its denizens subdued, gave a brief, approving nod.

    "Lights out," he said, closed the door, and set off without a backward look. The slow fade would give them all plenty of time to get into bed.

    He jogged down the corridor with as much haste and dignity as could be managed on too many sedentary years and a creaky ankle. "Loud," he grumbled to himself. "Pestilential interference is the problem. A seventeen-­slate array! Selfish, unthinking poppets!"

    The lift tower at the corner of east and south was illuminated solely by the starlight from its long, narrow windows, but he stepped onto the lift pad with the sixth sense of familiarity and gave it a solid stamp. It carried him up to the second level as he muttered, this time with a touch of admiration, "Enterprising little moujins. Galia will be proud."

    Their lodgings were at the opposite end of the wing from his office. He had insisted. Life was too complicated without maintaining a few artificial boundaries. Galia did not have an office; she did not need one. She stayed in their small set of rooms, keeping mainly to the large study. He called it a study. Most visitors simply called it . . . strange. The walls were full of fixed shelves, the upper air dangled...

About the Author-

  • Karen Lord has been a physics teacher, a diplomat, a part-time soldier, and an academic at various times and in various countries. She is now a writer and research consultant in Barbados. Her debut novel, Redemption in Indigo, won the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the William L. Crawford Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, and was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 6, 2014
    This subtle, cerebral novel continues to explore the far-flung future introduced in The Best of All Possible Worlds. The myriad manifestations of humanity have settled on a number of worlds, still recovering from the devastation that rendered one of the major planets inhospitable. Enter Rafi, a young man burdened with potent psychic abilities, and his best friend, Ntenman, who feels oddly responsible for Rafi’s wellbeing. As circumstances take the pair from one world to another, always one step ahead of trouble or disaster, they remain united through their love of the popular game known as Wallrunning, where Ntenman excels and Rafi struggles. As Rafi hones his powers, he learns that his ability to draw people together as a nexus may hold the key to restoring an easier, quicker way to travel between worlds, which could revolutionize galactic society. The pacing is slow and the story is understated, not helped by leaps from one perspective to another. Lord’s exploration of alien culture and character development overshadows any real action or sense of progress, making this a dry but intriguing offering. Agent: Sally Harding, Cooke Agency.

  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2014
    World Fantasy Award finalist Lord (The Best of All Possible Worlds, 2013, etc.) offers a complex coming-of-age story about negotiating competing loyalties. Although this is presented as a stand-alone novel, it really isn't one; readers unfamiliar with Lord's previous work may have a hard time following its many threads. The action takes place in a galactic system of four planets and their colonies. People from each planet specialize in a particular aspect of humanity: For those from Sadira, it's the mind; from Ntshune, the heart; from Zhinu, the body; and from Terra, the spirit. Rafi Abowen Delarua, of Terran descent, is a student at the Lyceum, a sort of reform school established "to bring together all the rogue and random psi-gifted of Cygnus Beta and teach them ethics, restraint, and community." Threatened with being "capped"-made to wear a mind-control device-he escapes to Punartam, one of the colonies, where he joins a team of Wallrunners. Wallrunning, this galaxy's answer to football or Quidditch, plays an intricate and mysterious role in the galaxy's complicated social, political and perhaps military arrangements. It may also be somehow related to the ability of those with psi gifts to operate the mysterious Sediri mindships, powerful living spacecraft reminiscent of whales. Rafi is allied with a powerful family on his home planet, but on Punartam, he finds himself drawn in many directions and must learn where his loyalties lie. Lord is at her best describing vividly alien bioformed landscapes and exploring subtle differences among uneasily allied cultures. But this novel, with its tentacled narrative structure and many references to previous events, is not the best entry to her world.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2014
    Having won multiple awards for her debut, "Redemption in Indigo", Lord leapt from small-press publishing to the big time with "The Best of All Possible Worlds", a Buzzfeed Best Book. In her third book, the nephew of Best's heroine skips about the universe with an intergalactic sports team. Pitched to the Ursula K. Le Guin/China Mieville crowd of literary sf readers; Lord's Afro-Caribbean background adds interest.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2014
    Lord's latest, set on several planets in the richly imagined humanoid galaxy introduced in The Best of All Possible Worlds (2013), combines a coming-of-age tale with intergalactic politics and a look at a sport called Wallrunning, which is highly popular in the galaxy. The narrative follows Rafi, a young man trying to understand the depths of his psionic abilities, as he leaves the Lyceum, a school on his home planet, Cygnus Beta, for Punartam, a planet that produces great Wallrunners and boasts influential academies known for rigorous research and philosophical thought. His more savvy and worldly friend Ntenman accompanies Rafi and helps him navigate the alien and matriarchal Punarthai culture. Lord challenges readers with inventive settings, exotic names and locales, and intricate social and economic systems, and her flowing prose adds depth to the story. Because it has new characters and its own story line, the novel is billed as a stand-alone, but those who want the full flavor of Lord's blend of social-science fiction and interplanetary adventure would be better served by starting at the beginning of the saga.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Tor.com Praise for The Galaxy Game "There is a weight and grace to [Karen Lord's] prose that put me in mind of pewter jewelry."--NPR "This novel is a satisfying exercise in being off-balance, a visceral lesson in how to fall forward and catch yourself in an amazing new place."--The Seattle Times "A smart science fictional fable as inventive and involving as it is finally vital."

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