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The Kindly Ones

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Orestes was a cruel world, cold and inhospitable. Its first colonists were castaways from a crash landing, clinging to survival through the institution of strict socio-political controls. Over the generations life grew somewhat easier, but the code of honor remained. Misdeeds, and errors, were paid for with blood.

At one time all miscreants were executed. Now, a social deat
Kindle Edition, 373 pages
Published 2012 by Crossroad Press (first published September 15th 1987)
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Apr 12, 2013 Sineala rated it really liked it
Any Melissa Scott book is likely to be good, and this one is no exception. I went in blind as to the plot, but because it's Melissa Scott I expected a smart SF novel full of queer characters, and I was not disappointed. (Of the four POV characters, Guil and Leith are very quietly in a lesbian relationship, and Rehur and Trey spend a night together; Trey's gender is never identified anywhere in the novel -- all of Trey's POV sections are first person. My brain kept trying to read Trey as male, be ...more
Buzz H.
Dec 17, 2015 Buzz H. rated it liked it
Shelves: f-sf, queer
Melissa Scott is a tough one for me. Her ideas are brilliant, yet I have started and abandoned many of her books. I simply cannot abide her prose. It's like swimming in molasses, and it drives me nuts.

All of that said I forced myself to get throughThe Kindly Ones though I wanted to put it down in frustration many times. And in the end I really loved the story. Just not the writing.

Is the main characters' relationship queer or no? We are left to ponder how we answer that and what it means about o
Sep 09, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok
Probably the most well-meant 2-star review I will ever give a book. The Kindly Ones begins delightfully, a Le Guin-esque planetary romance set on twin ice-planet moons with a mannered feudal society and a likable outsider protagonist. It is also interesting as a (subtly) queer SF novel from the 80s that does some unusual things with gender.

However. The writing is good and the worldbuilding is clever, but for me the action-driven plot fizzled about halfway through. I was not invested in the story
I picked this up as a reward for participating in the Fairfax County summer reading program, intrigued by the pulpy cover art and the solid description on the back. After glancing at a few reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Melissa Scott is known for her inclusion of LGBT characters in her stories, and that this novel in particular features a main character whose gender is never referenced (and has either sexual encounters with or attraction to both men and women) and a lesbian ...more
I love the worldbuilding here (I'm a sucker for ice worlds since reading Left Hand of Darkness at a formative age), but the pacing was rough. It started out slow--very slow. But the characters and setting drew me in, and I was prepared to enjoy it as a leisurely slice-of-life novel. Then the climax hit, all rushed action and rapid (and not entirely convincing) character growth. The contrast was jarring.

(view spoiler)
May 22, 2014 Sophia rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, ebook, 2014
It's marred somewhat by rushed pacing in the last third, but otherwise this was a great example of what I think of as "context scifi" -- no pages of background exposition, just getting thrown into a world you only come to understand through context clues. I was fascinated by the rigid and complex society of interstellar colonists that Scott created, and I liked having multiple POVs to understand it (though it was awkward having only one be first person, ostensibly to continue eliding that charac ...more
Warren Rochelle
Jan 07, 2010 Warren Rochelle rated it really liked it
I loved the Point novels she wrote with Lisa Barnett and this earlier novel shows the promise fulfilled in the latter ones. Same rich attention to details in imagining the society of Orestes here, and an interesting experiment in gender as Trey Maturin, the protagonist who is the Medium (arbitrator, mediator, speaks to the legally and socially dead, the ghosts, as needed) for one of the leading Oresteian families, a off-worlder, is never identified as male or female. At first this was disconcert ...more
May 22, 2013 Isis rated it liked it
SF with interesting worldbuilding (I love the physical aspects of the world even more than the social!) but a relatively slow-moving plot. The only thing I'm not liking about this is that having multiple POVs with one character in first person and the rest in third irritates me. (Multiple first-person irritates me, too. I am a curmudgeon and only like multiple POVs when they are all third person!) This structure gives the impression it's being done that way only so that the gender of one charact ...more
Sep 02, 2011 Skip rated it it was ok
I picked this up because of the prologue (love the mail ship captain), then the first chapter lost me. The world building is superb, and there are three interesting viewpoint characters, but unfortunately a fourth, the least interesting one is picked as main narrator. A figure so undefined that any effort to identify, root for or tremble with the character failed. Any hint as to weather Trey is male or female is carefully avoided, which is an interesting experiment, but it kept me outside. An in ...more
May 12, 2014 Sabrina rated it it was ok
Made it through the whole thing, but it was all rather blah. Nothing really caught my attention. The concept was interesting enough, but I didn't even realize the major plot line was major until 50% through. It was that slow. I guess I need a bit more action and tenseness. There wasn't even a real climax. I could've put the book down and forgotten about it easily. I did enjoy the characters though.
I loved loved LOVED. Rigid social code with severe consequences for those who choose to live outside that code! Almost Sicilian devotion to the honor of the Family! Reminiscent of "Swordspoint" in ways in which the society has evolved around the social code! "Blood and revenge" drama! With spaceships! Not sure why some of the characters were chosen as POV's, and why other, more engaging ones, seemed to play a secondary role. Not so much character depth this time, so: plot and worldbuilding first ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
Why don't people write science fiction like this any more? A very interesting examination of a society changing. Enough detail for plausible world building but done without info dumps.

The tech was well done too. This book is almost 15 years old but the tech is still futuristic rather than overtaken by events. Who remembers when the phrase 'The sky above the port was the colour of a TV tuned to a dead channel' was actually meaningful? I do which means I guess I'm showing my age.
Apr 10, 2013 Zvi rated it liked it
Nice solid SF adventure with lots of the good stuff I've come to expect from Melissa Scott -- an interesting view of gender roles and lots of female agency, a well-worked out exotic setting, and a complete lack of humour. I enjoyed it, though it really only kicked into gear for me once the action started -- a good third of the book is setup for the adventurous stuff that follows.
Oct 05, 2015 Rhode rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Love, love the concept if social death - a literal step beyond the cut direct - and how it is used here to foment a revolution.
Apr 21, 2013 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
reviewed on SF Mistressworks:
Amy Osterholm
Apr 30, 2013 Amy Osterholm rated it it was ok
Lemmed it.
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Scott studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, and earned her PhD. in comparative history. She published her first novel in 1984, and has since written some two dozen science fiction and fantasy works, including three co-authored with her partner, Lisa A. Barnett.

Scott's work is known for the elaborate and well-constructed settings. While many of her protagonists are gay, lesbia
More about Melissa Scott...

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