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Fool's Run

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  417 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Seven years ago, Terra Viridian obeyed a vision and killed 1,500 innocent people. She was sentenced to the Underworld prison. Now, a new age band, led by a psychic pianist and a masked woman called the Queen of Hearts, arrives at the prison to perform. And Terra's vision is moving closer, changing all their lives forever.
Mass Market Paperback, 244 pages
Published February 1st 1988 by Warner Books (first published 1987)
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This book does have a plot, but I think it's more effective to just lay the pieces out: Terra killed over a thousand people seven years ago, and now she's locked in her strange, inexpressible visions on a prison colony; a musician who reads minds sometimes; a cop looking for someone who can explain the unspeakably horrible; a curious scientist with a machine that can project thoughts, who takes it upon himself to wonder if Terra might be sane after all.

So I keep reading McKillip, because -- well
This book was a bit mystifying. Bits of it were familiar, bits of it were sort of a lyrical science fantasy, and bits of it seemed to be almost surreal.

First off, let's say right up front that it's not really McKillip's fault that Terra (one of the main characters) seemed eerily familiar. I'm not saying she would definitely be played by Summer Glau in the movie, I'm just saying that the distant, deadpan, psychic woman who babbles apparent nonsense that actually isn't, and knows (and is terribly
Rachel Matuch
Terra Viridian sees visions she can't explain. Years after she's locked away, someone else begins to see what she sees—a beautiful, enthralling vision—but he knows he sounds just as insane when tries to describe it.

Fool's Run is kind of like that. Patricia A. McKillip hits all the notes she was born to sing: her writing is at times gorgeous and ethereal, at times starkly human. The universe she's imagined is worth a trip. But try to describe the plot of this book, especially the ending, and you'
Althea Ann
A re-read - but I'm fairly sure I read this way back, around when it came out, before I was actually a huge fan of Patricia McKillip specifically. I'd just grab all the sci-fi that turned up at the public library.
I was delighted that I liked it this time around as much as I'd hoped. While, in a way, 'Fool's Run' is quite different from most of McKillip's books, being sci-fi, not fantasy, it shares many of the themes that run though a great deal of her work.

The story enmeshes a convicted mass-mur
Katie Daniels
Probably the best book I've read all year. Easily the most amazing thing I've read since Riddle Master of Hed, with the significant advantage of being much shorter. I thought I understood Mckillip, her style and her strengths, but Fool's Run proved that she can do things with fiction that I never even dreamed possible. I didn't know what to expect from her in a science fiction genre and I started it looking for it to be science fantasy, but it isn't. It's magical, for it's a story of light and m ...more
An amazing book. While I enjoy just about everything McKillip has written, this book made me weep it was so beautiful.
Jean Weber
Everything I have read by Patricia McKillip has left a hook in my subconscious. Months after reading it, I'll read, see or hear something that will bring back a section of her marvelous prose, bidding me to take the book out and read it again. This one does it frequently. Each time I read her books, I learn something new about myself through her characters. This story has harder edges than some of her works, and the ending feels like another beginning, but it still works its magic.
As expected, McKillip's lush dreamy prose is here, but in a science fiction setting, rather than a fantasy setting. At first, that kind of threw me, but once I'd immersed myself in the sheer poetry of her language, it didn't bother me so much. One of the things that McKillip does, I think, is create tiny "mysteries" or puzzles for her characters to solve and then she fully involves you in the dialogue created as those puzzles are solved. It can sometimes be confusing, but there's something very ...more
Rosie Morgan
This is the first book of Patricia A. McKillip's that I didn't like that much. I still liked the style and the characters, but the plot was minimal even for her, and she lost a lot of the things she's usually best at. She normally flows several different characters and storylines together in this fabulous tapestry of fairy-tale wonder, but this one fell a little flat. I never quite got my feet under me. I liked the obvious sci-fi bits - the spaceship and the prison - but I just couldn't get thro ...more
It was fascinating to read Patricia McKillip doing sci-fi. And, as always, her writing was fascinating and almost painfully insightful.
This is the first McKillip book that left me feeling unsatisfied, though. She didn't quite manage to make the world seem complete. I dislike it when authors introduce a concept (in this case, an alien) that is unfamiliar or implausible to both the reader and the characters, and then don't give it a reason for having been there. I wanted to know more about the le
Caitlin (Ayashi)
Probably about a 2.5 stars... this book was well written but I wasn't super into the plot, there were a lot of characters and not enough time to get to know each one as much as I would have liked, and at times it was extremely confusing. The story was interesting at a surface level but once you actually were reading each chapter sometimes it was hard to follow. The ending also only kind of wraps things up, like I'm still not sure why this vision was so important in the first place.

That said, McK
Nick Benson
Well written and pretty good - I've only read her fantasy before but this is science fiction. A group of musicians play a gig at a secure off world prison that is home to a mass murderer subject to apocalyptic visions.
I've only read a little of her work but she seems to prefer her stories to be driven by the rubbing up against each other of two initially at least incompatible systems rather than a straight forward goody/baddy, good/evil tension. That is harm may happen even though nobody particu
I love McKillip's books. I love her imagery, her writing style, her plots, and her characters. I had never read one of her books that I didn't fall in love with... until I read this one. The characters and writing are still incredible, but the plot lost me. If there actually was one, it was chaotic at best. I could give you a summary of what happened, but I couldn't tell you why. I would highly recommend any of McKillip's work - just skip this particular novel.
I reread this book mostly because the writing is beautiful. The plot is all right; the characters are ok; but the words themselves overpower everything. In this book, McKillip's style is beautifully balanced, lucid and lyrical. It seems all wrong to do so (especially since the plot and characters are nothing special) but I can only compare it to the first chapter of "A Tale of Two Cities." It's so beautiful, it made me cry.
This is one of Patricia A. McKillip's earlier efforts, and it shows. While still filled with her trademark dreamy prose and lyrical weaving, the plot is ultimately confusing and unsatisfying. We are never given an explanation for Terra's strange vision - we are told it is important, but it is never explained why.

Give this one a miss, and try her other beautifully written fantasy novels, which therein lies her true talent.
It wasn't as good as McKillip's fantasy novels. I liked The Underworld and the conflict between magic and science, but I ultimately didn't understand the lynch-pin of the plot, the strange visions which Terra Viridian was experiencing. I don't think the reader was supposed to fully understand, but I found myself more in the dark than I would have liked, especially given the build up of the novel was basically leading there.
It was fascinating to see McKillip apply her lyrical style to a sci-fi setting, and it worked surprisingly well. Like many of McKillip's novels, "Fool's Run" is sort of about identity and belonging. Also like most of her work, it's about "otherness" and the way that can interfere with relationships. Her sparse way of laying out the story's setting also works incredibly well here.
As always, the best part of reading McKillip Is her use of language - sparse, economic and beautiful. The story was intriguing, especially in its ambiguity, and her ability to evoke strange, almost fantastical, worlds speaks to her roots in fantasy.
Then again, I love everything this woman does.
Kathy Davie
Oh, this was VERY different! Quirky tale of a prison escape, an impromptu band, a masquerade, personal conflict, and possession with a surprise ending. Yeah, you'd think it would be a surprise ending after all's even more of a surprise than you'd think.

Very homey.
Marsha Lynn
Not sure what sent me this direction. I'm sure many have liked it, but I had a terrible time getting into it and was lost for many pages before finally sorting out the characters and setting. Which may say more about my taste for sci-fi than the book itself.
I believe this is Patricia McKillip's only science fiction novel, but it is as well-written and thought-provoking as her fantasy novels. The characters are enigmatic but engaging, and the story line is also somewhat enigmatic, but worth the effort.
Dave Peticolas

The Locus review on the cover concludes "... the novel will be long remembered." Well geez, if I didn't go and forget it. It might have been good, though! The Amazon reviews seem to like it, but they generally like most everything.

I enjoy McKillips fantasy writings but this one felt more like an adult book full of bizarre personality disorders that too graphic and like the real world. I'd skip this if you are looking for fantasy b/c this isn't it.
Moe  Shinola
The story is not real straightforward, but in this book are characters you'll never forget and miss once you're finished reading. Some of the best-realized characters in any book I've read.
Couldn't decide if it wanted to be fantasy, science fiction, a romance, a prison break-out novel: so what the hey, let's do it all. Disappointing book from an author I usually enjoy.
Patricia McKillip is nearly always amazing, and she certainly is here. It's sci fi rather than fantasy, but the same kaleidescope of elements, colors and sounds...
Maureen E
The only sci-fi McKillip I’ve read so far. I liked it, although in some ways it felt more like fantasy than sci-fi. [Oct. 2008]
This would be one of the books I might pick, if I could only suggest one science fiction book to a doubting friend.
Very interesting story, well written of course. I happen to prefer fantasy over futuristic space fiction.
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Patricia Anne McKillip is an American author of fantasy and science fiction novels, distinguished by lyrical, delicate prose and careful attention to detail and characterization. She is a past winner of the World Fantasy Award and Locus Award, and she lives in Oregon. Most of her recent novels have cover paintings by Kinuko Y. Craft. She is married to David Lunde, a poet.

According to Fantasy Book
More about Patricia A. McKillip...
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