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The Best of All Possible Worlds

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  4,194 ratings  ·  770 reviews
A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change i ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Del Rey
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  4,194 ratings  ·  770 reviews

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Dec 31, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
With the planet Sadira destroyed, the few remaining Sadiri—mainly men—seek refuge on Cygnus Beta, a veritable melting pot of refugees, races, and cultures. It is here, with the help of biotechnician Grace Delarua, that they search for distant Sadiri cousins with whom to reunite and potentially marry. Their journey takes them far and wide into different places and cultures, all of which have some relation to the now lost Sadira. Along the way, Grace connects with and befriends the reserved Sadiri ...more
Oct 30, 2015 rated it liked it
So the big question is: Can you have a long, drawn out courtship between two level-headed middle-aged adults in a SF universe without much in the way of conflicts, misunderstandings, petty rivalries, jealousies, or much in the way of an overblown outside conflict bearing down upon them?

Why yes, yes you can, when it is called The Best of All Possible Worlds. I'm okay with pastoral romances, but usually there's a bit more plot and even if it's a mild comedy of errors or a comedy in the old romanti
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, first-reads
This was a lovely, subtle piece of science fiction, of a sort I don't see enough of. It's reminiscent of The Left Hand of Darkness and Ammonite: anthropological and travelogue-ish in the best senses. Lord develops characters slowly, letting the reader discover them through their actions as they are placed in new and strange situations. The story begins with a large-scale tragedy, but starts the action some time later, so that the book is about long-term personal coping rather than the immediate ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Julie Davis
I do not give out five stars lightly, but there are several reasons why I think Karen Lord's novel deserves it. This is pure science fiction, which was a surprise after reading her previous novel, Redemption in Indigo, which while enjoyable was a retold myth or fable. Since Karen Lord is one of three Caribbean authors writing in science fiction and fantasy, I have been looking forward to seeing what she would do next.

I have reamed novels set in space when they trade scientific description for un
Charlie Anders
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book totally rocked my world and changed what I thought was possible in space opera as well as stories about alien cultures meeting. Karen Lord has a wonderfully warm and funny voice which manages to bridge the gap between the horrific act of genocide that starts this book and the gentle romantic comedy that it becomes. You can read my full review of this book here. I feel like this book deserved way more attention than it got. There's also a delightful sequel, The Galaxy Game. ...more
very Ursula Le Guin like so far and a book i think I will greatly enjoy

Finished the book and it was surprisingly good - unusual in some ways, Vancian in some other ways with unusual cultures on a planet

The setup is very interesting - humanity exists throughout the Galaxy but in a few different flavors all having different levels/kinds of psionic powers and of which the cool intellectual telepaths Sadiri are at the peak in many ways as pilots of semi-sentient ftl ships, judges, Councillors etc; T
is the story good? Yes. Is it narrated in a specific way for a reason? Yes. But I just didn't really like it. I spent the majority of the story so emotionally detached from the main characters that I wasn't really invested in what happened with them. It was interesting, but more like a flipping through a magazine and then stopping to read an article before moving on again.

3 Stars
Originally reviewed on The Book Smugglers


Ana's Take:

I loved Karen Lord’s debut Redemption in Indigo and had been highly anticipating The Best of All Possible Worlds. The two books could not be more different but I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I haven’t loved a book this much in a while.

Definitions are hard but one could definitely pinpoint The Best of All Possible Worlds as an Anthropological Science Fiction Romance.

It’s set at some point in the future and Cygn
MB (What she read)
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Lois McMaster Bujold, Kate Elliot, Robin McKinley's 'The Blue Sword', etc.
Recommended to MB (What she read) by: & Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Wow! That was a true pleasure! WHY can't I find more books like this?! The best I can describe the reading experience for me is that it was like one of those filmclips of a flower slowly blooming, as the story opened, unfolded and grew more intricate and lovely the further I read. Plus, I loved the characterization and the dialogue as the characters interacted. The humor was lovely.

Please don't let the misleading YAish appearance of the cover art keeping you from picking this up. This is not a Y
This knocked my socks off! I’ll admit that I was a little buzzed the night I read the bulk of it, but my repeated cries of, “This book is so great!” to B in the kitchen had nothing to do with whiskey & everything to do with the excellence of this book. There’s a lot of science-y stuff that was a little over my head, to be sure (please don’t ever ask me to explain how Lian & Joral were freed from that cave-in; although I’d like to blame the booze I think that one is all my own ignorance), but my ...more
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
I really enjoyed this book. It didn't really have a plot and was more of a string of stories about what had happened in the MC's life. Because of this I was occasionally at sea, just waiting to know what the reason for the story was. Also, the transitions sometimes confused me but I was unclear if this was the text or the narration. But the story itself was really very cool. Most of it follows a woman over the course of a period of time and the life she leads is quite interesting. With the way t ...more
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
What a lovely, quiet love story amidst a tale of a race set adrift from all they know. This is slow-burn world building (it was killing me to not fully understand the relationship of these worlds to our own) but it all comes together. If you like the main characters, you'll enjoy this - it's all about them.
John Carter McKnight
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Yes, this is Abrams-verse Trek fic, no way around it. But it's wonderful on many levels. It's terrific sociological SF, wonderful character development and relationship building, excellent pacing. This was the first time in a very long time I couldn't put a book down, but read it straight through.

Lord's endnotes are especially interesting, and the book might've been better served had they been at the beginning: she links to several news articles of an event that underlies the basic scenario: an
This novel is simultaneously deeply subversive and disappointingly conventional.

It obviously owes its premise and much of the feel of its world to Star Trek. It's set in a universe where the speed of light is no barrier, where there are quite a few practically-human species capable of star flight, whose planets interact the way countries here on Earth do (meaning there's immigration to and from, they form alliances and declare war, and there's trade) and all of them can interbreed. The Sadiri, t
The Best of All Possible Worlds started off slowly for me. There were a lot of descriptions, and I felt that the author set up the world rather effectively. However, I did have a sense that I had seen some of these ideas in other books. Essentially, The Best of All Possible Worlds is the story of a race called the Sadiri who were almost wiped out of existence in a genocide and their quest to replenish their population with people of similar genetic backgrounds.

But this book is not only that – i
The Best of All Possible Worlds is Karen Lord’s second published novel, after her 2010 award-winning debut Redemption in Indigo. I haven’t had the chance to read that first novel yet, but it’s definitely on my list after reading her second effort. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a thought-provoking novel that hides a surprising amount of depth under a deceptively cheerful narrative. It’s not perfect, but it’s so brimming with interesting concepts that it practically begs for in-depth discussi ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Great little Scifi novel with a mild touch of romance towards the end, although the more traditional elements of Science Fiction are definitely the focus of the book. The Sadiri are a Vulcan-like race. Their powerful psi abilities have meant that they lead the galaxies in scientific endeavour, law and justice, and interstellar transport. A genocidal attack on their home planet almost wipes them out and it is left to the few pockets of remaining Sadiri (mostly male) to research ways t ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
The Best of All Possible Worlds is not a perfect book. I can sympathise with various of the lower-star reviews out there. It's a quiet book, contemplative, and ultimately despite the backdrop it's basically a romance against a sci-fi, post-disaster backdrop. It's not quite Ursula Le Guin, but I quite liked the slow progression. It had the feel of something unfolding, rather than a roller-coaster ride, and that's just fine by me.

I think some potentially problematic things are brought up by the pl
Boy this book is problematic. Just to start easy, there's the fact that the blurb has a stronger plot than the novel itself. That this is real romance of a thinly disguised Star Trek (Spock) fan fiction.

But the big problems are the unexamined issues of racial purity and gender roles (and probably a few other squicky things) that drive the Sadiri's quest and thus the plot, as far as it had one.
Jamie Collins
3.5 stars. The writing is quite good, and I liked some parts of the story very much, although it’s too slight and scattered to be a deeply satisfying novel. It’s light sci-fi set in a galaxy populated with humanoids, rather like a Star Trek setting.

The home planet of the Vulcans Sadiri has been destroyed, and the survivors are trying to determine the best way to preserve their race and culture. A group of male Sadiri have settled on Cygnus Beta, a planet which has been long colonized by a variet
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, book-club
Two and a half stars

If classic Star Trek fanfic sounds appealing to you then I have good news - this book reads like a Vulcan/Human love story. Lord has managed to write a regency romance masquerading as a sci-fi, and that has its own pros and cons. The structure is episodic as you follow the team on what read like away missions, each chapter taking the form of a vignette. It's a gentle read with very little action or peril, more like a day to day examination of these people and their lives. I d
Book #61 for 2018
Goodreads Summer Reading: August - Let's Get It On - Read a book that features falling in or out of love
Reading the Year with Penguin: August - Choose a book which tells a migration story
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica's Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with song lyrics in the title
Abandoned Book Rescue: (unprompted)

I spent entirely too long watching for other Candide allusions and biting social commentary. I even tried singing, "What a day, what a day, for an auto-da-fé!"
What? For the most part a slice-of-life type story about the remnants of a destroyed planet settling on another one and trying to find local brides to pass on their genes with, with obvious romancey overtones. It's quick, straightforward and yet unhurried, and some reasonably deft, quiet characterization makes it seem like it's all going to add up to something interesting. Instead, it adds up to a truly groanworthy, wincing collection of cliches, drawn seemingly not so much even from bad romance ...more
This should have been RIGHT up my alley--anthropological scifi is my jam--but OMG I spent the entire book so irritated by how the Sadiri were 100% indistinguishable from Vulcans. A race of highly controlled touch telepaths with a meditative tradition, arranged marriages with necessary telepathic bonds, who kiss by touching hands and who are now dealing with the destruction of their planet by a more emotional offshoot race? You don't say. There are even T'Pau and T'Pring stand-ins, for heavens sa ...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Feb 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the beginning, this book was not what I was expecting from a science-fiction novel written by the author of Redemption in Indigo. But although, until half way through The Best of All Possible Worlds felt like Firefly episodes about Vulcans written by Ursula Le Guin, after that, from the chapter named Ridi, Pagliaccio everything starts to make sense, everything that seemed disparate begins to come together perfectly and characters that were quite distant from each other, as from the reader, wi ...more
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Catastrophe strikes as a race called the Sadiri is nearly eradicated, and the remnant population strugglwa ro resurrect its culture by weeding through related species on planet Cygnus Beta. Sadiri councillor Dllenahkh is joined by planetary officials, including biologist Grace Delarua. The novel's beauty is two fold: first, an anthropological journey among various tribes and their interactions with the team, and second, the respect and growing intimacy between Delarua and Dllenahkh. A space oddi ...more
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-15
There’s a calmness about this that I found quite comforting. It’s a quiet little book that pleased my need for atmosphere and character. It’s a pleasant, quiet, cozy comfort of a read that perfectly fit my mood while watching leaves fall and eating Thanksgiving leftovers (both were absolutely yummy and delicious!). A slow-moving character study that left me delighted. A mythical tale told in a science fiction setting, with notes of deep humanity and sweet humor.
Laz the Sailor
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
This is a very quirky and somewhat random tale that ends up being delightful. Part Leckie, part Cherryh, and based on the afterward, part real anthropology, I was intrigued throughout the book. I didn't know the age or gender of half the characters for much of the story, and it didn't really matter. The various characters and cultures are unique but everyone makes an effort to get along. Most of the challenges are tame, but with depth and impact.

I'll read more from this author.
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
"When you’ve been almost exterminated, language is the first thing you cling to, one of the main roots of identity."


#ReadtheWorld 📍Barbados

Sociological sci-fi: the interpersonal, interplanetary, interspecies relations in a future world. How do we as humans relate and adapt to another creature so different in body and mind? How do we communicate and "read" their emotions?

Lord follows this path, trodden by some other science fi
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-challenge
this review refers to the audiobook version.

this book has a lot going for it: a distinct protagonist's voice, an interesting setup, a terrible and heartstring-tugging backstory. unlike a lot of sf, it very much concentrates on the emotions of the characters and the societal setup rather than gizmos and physics. but it lacks coherence and devolves rather too much into a "this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened" narrative rather than a unified whole.

the backstory: one horrid
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