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The Best of All Possible Worlds

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  4,604 ratings  ·  871 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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 ·  4,604 ratings  ·  871 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: first-reads, sf
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)
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
4.5 stars!

A love story like no other.

I loved this book.

For those that didn’t find a plot; hint: it’s a romance. Or the progression of a man who lost everything due to disaster destroying his planet and learning to come to terms with that, and forge a way forward for his people. And that included a new relationship which was slow to kindle and slow to develop but so satisfying in the end. Told from someone else’s POV.

This story also has a lot of cool SF elements, which I loved: psi-powers, min
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
Brittany McCann
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
May 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
Reading Vlog: https://youtu.be/MLxlIc-hQis

The Best of All Possible Worlds is a beautifully written, episodic piece of science fiction that is a bit reminiscent of Ursula K. Le Guin. Quiet, character and world driven with a super slow-burn central romance between a bureaucrat-scientist and the diplomatic leader of a refugee group escaping the destruction of their home planet. It wasn't what I expected, but I quite liked it. It includes some interesting sci-fi elements such as telepathy, emotional
This is a standalone science fiction book about finding appropriate wives for a group of Vulc… I mean, a group of Sadiri, after their planet has been destroyed and most of their women killed.

Ok, it’s really about more than that, but that’s the main plot that drives the story from beginning to end. The book is set on a planet where refugees from many different human cultures over the centuries have come, living in small and mostly insular communities where they maintain their own culture. The Sad
MB (What she read)
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
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
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. ...more
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Best of All Possible Worlds starts off grimly, with Dllenach of Sadiri receiving word of the genocide of his planet while he is off-world at a meditation retreat.

It may start grimly, but it sure doesn't stay that way! Things get really loopy from here on.

After the initial chapter, the majority of the story is told from the first-person point of view of Grace Delarua, a civil servant whose usual job is to help various settlements on Cygnus Beta with agriculture. She is called upon as a cultur
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
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Video Review (Spoiler Free): https://youtu.be/8tCvyNFa_LI

Currently my favorite read of the year. Its a very quiet, reflective sci-fi story that completely stole my heart. I loved exploring these cultures and watching this team get closer and work through various troubles. It was the perfect length for the story being told and I cannot wait to re-read it one day.
Feb 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Several people had recommended this title, and indeed author, to me. I am so pleased that I finally listened to them.

How to describe this novel? An ‘anthropological science fiction romance' where we see survivors of an alien race (some similarities with Vulcans, mainly mentally/psychologically) trying to rebuild their society after their homeland is destroyed. They find refuge on a world peopled with a variety of humanoids and have to decide whether to preserve their way of life, and if so,
Jan 26, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

I enjoyed this book, but it never gripped or moved me as much as I wanted it to. It was also a little too meandering for my taste.
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
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like romance novels, and if I'd known this would be one I probably wouldn't have bothered. But then I would've missed out! This is a sweet sci-fi romance between likeable characters where a relationship based on respect, trust, and kindness builds very slowly. There is also lots of travel and adventure; very engaging. ...more
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff-club
The Best of All Possible Worlds explores what happens when a society loses the “backbone of the family”: women. While I loved the beauty of the final chapter and what it means to love someone, the rest of the book did not really grab me. I think, I would have enjoyed this more as a novella, that got rid of the unnecessary stuff. To me, this was the world-building, never deeply explained and often suddenly revealed (or maybe I just didn’t get the hints). I just realised now, that there is a sli ...more
Kristin B. Bodreau
I am… confused… I think something happened at the publishing house and someone switched the last half of this serious SciFi with a Hallmark Romance Movie of the week. I don’t know how it happened, but I think someone should be held accountable. I’ll admit to not being particularly invested at the beginning. The character development wasn’t great, and the world building was interesting, but pretty slapdash and incongruous. But, I was starting to warm up to it. And then Elves showed up. And then w ...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
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, sci-fi
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!"
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