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Fool's Run

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  563 Ratings  ·  42 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.
Paperback, 244 pages
Published February 1st 1988 by Warner Books (NY) (first published 1987)
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Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
One great line. Loved it as a kid. Not sure it aged so well.
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sciencefiction
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
“It makes me uneasy because sometimes I have a hunch that things rarely happen by chance. They happen because events tug each other, because people’s loves and hates and desires are constantly overlapping, because unfinished business, no matter how forgotten it is, is always asking to be finished.”

as all of McKillip’s books do, this fucked me up, I think more than I expected it to. it reminds me a lot of Samuel Delany (both stylistically and thematically), which makes sense to me in retrospect b
Althea Ann
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Rachel Matuch
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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'
Caitlin (Ayashi)
Apr 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. While I enjoy just about everything McKillip has written, this book made me weep it was so beautiful.
Lissa Notreallywolf
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was one of the first few books I read this year, and I have to say how much I enjoy this author. I remembered her , as lyrical, a poet, but this book was both that and a sock in the jaw. It was written in the 80's wen the author was living in San Francisco, and so was I. I have no memory of ever meeting her, but it's clear that the dance club scene was an influence. A musician starts having uh...fugue states...of consciousness while playing, not unusual for musicians. It seems to settle dow ...more
Chris Waraksa
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
One of the few books by McKillip I hadn't read as they came out. This may be her only SF book and it is not one of her best, but it does have a lot of the features that I have enjoyed in her books. I like the way that her characters are unraveling riddles instead of fighting evil. In McKillip's worlds there isn't evil but rather misunderstanding and danger that arises from the misunderstanding or the state of not knowing all the facts. Spoiler alert. The story revolves around a horrible crime co ...more
Ian Mathers
Mar 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Hoo boy, I need to get through these. I am grading this one on a curve, I'll happily admit; McKillip is one of my favourite ever authors and have written many books that hit me harder than most things I can think of, so reading a novel of hers (sci fi instead of fantasy, even) that just seems okay is a bit of a let down. Honestly the setting is interesting enough, the writing good enough, and the ending moving enough that from almost anyone else I'd probably bump it up to 4 stars, but you'd be s ...more
Katie Daniels
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 30, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Sonia  Grace
Jun 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
this is McKillip's only sf work, and the publisher hedges all bets by describing it as "science fantasy". and it does in some odd way belong in a genre category all by itself - though possibly Samuel Delany's early sf works, of which this book reminded me, might scootch in there beside it. the book doesn't entirely work, i think, but it's full of marvellous ideas, and often beautiful language to describe the indescribable. a poet's work, really. or a musician's. and it's worth the ride, to see w ...more
Aug 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sff, own-it-in-paper
McKillip does sci-fi... Though even still, it has a fantasy feel to it, with emphasis on hunches, dreams and visions. The characters felt like sketches to me; as a reader you were supposed to recognize a type and fill in the blank. The plot itself is strangely paced, a lot of development in the first part, then all of a sudden we are into something that feels action-y but yet with no end goal. The ending is satisfying on a character level but unfortunately I still don't understand the *why* of t ...more
Nick Benson
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I loved everything about this book except the last chapter or so. It's not that they're bad, necessarily. The story just feels incomplete. Everything came together, but it didn't have the weight or gravity I've come to expect from McKillip's stories. All the same, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. The story is pretty short, but she manages to create a whole lot of interesting characters, an intriguing world, and a well paced plot. It is kind of a page turner, but it still has a ...more
Jean Weber
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Kate Blumenthal
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I always enjoy reading Patricia McKillip although this would not be one of my favorites. When I was done, I felt a bit as I had when I finished Zelazny's 'To Die in Itelbar': "Um, what, exactly, is going on here?" I love the role of music in her books; music is a power that is independent of other characters. I would classify the book as fantasy rather than science fiction. It takes more than a spaceships to make SF.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
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.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, fantasy
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.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ms. McKillip's lone foray into science fiction and what a trip! I was already a long time fan of her fantasy in 1987 when this was published, so of course I bought this book. I've re-read it many times and am still bowled over by the story, the characters, the poetry of the writing.
Dave Peticolas
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it

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.

Jul 23, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
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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.

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