Title: The Best of All Possible Worlds
Author: Karen Lord
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
It’s the distant future and there are multiple races of humans who have different characteristics and cultural norms. The Sadiri are an advanced race with great mental powers, but they are reserved in their manner and demeanor. When their home planet is destroyed by an alien race, the survivors set out for Cygnus Beta, a planet that plays host to colonies of different human races, in order to rebuild their broken civilization.
The Best of All Possible Worlds is an interesting work of science fiction centering around a race of humans called the Sadiri, and specifically, a Sadiri counselor, Dllenahkh and Delarua, a Cygnus Beta scientist and civil servant determined to help the Sadiris rebuild. It’s interesting to watch the relationship between these two develop; Lord does a great job making it organic and allowing it to grow at its own pace. Readers will be able to see where the relationship is heading long before the characters do, but it’s nice how right and natural it feels, especially considering that these two come from very different places.
The premise of The Best of All Possible Worlds is certainly interesting, but the novel does suffer from some execution flaws. The basic story is that Dllenahkh, Delarua, and a team of Sadiri travel to various colonies on Cygnus Beta to obtain genetic samples to see who would make good matches for the Sadiri. It provides an opportunity for smaller stories to be told in the context of the larger plot, yet these feel disconnected. It doesn’t feel like the novel had a cohesive narrative; instead, it seemed as though the characters were merely traveling to one place, having an adventure, then traveling to another. It made for a jarring reading experience.
Additionally, the world building in The Best of All Possible Worlds is not as grand as one would hope. Lord has written a fascinating universe in this book, yet there is so little description of it. The reader is plunged into this completely alien setting and given very little background. While basic details are given, much of the planet and the universe it occupies is shrouded in mystery. It can be frustrating at times, just because it’s difficult to put events and attitudes in the proper context when you have so little background. Even Cygnus Beta, the planet on which the entire novel takes place, gets very little description. It makes it very difficult to visualize this story while reading.
While I did enjoy reading The Best of All Possible Worlds, the issues I found prevent me from wholeheartedly recommending it. It just seemed to suffer from a lack of depth. If you’re new to science fiction, I would perhaps look elsewhere for an introduction to the genre, as this isn’t the best example. That being said, I’m no expert on science fiction, so I’d be interested to see how a true fan of science fiction books reacts to this novel.