Too Like the Lightning: A Novel (2016)
“Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.
The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.
And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…”
by Ada Palmer
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Ada Palmer is an author of science fiction and fantasy, a historian, and a composer. Her first science fiction series “Terra Ignota” (published by Tor Books) mixes Enlightenment-era philosophy with traditional science fiction speculation to bring to life the year 2454, not a perfect future, but a utopian one, threatened by cultural upheaval.
Ada Palmer studies the long-term evolution of ideas and the history of religious radicalism, science, and freethought, especially in the Italian Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Classical Greece and Rome. She teaches in the History Department at the University of Chicago, and did her Ph.D. at Harvard University.