Author: Ada Palmer
Title: Seven Surrenders
Series: Terra Ignota #2
Seven Surrenders is the second installment in Ada Palmer’s acclaimed Terra Ignota series, following immediately after the events depicted in Too Like the Lightning. Spanning only a couple of days, it’s packed with pivotal events, heightened emotions, and operatic drama. As its predecessor, it tries to say something meaningful about utilitarianism and religion, about gender and sex and war, maybe about determinism and free will as well. It saddens me to report that this time around, however, it failed on all fronts – at least for me.
I’ll be frank, and succinct. I did not enjoy reading this novel. I still can’t believe it was only 365 pages – it sure felt much, much longer. The reading was a chore, and at least twice, after some particularly melodramatic reveals, I was ready to DNF it. I didn’t, and I’m glad I persevered, because I feel Palmer’s ambition deserves to be read and talked about. But the sheer amount of improbability, both psychological and physical, the overabundance of coincidences and twists of fate, didn’t feel like proving the existence of Providence – only like lazy writing. I guess Palmer’s 18th century hangup, while arguably charming, has some very serious drawbacks – the main being that philosophy, and social sciences, not to mention science, have developed significantly since that time, and no amount of secret brainwashing sects ruling the world can change that. It’s not a criticism aimed solely at Palmer – much of our modern SF literature seems to be more obsessed with the past than with what will come next, populating humanity’s future with artefacts from humanity’s history.Continue reading “Ada Palmer, Seven Surrenders (2017)”