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Monday, June 03, 2013

Fool's War by Sarah Zettel

Fool's War offers me a "new" author of science to me, but obviously not to everyone, as Fool's War was originally published in 1997 and was Zettel's second novel.  One of the best science fiction novels I've read in a while;  I will be looking for more of Zettel's work in both science fiction and fantasy genres.

Book Description:  Four centuries after humanity has colonized the galaxy, information freight companies are used as an alternative to electronic communication. On one of her frequent trips into deep space, Katmer Al-Shei, owner of one of the smaller information companies, is accused of smuggling artificial intelligence. When Al-Shei tries to clear her name, she uncovers conspiracy after conspiracy, all set against the backdrop of a looming war.

 I really enjoyed the novel and the characters.  The plot involves the fear of artificial intelligences (regardless of how useful) and the possibility of theses AI's going rogue.  HAL from the Space Odyssey films is referenced more than once, and other AI's that have spontaneously caused death and destruction are dreaded by the colonists because so much of human life in space is sustained by the work of computers.  But what differences exist between AI's that have developed the ability to think on their own and human beings?  And what if, among thinking AI's, a contingent forms that intends to put prejudicial humans in their place by any means necessary?  Who to trust?  How to  survive?

Recommended for science fiction fans, but the characters are interesting and well-drawn, and the plot suspenseful, so I think many readers would enjoy the novel.  Even without the idea of computers developing into thinking individuals, our dependence on them makes any catastrophic failure of the system a genuine calamity; the plot gives food for thought.

Author Profile from Goodreads:

Her (Zettel's) debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback in 2009. Her latest novel, Dust Girl, was named as one of the best young adult books of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association. Zettel lives in Michigan with her husband, her rapidly growing son, and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer.

Zettel writes as authors C.L. Anderson and Marissa Day.

From NetGalley/Open Road Media.

Science Fiction.  1997, 2013.  Print version:  464 pages.


  1. I have heard of Zettel but never read her. I will add this to my wish list!

  2. I liked this one a lot, even though some of the technical stuff concerning the data systems was beyond me. I will be looking for some of Zettel's other novels!