- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; First Edition edition (Aug. 19 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812568826
- ISBN-13: 978-0812568820
- Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.4 x 17.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 181 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,054,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Spherical Harmonic: A Novel in the Saga of the Skolian Empire Mass Market Paperback – Aug 1 2002
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Catherine Asaro's Saga of the Skolian Empire has quietly become one of the most interesting, ambitious, and popular science-fiction series since Dune, captivating readers with its complex universe, its diverse cast of sympathetic characters, and its imaginative blend of hard SF, future history, military SF, space opera, family saga, and romance. Spherical Harmonics is the seventh book in the loosely organized series.
A woman comes to consciousness on a world she doesn't recognize, and fades out again--literally. As nonexistence and awareness alternate, the woman regains her memory, realizing she is Dyhianna Selei, the Ruby Pharaoh, titular head of the Skolian Empire, who was destroyed in a star-spanning battle that ravaged both her empire and that of its enemy, the Aristos. Instead of dying, Dyhianna was transported to a distant world via the quantum-mechanical universe of Hilbert space--and now she is in danger of disappearing permanently into that nonphysical universe. And that isn't her only problem. Her husband has been physically and psychologically scarred by his captivity in Aristo hands. She may have to overthrow the elected government of her own Empire in order to resurrect it from the ashes of the Radiance War and defend it from the powerful Aristos.
Spherical Harmonics follows (and sometimes overlaps) the events in The Radiant Seas, 031286714XThe Quantum Rose, and Ascendant Sun. Other books in the series include Primary Inversion, Catch the Lightning, and The Last Hawk. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
This fast-paced entry in the Saga of the Skolian Empire (The Quantum Rose; Ascendant Sun; etc.) provides a backstory with plenty of battles and political machinations that will no doubt delight fans of the series, but may leave others scratching their heads. We follow the flawless and very powerful Dyhianna Selei, after she wakes up on the moon Opalite, as she slowly regains her memory and seeks to be reunited with her husband and son no easy task, as her husband has been captured and enslaved while her son has disappeared into psiberspace, perhaps forever. Psiberspace, which links together the commerce of several star systems, is down, and suddenly everyone is jockeying for power Dyhianna, unwillingly, among them, as her family becomes a rallying point for followers dissatisfied with the status quo. A coup places Dyhianna in power as both the reigning Pharaoh of the Ruby Empire and as the leader of the representative Assembly, an unprecedented sociopolitical change with far-reaching implications. Her quest to regain missing family members takes her to Earth, where the presence of her fleet threatens the volatile relationship between the Skolian Imperialate, which Dyhianna now leads, and the Earth Alliance. Asaro, a physicist, weaves scientific descriptions of Kyle space, spherical harmonics and orbitals with fantastic elements of psychic powers and mental telepathy. Science and fantasy make an uneasy mix here, but underpinning and transcending both are complex interpersonal relationships that center on love and loss. (Jan. 3)Forecast: Billed as SF romance, this has obvious crossover appeal to romance readers, but they may be disappointed to find no big compelling love story.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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Catherine's time line, which appears at the end of every book in the series, simply tells us that in 2277-78, Dehya "coalesces." Exactly. The novel deals with rebirth, the physical rebirth of Dehya and of the Ruby Dynasty itself, as Dehya sets out to collect the Skolians' scattered surviving members (they've been decimated by a destructive war).
Dehya coalesces virtually naked and alone on a primitive world and doesn't quite know why. Throughout the book she keeps acquiring family members, friends, and allies (and clothing), and at the end is quite a formidable presence indeed. The structure in a way is similar to Ravel's "Bolero," which starts out with a single instrument and a single melodic line and ends colorfully and thunderously.
The story sweeps along in grand fashion, filled, as always, with action, romance, and painless lessons in quantum physics, as Dehya learns that sometimes she has to go against the people she admires and work with those she doesn't. All Catherine's characters are complex, reluctant heroes, and Dehya might be the most complex of all. She learns her lessons well and she learns the limits of power.
Notes and asides: Newcomers to the series should start with "Primary Inversion" and read the books in the order they're written in. And then, when you're caught up, you can wait breathlessly with the rest of us for "The Moon's Shadow," which is due out in 2003.
For those of you not familiar with Asaro's Skolian universe, in a nutshell, humans crawl their way into the stars in the twenty-second century to find out that, surprisingly enough, humans already occupy most, if not all, of the inhabited planets in the galaxy. Two warring Empires, the Skolians and the Eubians, have fought to control about three-quarters or so of the inhabited planets in the galaxy between them. The Skolians are, in theory, a democracy, although power is uneasily shared between the Skolian ruling family and an elected council. They run their Empire-Democracy through the means of a sort-of collective mental net in which sufficiently sensitive telepaths can communicate instantly with each other, providing an unparalleled means of coordination within the culture. The Eubians, on the other hand, are not only tyrannic and imperial, but they are obsessed with genetics and virtually all the ihabitants of their Empire are slaves. Earth, which finds itself the great Switzerland of the galaxy, finds itself often on the sidelines holding together an alliance that provides the pivot on which the galactic balance of pwer hangs.
All of her previous books have dealt with various members of the Skolian royal family, but Pharaoh Dyhianna has always been a rather shadowy background figure. This book deals with her (from a first-preson perspective) in the wake of the Radiance War that nearly destroyed both the Skolians and the Eubians. It shows Dyhianna in a very surprising light - a woman who is not always easy with her power or the galactic attention she recieves. She is fiercely intelligent, but also quite jealous of her and her family's privacy and power, Dyhianna's saga in "Spherical Harmonic" involves her finding herself (literally) after the end of the war and her impressive struggle to reunite her fractured family.
As with the best books in the Skolian Saga, this one focuses equally on politics, physics and family. Asaro in this book also avoids her sometime tendency (which, admittedly, occurs more with male than female protagonists) to discuss their romantic exploits in quite graphic detail. It is tender, exciting and surprising all in one go. I recommend the entire Skolian Saga, but I do not recommend starting here if you're not familiar with the series. Begin with "Primary Inversion" instead. If you are, definitely read it and if you've been put off by some of the other books in the series, this is book to return to the series with.
Asaro's emphasis here is less on romantic entanglements than on political intrigue: The Skolian and Trader Empires are seriously damaged by their war, but past romances hold out a hope of reconciliation.
Asaro is an absorbing storyteller whose greatest contribution is her insistent reminder that brain and heart need not be separate.
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