Perfect State

July 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , , )

perfectPerfect State by Brandon Sanderson


It seems like whenever I read a Brandon Sanderson novella, I learn of another Brandon Sanderson novella that’s escaped my attention. I wasn’t aware of Perfect State until I finished Snapshot, so of course I had to add it to my list. I started and finished it a lot faster than I expected.

Perfect State starts off telling us about an emperor who is immortal and all-powerful (well, almost; he’s still working on controlling the weather), but it quickly veers out of fantasy and straight into science fiction when we discover that the emperor is living in a computer simulation. This isn’t a spoiler, mind you; it’s revealed within the first ten pages or so. What makes it interesting is that the emperor knows he’s living in a simulation, and that his powers come from the master computer that runs the simulation. It hasn’t stopped him from ruling for hundreds of years and finding more and more challenges to keep him engaged. Then he receives a mandate from the master computer, to find a woman (a liveborn woman, not a Construct) and mate with her. The computer even gives him a list of available women, ranked by compatibility, to make it easier for him.

Sanderson creates an interesting world here, and it’s easy to like Kairominas, the emperor, but the story seems like it has too much wasted potential. There’s nothing extraneous to the story, mind you, but to spend so much time creating this kind of world and using it for such a brief story makes it feel underutilized. I’d like to know more about the other liveborns in their own worlds, and how they feel about being pawns in a simulation. Maybe Sanderson was trying to avoid the tropes of this kind of story, but I can’t help but feel like this is a setting ripe for a larger, more complex kind of story.

Knowing Sanderson as an author, though, there’s a good chance that he’ll revisit this world to tell those other stories. I imagine he’ll stick with telling them using novellas, which will limit the scope of the setting, but maybe he could write them as a series of its own, creating a novel-length story over the span of four or five novellas. That’s just me dreaming, though; there’s no indication this is Sanderson’s plan.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. It was better than the Legion stories, but not as good as The Emperor’s Soul. It’s probably on the same level as Snapshot, which is fitting, since that’s the story that led me to Perfect State. The hardcore Sanderson fans will like it best, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an entry point for readers new to him. It just doesn’t show off his strongest talents.

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The Last of the Jedi: Dark Warning

July 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

warningThe Last of the Jedi: Dark Warning by Jude Watson


Obi-Wan and Ferus are back together, on the run from Boba Fett. The book opens with them trying to evade the infamous bounty hunter, which leads to a crash landing on Acherin, a planet that is still fighting the Empire. From there, the two learn that other Jedi have survived, and are in exile, but in need of help. Thus begins (what I assume is) the central story of The Last of the Jedi: to find them and keep them safe.

Much of the story is about Ferus returning to the ways of the Jedi. Having been away from the Order for so long has made him rusty, but the more he uses the Force and accepts it, the stronger he becomes. Even before this series, it was hinted that Ferus would have been the strongest Padawan, save for Anakin, and here we see that in spades. Obi-Wan becomes his Master, as much as he can for a dead order, to an apprentice who left the Order many years ago. It’s a tenuous relationship between the two, which is strained as Ferus reminds Obi-Wan that he is not his apprentice.

The story is decent, but it depends too much on coincidence to keep it moving. At one point, Ferus returns to Ilum to harvest kyber crystals from the caves, only he doesn’t have a lightsaber with which to use them. As luck would have it, Garen (who, admittedly, they also expected to find in the cave) has been in hiding in that same cave, but feels that he’s in no shape to use his lightsaber anymore. He gives it to Ferus, saying that he’s lost the crystals to it, so Ferus can just drop his in and go. Later in the story, Ferus comes across a pile of lightsaber hilts, and wouldn’t you know that the first one he sees is that of Tru Veld, the apprentice who died at the end of Jedi Quest due to Ferus’ questionable meddling. How it wound up where it did, especially after his death, is a mystery, especially when you learn what the pile of hilts is all about.

Watson continues to tell a good tale, and the ending of this one had an emotional punch that’s familiar in her books. She doesn’t always hit it, but when she does, she does it just right, and Dark Warning does just that. Given how she ends this book, I’m interested in seeing where the rest of this series goes.

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