cover image Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart

Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart

Steven Erikson. Promontory (Midpoint, U.S. dist.), $27.95 (468p) ISBN 978-1-77374-012-6

This talky novel of first contact with reluctant alien overlords enjoys overturning notions of human exceptionalism. Seeking a facilitator for human-alien interactions, aliens abduct Canadian SF author Samantha August and try, over the course of many chapters, to debate her into agreeing to be their spokesperson. Meanwhile, their invasion (euphemistically called “the Intervention”) proceeds, with swaths of wilderness suddenly off-limits to humans and violent acts stopped in their tracks. Oil companies, warlords, and abusive husbands are unable to carry on with “business as usual.” Erikson (the Malazan Book of the Fallen epic fantasy series) has fun skewering many high-profile targets such as televangelists, billionaire investors, and politicians (particularly a stubby-fingered, hotel-owning U.S. president), and also dissects many of the unquestioned beliefs of contemporary capitalism, neoliberal politics, and even Star Trek’s prime directive. In the end, he suggests, humans can only change so much. Readers who are not averse to some lengthy Socratic dialogue (“If you will allow me this brief digression”) and Erikson’s own unquestioned belief that only SF authors are smart enough to save the world will find a wealth of pointed arguments that burst many irrational bubbles. (Oct.)