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3.5 

Exordia

By Seth Dickinson
Exordia by Seth Dickinson digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

Michael Crichton meets Marvel’s Venom in award-winning author Seth Dickinson’s science fiction debut

"Agonizing and mesmerizing, a devastating and extraordinary achievement."—The New York Times

Magnificent. . . . A science fiction action juggernaut.—Tamsyn Muir

A most anticipated book of 2024 according to Goodreads, LitHub, and The New Scientist

Anna, I came to Earth tracking a very old story, a story that goes back to the dawn of time. It’s very unlikely that you’ll die right now. It wouldn’t be narratively complete.

Anna Sinjari—refugee, survivor of genocide, disaffected office worker—has a close encounter that reveals universe-threatening stakes. Enter Ssrin, a many-headed serpent alien who is on the run from her own past. Ssrin and Anna are inexorably, dangerously drawn to each other, and their contact reveals universe-threatening stakes.

While humanity reels from disaster, Anna must join a small team of civilians, soldiers, and scientists to investigate a mysterious broadcast and unknowable horror. If they can manage to face their own demons, they just might save the world.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

6 Reviews

3.5
“To be reductive, this is basically the most Seth Dickinson book Seth Dickinson could have possibly written, full of political conspiracy, moral and philosophical discussion, and enough hard sci-fi to require a requisite physics textbook as supplemental reading. I personally love that, but I have to concede that it also severely bogs down the plot, leaves characters to act as enormous exposition dumps, and still doesn’t manage to tie off a conclusive ending.”
“DNF 11% in. I wanted to like this and it had potential, but it was just not good. The author shoves an entire alien civilization’s history, customs, and concepts into ten pages and expects you to remember it all, plus the delivery of the entire Part One is rushed and left me saying “wait what?” over and over. I also hated the banter between the two main characters. Then you start Part Two and not only does it seem like a completely different book, it seems like a completely different author as well. They take their time to go over details and I felt much more confident in what was happening with the plot, even though it bounced around and had way too much military jargon I’m unfamiliar with.”
ViolenceBad writingUnengaging charactersUnsatisfying plot
“Cuteness aggression, the urge to be violent when in the presence of something so adorable that you’re at a loss of what to do, and while this book was anything but cute, it’s the only thing that I find describes this phantom itch in my brain that I don’t know how to scratch. I want to throw this book across the room. I want to snap it in half. I want to beat it with a stick. I absolutely loved every second of it. NOTE: for fans of Dickinson's the Masquerade series, the full fantasy-meets-mathematics hashing-function breakdown that goes on for like two pages in https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/6131055142 is quintessentially what you should expect this book to be but then for like 400 pages straight (just so you know what you're getting into). "I know you have no reason to believe me. So here are some things only the aliens could have told me. When you get to Tawakul, you're going to find a lot of destroyed Iranian tanks. You're going to find some dead Russians too. You're going to find a laboratory site constructed around the Blackbird. "You're going to find corpses in that laboratory. A lot of corpses. "And then something's going to start killing you. Something you can't fight. And I hope you’ll listen to me then.” This is me writing in the heat of my excitement after having just finished this masterpiece. It's me genuinely throwing a tantrum because I'm angry there aren't any pages left for me to read (it has 800+ words on my ereader so it's not by any means a short read, I'm just whining). Treat this review like you would a teenager's diary full of feelings and thoughtless scrabbles and passionately caps-locked shitty handwriting. It's me throwing up my feelings, essentially. Why do we see a universe that seems fine-tuned for life? Exordia is a perfect blend of accurate (I can't stress this enough, it's SO ACCURATE—at least where my field is concerned) science, action that stripped my vocabulary down to yeah's and uh-huh's in social settings, and really well-written characters. Look. I'm picky. I usually only read books if I can relate to the main character, which means they're almost always female, and if they aren't women I gaslight myself into believing they are anyway, which is easy enough if it's in first person--don't ask me what I thought of the Percy Jackson series (the daughter of Poseidon really is great, isn't she?). And they're usually gay. But Seth Dickinson managed to somehow make me give more than two shits about a middle-aged white man named Erik. This is not to say there aren't many great female characters included in this story. The first act starts out with Anna's POV, a brutally honest, fucked-up, snarky Kurdish woman with walls on walls on walls. Her backstory and how it ties into her character, her relationship with others, with her mom, all enticing on its own (I would’ve more than happily read an alternate slice-of-life story of Anna and her alien gf’s adventures in 2013 New York similar to Kobayashi Dragon maid but I learned you should eat up what’s put in front of you). Then there's autistic STEM lesbians. They're great. I loved their dynamic and the slowwww burn and I can’t wait to see where all that will lead in the next book. Chaya is so cool and Aixue makes me want to drop my major and study mathematics. Brother we killed white people. Clayton and Erik. I've seen reviews mention they didn't enjoy their POVs or simply found them boring. I can't disagree more. Erik's devotion to be good purely because it's the right thing to do, no matter how stupid, rivals Clayton's sober calculative mindset. I like the word that's used to describe them: Rath. I want to be Erik's definition of a hero, but I also want to be as smart and cunning as Clayton is in dire situations. Is Erik too naive? Is Clayton too detached? It's not that far a leap to imagine what their rath can do. Can you comfort anyone with a ratio? Can you tell them for every one of you sad shits over there, there are a whole lot of happy people over here? Every character was there to drive the plot and unravel the mystery further. I cared more about solving this spaceship's purpose and its workings than I cared about anything else. I read Aixue's explanations like I would my uni textbooks, slowly and deliberately. I'd reread them until I thought I understood them well enough—as if an exam was waiting for me at the end of it. Her discussions with other professors, her mathematical explanations, the physics involved . . . even the neuroscience aspects were incredibly accurate, making the neurobiology student in me froth at the mouth. And that's also why I understand the 1-2 star reviews I've seen floating on top. All of human thought and language is about creating low-entropy approximations of a high-entropy world. If it were not possible to do this, everyone's name would need to be as complicated as the person it named. Every thought would be as large as the thing it described. Because this book is complicated. I'm someone who keeps school and reading for fun separate. At least, I thought I was before discovering Exordia (I'm adding more "hard sci-fi" books to my shelf as we speak--I feel like a baby tasting sugar for the first time). There's many pages worth of just physics and numbers and explanations, and I almost put the book down at the start of act 2 because I really didn't feel like exercising my brain at 2 AM, but I'm so glad I kept going. The science jargon starts to make sense around act 3, and I felt excited when I began to really understand what Blackbird is and does, and why the aliens want it so badly. I never believed in souls, but the science made me reconsider that souls are essential, and that in and of itself made me adore this story. The research itself was also very accurately depicted, and I half expected the author to include the product numbers of the various ThermoFisher equipments he added in. I'm planning on rereading it for the science alone, because it's THAT well done. The proto-nerd often believes that awareness is the way to control, but in fact awareness only makes you aware of your powerlessness. And if you do not accept that powerlessness it can so easily become hate. If you're not someone that enjoys this sort of thing (well-researched pages filled with calculations, philosophical debates about choices and souls and being human, characters fleshed out to the point of grieving their loss when reaching the last page) this book isn't for you. But don't knock it 'till you try it. I'm planning on adding my favorite quotes when the book is out on shelves (update 23/1/2024: just did!). I've already preordered the hardcover and I am definitely rereading this. Is it too soon to say this might be my favorite book I've ever read? I don't know, but I'm saying it anyway. 10/10. Thank you to Netgalley, Seth Dickinson and Tor Publishing Group for the ARC! Song on loop: Sorcery - The Toxic Avenger - if you're someone who likes to listen to music while reading, this song fits so well with the context of this book in my opinion. I've read this in 7 days, hours of listening to this song on loop, and I didn't get sick of it once. My next year's Spotify wrapped is set in stone.”
“Not easy but an amazing work and I found it incredibly well done. Note, you should have a resistance for in likable characters and a willingness to read points again and again and again. Thanks for the arc cheers!”

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