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Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart tells the story of the Intervention, which begins when Samantha August, science fiction writer, disappears into a beam of light, apparently from a UFO, while walking along a busy street in Victoria, Canada. While footage of the incident – captured on smartphones – goes viral, Samantha wakes up in a small room, where she is greeted by the voice Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart tells the story of the Intervention, which begins when Samantha August, science fiction writer, disappears into a beam of light, apparently from a UFO, while walking along a busy street in Victoria, Canada. While footage of the incident – captured on smartphones – goes viral, Samantha wakes up in a small room, where she is greeted by the voice of Adam, who explains that they are in orbit and he is AI communicant of the Intervention Delegation, a triumvirate of alien civilisations seeking to ensure the continuing evolution of Earth as a viable biome. Thus begins an astonishing, provocative, beautifully written and startlingly visionary novel of First Contact.


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Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart tells the story of the Intervention, which begins when Samantha August, science fiction writer, disappears into a beam of light, apparently from a UFO, while walking along a busy street in Victoria, Canada. While footage of the incident – captured on smartphones – goes viral, Samantha wakes up in a small room, where she is greeted by the voice Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart tells the story of the Intervention, which begins when Samantha August, science fiction writer, disappears into a beam of light, apparently from a UFO, while walking along a busy street in Victoria, Canada. While footage of the incident – captured on smartphones – goes viral, Samantha wakes up in a small room, where she is greeted by the voice of Adam, who explains that they are in orbit and he is AI communicant of the Intervention Delegation, a triumvirate of alien civilisations seeking to ensure the continuing evolution of Earth as a viable biome. Thus begins an astonishing, provocative, beautifully written and startlingly visionary novel of First Contact.

30 review for Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart

  1. 4 out of 5

    TS Chan

    I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher, Gollancz, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. With Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart, Erikson holds up a mirror for all of humanity. The Earth, when seen from space, shows no borders. A First Contact story that examines the path of the human race on Earth, Rejoice is a humanity-driven narrative and nails some very brutal truths about humankind at large; where humanity is heading to and what awaits us in the future without intervent I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher, Gollancz, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. With Rejoice: A Knife to the Heart, Erikson holds up a mirror for all of humanity. The Earth, when seen from space, shows no borders. A First Contact story that examines the path of the human race on Earth, Rejoice is a humanity-driven narrative and nails some very brutal truths about humankind at large; where humanity is heading to and what awaits us in the future without intervention. Once again, Erikson offers up a stunning philosophical discourse that is less allusory and hitting much closer to home compared to his epic fantasy masterpiece, Malazan Book of the Fallen. Even though this is an Earth-based story, its scope is still expansive as the narrative sweeps through the Americas, Russia, China and Africa through the eyes and minds of numerous characters who react to the alien intervention in myriad ways. If you are looking for a character-driven story, however, you will have to look elsewhere. While there is one main character that appeared the most, her development as the chosen spokesperson of the ET presence (as in the formal acronym of extra-terrestrial, and not Spielberg's) is not the focal point of the story. What was fascinating was that Erikson chose a Canadian science fiction writer to be that character - highlighting the level of empathy, understanding and intelligence prevalent in a profession that is more often than not subject to derision among the literary circle. "Yet another example of a brilliant Canadian Science Fiction writer virtually no one in this country knows about, outside of the aficionados of the genre. Never reviewed by the Globe, or the National Post. So, who is she, madam Prime Minister? Smart, opinionated, a feminist, a humanist. Frankly, I'm not surprised the ETs selected her." How very telling, isn't it? That Erikson chose to highlight how SFF writers with their imagination can understand and empathise more with the plight of our world as humans threaten the sustainability of the planet and capitalism serves to widen the gap between social hierarchies; themes which many other current SFF writers are incorporating into their fictional narratives. "Good writers don't blink. They don't shy away from hard truths." If you want to know more of these hard truths, I do recommend picking up this book. I will not be able to write it better than Erikson did and as such, shall refrain from doing so in this review. Do note that this not your typical thrilling science fiction adventure, it is highly philosophical and the narrative can drag at times. Nonetheless, there is a spark of humour and wit in the writing as a few notable current real-life personalities are fictionalised in this book, and to great effect. It is because of the conviction that I share with the author around these social and economic commentaries that I enjoyed reading this original First Contact story as much as I did, notwithstanding the uneven pacing and occasional dryness of the prose. With the death of your imagination, you lose the sense of wonder. But you need wonder. You need it to stay sane, and you need it to keep your heart from turning to stone. This is why we read, as stories provide us with a sense of wonder and discovery, teach us empathy and give us hope. And more importantly, this is why my favourite genre is science fiction and fantasy. This review can also be found at Booknest

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stefan Bach

    "If freedom had an ugly side, this was it." Sloppy, Mr Erikson. Very sloppy. Now, the idea itself, idea where humanity was faced with a ET Nursery, and the entire world is forced to behave like children in kindergarten, except that from these children all of their favourite toys were taken away and they were forced to play with each other and be good, is amusing. Very amusing, in fact. But I think there isn't a human being in this world who hadn't spared at least a minute of thought, laying lat "If freedom had an ugly side, this was it." Sloppy, Mr Erikson. Very sloppy. Now, the idea itself, idea where humanity was faced with a ET Nursery, and the entire world is forced to behave like children in kindergarten, except that from these children all of their favourite toys were taken away and they were forced to play with each other and be good, is amusing. Very amusing, in fact. But I think there isn't a human being in this world who hadn't spared at least a minute of thought, laying late at night, procrastinating while waiting to fall asleep, imagining how the world would look like if these scenarios were implemented on us. And in our minds, all these scenarios were probably far better and more original than the one in this book. We only haven't wrote the book, I guess. So, this book sadly isn't a wake up call, there's nothing groundbreaking in it, it doesn't call for a conversation - at least not any that hadn't been led countless times before, I'm sure - and that's the saddest thing about this book. Considering how great writer Steven is, and how many topics he covered in his Malazan series, I had (rightly) expected from him a fresh idea. "They didn't shelter their own, didn't feed their own, didn't heal their own, and yet, in the midst of all this inhumanity, they held themselves as the pinnacle of human civilization." Fresher scenario than that in which Americans are portrayed as nothing but pompous douche-bags who think highly of themselves while rest of the world sees them as idiots with big guns. Or that people in Russia and China think of themselves as oppressed just because western civilizations say so and how they would immediately start rioting if they knew leaders of these countries had no power at their disposal. Anyone who was at least just a little bit geopolitically aware of, and was able to form opinion outside of that what mainstream media is constructing for their own self-serving narrative, would assume that, in the given scenario like in this book, people would react like they did. And that's what makes this book, not just a missed opportunity, but outright boring. Get back to high fantasy, dear Mr Erikson. We deserve best of your thoughts. Not these musings at midnight.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Great premise, some wonderful moments and some intriguing characters and fine writing but blimey, despite all of that, I found this book so difficult to finish - it has a message (about whether mankind is a species worth saving and the state of American politics) and it doesn't bear it lightly. I love First Contact stories but this has buried it beneath philosophy and endless discussion. Not one for me although, as I say, it has glimmers of something very special as the aliens' plan is revealed Great premise, some wonderful moments and some intriguing characters and fine writing but blimey, despite all of that, I found this book so difficult to finish - it has a message (about whether mankind is a species worth saving and the state of American politics) and it doesn't bear it lightly. I love First Contact stories but this has buried it beneath philosophy and endless discussion. Not one for me although, as I say, it has glimmers of something very special as the aliens' plan is revealed stage by stage.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam Whitehead

    A Canadian science fiction writer is abducted by a UFO from the streets of Victoria, British Columbia. The world shrugs and dismisses it as a social media hoax. Days later, mysterious forcefields start appearing around wilderness areas in danger of human encroachment. Fracking sites are cut off, animal migratory routes disrupted by human civilisation restored and fishing boats are unable to cast their nets. Then people find themselves being forcibly prevented from hurting one another. An Interve A Canadian science fiction writer is abducted by a UFO from the streets of Victoria, British Columbia. The world shrugs and dismisses it as a social media hoax. Days later, mysterious forcefields start appearing around wilderness areas in danger of human encroachment. Fracking sites are cut off, animal migratory routes disrupted by human civilisation restored and fishing boats are unable to cast their nets. Then people find themselves being forcibly prevented from hurting one another. An Intervention has taken place. Far above the Earth, an alien presence has arrived. Its mission is to repair and restore the biosphere of the planet but it is conflicted over what to do about humanity, who have been abject failures in their role as custodian of the planet's welfare. Fortunately, they have another job in mind for humanity, one that merely requires them to completely transform the very paradigm of their existence, forever... Steven Erikson is best-known in genre circles for his Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy sequence, consisting of ten brick-thick novels packed with battles, sorcery, comedy, tragedy, drama and musings on compassion, morality and ethics. The Malazan series is both an epic fantasy and an inverted interrogation of epic fantasy. His forays outside the field into science fiction have been less noteworthy, consisting of three Star Trek pastiches and a post-apocalyptic novella. Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart is therefore his first serious, full-length science fiction novel and it's probably going to take people by surprise. It's relatively short (400 pages of quite large type), focused and a bit of a throwback to SF's golden age, consisting of story development through sequences of conversations between core characters. It feels like something Clarke or Asimov would have written in the 1950s, except with far superior character development. Integral to the story is the fact that people can no longer hurt or kill one another, which means that the good old genre stand-bys - shoot-outs, nukes, battles, chases, character deaths - are unavailable to the author. This feels like a challenge Erikson has set out to himself and he meets with relish. The wit and erudition of the Malazan series is still present here, but seriously pared back to more human and witty levels. Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart is, surprisingly, Erikson's most approachable and accessible novel to date. It's a novel that asks big questions about the future of humanity and what our fate will be, self-destruction (either in war or from societal collapse resulting from environmental disaster, dwindling resources or simple exhaustion of the human spirit) or enlightenment, discovering means of abolishing scarcity and moving into a truly utopian existence, and how that will impact on a species conditioned by centuries of exposure to free-market capitalism. To that end, those expecting "Malazan, but in space," (at least in terms of sheer scale) will be disappointed. But those up for a stimulating, question-raising, intelligent SF novel which explores ideas of scarcity, postcapitalism, paradigm shifts, fake news, populism, climate change, Big Dumb Objects and environmentalism, all done in a concise manner, this book is for you. Challenges abound in the novel, most notably how to build tension when it's literally impossible to have any kind of military confrontation or action resulting in injury or death. Erikson does this with a great philosophical debate: the mysterious aliens spare humanity for a specific reason, because there's something we can do they cannot, and this central mystery is gently teased out over the course of the book in a manner that's compelling. It's also not quite resolved in the space of this one novel: sequels are not strictly necessary, but would be welcome to explore some of the mysteries left unexplained in this book. This is also a novel which may be tapping SF's golden age, but it's also a very timely novel. There's nods to the #metoo movement and almost all of the movers and shakers in the story are based on real people. It's pretty obvious which US President the fictional one is based on, and spotting the fictional equivalents of the Koch Brothers, Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch is amusing. The book also has a very human side, and the key theme of the Malazan series - compassion and empathy - rears its head here as well. There's also a few touching tributes to SF authors who have passed away in the novel, which may make a few lower lips quiver. Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart (****) is going to be a divisive book, I feel. I suspect some will be bored by a novel which consists almost entirely of conversations between people without a laser gun battle in sight (there are a couple of small explosions though), but for those who read SF for ideas, for intelligent observations on the world around us and explorations of what humanity could be if it could throw off the shackles of inequality and exploitation, this is a fascinating work.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lenore Kennedy

    I had the amazing opportunity to read this book pre-publication for my podcast. The concept is like nothing else I have ever read--I highly recommend this book! Especially if you are interested in humanity and where we are heading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marin Bratanov

    Short version: A great deconstruction of our society. If you are into thinking about human nature and the way humans interact with one another, read this book. It feels personal and at the same time - generic and all-encompassing. This book isn't about aliens, but about humans. It isn't about first contact, but about our daily contacts with others. The feelings I got ranged from existential despair to the pure optimism of the golden era of Sci-Fi. Of course, you'll get plenty of Erikson's best - f Short version: A great deconstruction of our society. If you are into thinking about human nature and the way humans interact with one another, read this book. It feels personal and at the same time - generic and all-encompassing. This book isn't about aliens, but about humans. It isn't about first contact, but about our daily contacts with others. The feelings I got ranged from existential despair to the pure optimism of the golden era of Sci-Fi. Of course, you'll get plenty of Erikson's best - full-blooded characters that each have their own distinct voice, thoughts and actions that are believable. By the end of the book you'll think you know the people even though they are struggling to find themselves in the wake of the Contact. Extended review starts here. If you are not familiar with Erikson's other works, read a few articles, posts or reviews on (or of) his before plunging into this book. His writing is serious, at times even tedious, and it is always rich on philosophical subjects and not just on the events being described. Often times he won't even describe events, but feelings, thoughts and social/philosophical paradigms. And put them all to serious questioning. "Rejoice" is far better than the psychology/philosophy textbooks I was obliged to study on in high school, this book is a much deeper, thorough and profound exploration of human nature, fears, hopes and mistakes than anything I've seen. I'd venture that it's even better than some introductory pieces of specialized literature. With this in mind, don't let the first 10% fool you - they are very fast-paced, but this will not keep up (nor should it). It is a great intro to the book because it lets all the characters sink their hooks in you. Their introductions feel so real, so personal, so believable. You'll definitely find someone who resonates with you. For me it was the the way the intimacy between the doctor and his missing wife is explained, the way the cop loses faith in humanity. The first few percent reek of the desperation in this world that most people fail to see with their happy-go-lucky always positive attitude that is somehow modern in this day and age. As the book progresses, you'll get even more people, all from varying walks of life, and the mystery will deepen. I actually believed *spoiler* that Adam will just delete mankind when instead he stopped violence *end of spoiler*. This is where it gets really interesting, because Then "Rejoice" really plunges into exploring what pieces of shit humans really are, while at the same time affirming how great we can sometimes be. It's a duality in us that cuts like a knife to the heart. What surprised me the most is the *spoilers* optimism Erikson seems to hold in humanity - I can only compare it to authors like Assimov who wrote about the best in mankind's nature and its ability to adapt, overcome and do good. On the other hand, if someone magically resolved all my problems, perhaps I would be a much better person too, who knows. *end of spoiler*. Ultimately, "Rejoice" is about exploring the what-ifs of human behavior and thinking, and it does a marvelous job of that. Nothing is overdone, all things are in moderation, even the optimism and faith in mankind. Read it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vasil Kolev

    The worst thing about this book is that it's not going to happen. It not as much makes you think (although that's present), but pisses you off and makes you want to change things. I didn't find any inaccuracies in the description of the current world (except the changed names and maybe toned down personalities).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sadir Samir

    This book demands your attention every single page and forces the reader to ask themselves some very deep questions about humanity and the societies we live in. The themes explored in Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart are very close to my heart and kept me incredibly fascinated all the way through. I'm so glad Erikson wrote this book. He's one helluva brave author. I really don't enjoy writing reviews but I know how important they are to support authors. Hence my very short reviews.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Federica

    Potrebbe avermi risvegliato la voglia di esplorare romanzi di fantascienza. Grazie, Steven, come sempre.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stella

    Hmm, no. I like the epic Fantasy a lot, but this style of SF doesn’t work for me from this author. First of all, it’s barely a novel at all. Someone said it’s not a character-driven book, but I’d go one further and say it’s a philosophy class discussion. What would be the consequences of this scenario. The text is meta and removed and philosophical, but at the same time it reads as very close to our reality. This makes it hard for me to see the characters’ ethics and opinions to be anything other Hmm, no. I like the epic Fantasy a lot, but this style of SF doesn’t work for me from this author. First of all, it’s barely a novel at all. Someone said it’s not a character-driven book, but I’d go one further and say it’s a philosophy class discussion. What would be the consequences of this scenario. The text is meta and removed and philosophical, but at the same time it reads as very close to our reality. This makes it hard for me to see the characters’ ethics and opinions to be anything other than a thin veneer for the author’s opinions. In this case that’s difficult, because the philosophical nature of the book makes those ethics and opinions a “universal truth”. That said, I agree with this truth for the most part - it just irritates me that this is what happens with the book. I thought about giving it two stars, but eh, three will do.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    This book got off to a good start for me with a key scene located on a block I know well, after living in Victoria for 30+ years. "Up the steps" -- oh, yeah, those steps, right by the cash registers, so the grocery store must be Wellburn's .... OK, this book needed to be written, it has important ideas, etc. But gosh, it's dull. I'll never read it again. It's unavoidably didactic and philosophical, and I admit Erikson has made it less so than it might have been. Wouldn't mind an explanation of t This book got off to a good start for me with a key scene located on a block I know well, after living in Victoria for 30+ years. "Up the steps" -- oh, yeah, those steps, right by the cash registers, so the grocery store must be Wellburn's .... OK, this book needed to be written, it has important ideas, etc. But gosh, it's dull. I'll never read it again. It's unavoidably didactic and philosophical, and I admit Erikson has made it less so than it might have been. Wouldn't mind an explanation of the Rob Sawyer cameo. More to it than just two Canadian SF writers? I sense a favour owed, or a friendly wager lost. Erikson decided to represent major players such as the POTUS, who is a cross betweenTrump and Lyndon Johnson. It made me notice how many present-day or near-future SF books leave the top-level players at a distance and have us deal with their representatives, who don't have to have a real-life counterpart that we're constantly matching against. But it worked reasonably well. It's a bold, large "what if?" step, drawn at the nation level but also at the individual average-person level, as it should be. Finally, I thought, "Only one large volume? Erikson never does that." But as the plot unfolded I thought it would have to wrap up here. Apparently not. In a process that felt a bit pasted-on, we're set up for some big-time space action, with plenty of room for ten more volumes. But I wonder, what will happen when the (view spoiler)[ can't-be-violent-at-home humans are unleashed on a vaguely-described enemy with an unspecified amount of support from a godlike race?(view spoiler)[ I guess we'll have to wait for the next one. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bennett Coles

    I've been a big Steven Erikson fan for a long time, and he did not disappoint in this literary tour de force that takes the first realistic look I've ever seen at how an Alien First Contact might REALLY go. This is a thought-provoking read - there are no sizzling action sequences, no breathtaking sudden breakthroughs (no Hollywood, basically) - but there are fascinating character studies and some amazing responses to some big, big questions. As a commentary on the human condition I can think of I've been a big Steven Erikson fan for a long time, and he did not disappoint in this literary tour de force that takes the first realistic look I've ever seen at how an Alien First Contact might REALLY go. This is a thought-provoking read - there are no sizzling action sequences, no breathtaking sudden breakthroughs (no Hollywood, basically) - but there are fascinating character studies and some amazing responses to some big, big questions. As a commentary on the human condition I can think of few equals. This book is literary science fiction at its very best.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annemieke / A Dance with Books

    Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review Rejoice, a Knife’s Heart is a sci-fi novel by Erikson. Erikson is probably most known for his Malazan fantasy book series. Books I’ve heard great things about so I was eager to give this book a chance. Unfortunately I struggled a lot with this book. Sci-fi comes in all shapes in forms. From dystopia to space opera’s. But one other aspect that is often a big part of the genre is the introspectiveness to l Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review Rejoice, a Knife’s Heart is a sci-fi novel by Erikson. Erikson is probably most known for his Malazan fantasy book series. Books I’ve heard great things about so I was eager to give this book a chance. Unfortunately I struggled a lot with this book. Sci-fi comes in all shapes in forms. From dystopia to space opera’s. But one other aspect that is often a big part of the genre is the introspectiveness to look at our own society. Something that this book attempts to do and in places certainly succeeds. For one, the nod to the current Trump administration and its voters was very clear. America got quite a few jibes here. But also at capitalism and economy in general and how we sometimes lack empathy towards the other humans that occupy this earth if they aren’t in our own circle. Or how our society seems to spin around violence in ways. I applaud that. And then you will say, but wait Annemieke, wasn’t this a book about first contact. It is. And it isn’t. Why I did not enjoy this book was because of the packaging. We go through a variety of different characters throughout this book to showcase the above introspectiveness. However I felt nothing for these characters. I barely get to know them because then we quickly shift to another character. The conversations quickly grew boring because there was nothing for me to invest in. And unfortunately Erikson’s writing style is somewhat on the dry side. I also question the characters chosen but most of all the slave driver and pedophile who seems to be getting some kind of redeeming arc. It was disgusting. The first contact is more of a background setting to everything. We don’t get big aliens but an AI who asks an SFF writer to be their spokesperson and then doesn’t let her do it for the majority of the book which I didn’t get. I did find it interesting that an SFF author was chosen. Very nice indeed. We got a little more from her point of view which was nice in places. Overall though if you like dry reflections on society sci-fi novels than this first contact might be completely up your alley.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Though Steven is best known for his Epic Fantasy Malazan series, it’s been clear for a while that he’s a genre fan. As well as Epic Fantasy, he has also published Star Trek inspired SF-comedy that fans of The Orville may appreciate, with (I believe) a third book due soon in the US. And now there’s this: a full-blown, ‘proper’ SF novel that takes one of the genre’s biggest tropes – first contact – and gives it a whole new spin. The story begins with science fiction author Samantha August being abdu Though Steven is best known for his Epic Fantasy Malazan series, it’s been clear for a while that he’s a genre fan. As well as Epic Fantasy, he has also published Star Trek inspired SF-comedy that fans of The Orville may appreciate, with (I believe) a third book due soon in the US. And now there’s this: a full-blown, ‘proper’ SF novel that takes one of the genre’s biggest tropes – first contact – and gives it a whole new spin. The story begins with science fiction author Samantha August being abducted from a street in broad daylight – one minute she was there, the next, gone. We discover that she has been chosen by a foreign artificial intelligence, who on the behalf of some enigmatic aliens, wish her to be humanity’s representative. (Science fiction writers have fewer personal axes to grind, have greater imagination and are better equipped to cope with grasping out-of-the-box concepts, it seems.) To show the seriousness of its intent, whilst Samantha makes up her mind to be involved, the AI (amusingly named Adam) begins the task of saving Humanity and the world’s ecosystem in ways that, to humans, seem incredible. Violence becomes near-impossible. The world’s natural resources - the rainforests, the Canadian Tar Sands and others - suddenly become shielded no-go zones. Food and water is provided for those who need it. A new cheap energy source is given freely to those who want it, something that will power everything from an electric toothbrush to a space rocket engine. It seems like a new world and a new dawn for Mankind. But it is not a free gift without conditions. Adam explains to Sam clearly that Humans must show the aliens that we are able to adapt, and in the usual sf-nal process of Uplift, prove ourselves worthy of this boon. There is also that tricky situation of what to do in a post-capitalist world (Iain M. Banks gets a mention here.) And what about the moral and ethical issues, whether people can cope with a loss of free will in return for a world without violence? Off-planet, things are also changing. On the Moon those troublesome alien Greys are sent packing, and their no-longer-secret base there is being developed into – something – which Humans are dissuaded from visiting. At the same time, Venus is being transformed, thanks to a giant sunscreen and the use of many comet impacts, clearly for something in the future. As this brief summary suggests, there are big ideas here. Steven builds these up carefully and, as a consequence, Rejoice starts fairly slow. Much of the first part of the novel is spent introducing characters from various backgrounds and setting up the premise. There’s then a lengthy pause whilst the aliens (or at least the AI Adam on their behalf) sit back and let the world adjust to the new situation. The world struggles to make sense of what is happening and there is an element of denial at this stage. To reflect this, we see events from various diverse points of view around the world. There’s the Trump-like US President, Raine Kent and his advisors in the West and to counter-balance this, the story from the perspective of Liu Zhou, the Science Advisor to Xin Pang, the Leader of the Chinese government and Konstantine Milnikov, a Putin-like Russian leader. Away from politics we have vlogger Joey Sink, business entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers and mercenaries in the African rainforest. Overviewing it all are various delegates of countries in the United Nations struggling to decide what to do next. Steve can’t resist a little self-appreciation here - it’s great fun to see the Canadians be involved (a nod to Steve’s native country) emphasised by a cameo from Canadian s-f writer Robert J. Sawyer. At about the halfway mark of the novel we begin to see the Human response to the AI’s arrival. The pace picks up a little as the Chinese stage a raid on the abandoned Grey lunar base to gain a potential advantage. Up to this point the AI’s purpose is still unknown, even to Samantha, who is still considering being the Human-alien liaison. On the whole, it seems benign and beneficial, though not without a price. Steven does well to consider the moral and ethical views of many of those concerned.  In this aspect, in places Rejoice reminded me of an upgraded, contemporary version of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End – not a bad thing, in my opinion. When Samantha returns to Earth in the last part of the novel, her speech to the United Nations and the listening world is eloquent and logical. At this point my doubts about using a science fiction writer for this role are dissuaded in a tour de force speech that reminded me of Klaatu and Gort in the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (more than the original story). Most of all, here the book brings a Star Trek style optimism by the end. There is hope for the future and even an excitement that humans are on the threshold of a new beginning. The ending is a major cliff-hanger that will need clarification in a future novel. In summary, Rejoice is a great ‘proper’ science fiction novel that takes what I think often makes s-f great. There are big ideas here and Rejoice treats them seriously. It is clearly a novel that has been thought about for a while and is written with enough confidence to tackle those s-f tropes full on, dragging them kicking and screaming into the light of intense scrutiny and using them to an appropriate conclusion. As well as being accessible, entertaining, and even amusing, I suspect Rejoice will raise many questions in the thinking reader’s mind that will bear repeated thought after finishing the novel – and if ever you needed the sign of a good SF novel, in my opinion, that is it.  Big ideas examined with a broad perspective and balanced with a certain degree of humour and optimism – Rejoice is a triumph.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hertzan Chimera

    Surely, at some point in its evolution, it was the (short) story of Samantha August, a woman abducted by a UFO and the AI she converses with, before Earth is ;liberated from capitalism'. This bit was great. And the end of the book, when 'personalities clash'. Personally, I only enjoyed the bits where the AI and August conflab'd... the rest of it felt like the kind of multi-testimony filler that takes a clever short story into novel-length word count. Gollancz themselves must accept the blame for Surely, at some point in its evolution, it was the (short) story of Samantha August, a woman abducted by a UFO and the AI she converses with, before Earth is ;liberated from capitalism'. This bit was great. And the end of the book, when 'personalities clash'. Personally, I only enjoyed the bits where the AI and August conflab'd... the rest of it felt like the kind of multi-testimony filler that takes a clever short story into novel-length word count. Gollancz themselves must accept the blame for leaving this tale in such a distractionary and unsatisfying state. Didn't rejoice, sorry!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jemma

    It’s so nice when you get offered a chance to review a book you’ve already had your eye on for a while and have already preordered, Rejoice A Knife to the Heart with its super advanced alien A.I, Sci-fi writer main character and moral choices is pretty much the book equivalent to cake for me, especially is cake could make me rethink some of my choices in life. This is a deep cake. Steven Erikson is hugely well-known for his chunky epic fantasy with the Malazan Book Of The Fallen series and despit It’s so nice when you get offered a chance to review a book you’ve already had your eye on for a while and have already preordered, Rejoice A Knife to the Heart with its super advanced alien A.I, Sci-fi writer main character and moral choices is pretty much the book equivalent to cake for me, especially is cake could make me rethink some of my choices in life. This is a deep cake. Steven Erikson is hugely well-known for his chunky epic fantasy with the Malazan Book Of The Fallen series and despite dipping his toe into the sci-fi before Rejoice represents his first full-length work in the genre. At just over four hundred pages it’s considerably smaller than his fantasy contributions but no less impressive and thought-provoking, just in a very different way. For one thing, other than a few explosions there are not many action filled moments usually present in the genre owing to the fact that humans find themselves unable to commit any violent acts but we do still get the same sharp wit and intelligence which seems to be Erikson’s signature. Cake may be the wrong analogy for this book I feel, Rejoice is closer to a piece of contemporary art in that it may not be to everyone’s tastes but if you get it then you really feel the heart of the piece and can appreciate it more. This is a hard book to read, it’s difficult to really fall into it completely I find as the sheer amount of characters and the changes between them can be a little jarring and I had trouble remembering anyone’s names other Samantha and Adam the A.I but they did have memorable traits and quite often embodied people we see or have seen in our own society, (the president of the United States was a particularly scary example. I found the character development we did get very interesting and I particularly liked the interactions we had between Samantha and Adam especially. This book is for the most part almost completely dialogue which took a little while to get used to but when I realised this was the case it became a much easier read as I wasn’t waiting for unimportant surrounding details etc because what really mattered were the interactions. The deeper reason some may have trouble with this book is the startling truth behind it. The idea that we are slowly destroying our planet and ourselves is not a new one that now has an overwhelming amount of information to back it up. We do not have infinite space and resources etc and we often exist only for what we can do for ourselves, the notion of the rich get richer and the poor stay poor for example, not to mention deforestation, pollution, killing off entire species of animals and more. This can be a scary truth and I believe the antagonist in this book is represented by our own actions as a species rather than any one person. Erikson really had his work cut out for him with this novel, unable to create tension using most normal avenues that require the threat of violence or harm but instead does so though philosophical debate. Rejoice is intelligent, and a hugely thought-provoking book that tackles a lot of very real problems the human race faces every day in a distinctly sci way but one I feel will be fairly divisive. It can be a bit much at times if your brain isn’t switched on fully (I do not recommend reading this before bed or too early in the morning, I read the same paragraph eight times last night). This is a book that needs full attention and concentration to get the full effect and I can see that some might find it a little much or not explosive enough when compared with a lot of the sci-fi we see today. However, it is still a startlingly sharp, thought-provoking read and an interesting take on the first contact story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Victor

    This is a review of an ARC I received from Lenore Kennedy and the book's publishers. I've been trying to craft a review for this in my head in the past two days since I finished reading it. I'm really of two minds of this thing. If you've followed my Goodreads at all you'll know I'm a fan of Erikson's Malazan work. His prior foray into sci-fi, the Star Trek satire Willful Child, I found abysmal. As sci-fi this book succeeds a lot more than Willful Child. The more serious tone also better befits E This is a review of an ARC I received from Lenore Kennedy and the book's publishers. I've been trying to craft a review for this in my head in the past two days since I finished reading it. I'm really of two minds of this thing. If you've followed my Goodreads at all you'll know I'm a fan of Erikson's Malazan work. His prior foray into sci-fi, the Star Trek satire Willful Child, I found abysmal. As sci-fi this book succeeds a lot more than Willful Child. The more serious tone also better befits Erikson's style. He's prone to philosophical ramblings with some bits of humor. It's a better balance here. Okay, so Erikson tackles a classic sci-fi story: the first contact. A trio of advanced alien societies from our galaxy come to Earth in the next decade or so to stop humans from ruining shit. Great premise. Things get going very quickly. The aliens create a bunch of force-fields that disrupt human misuse of land and animals. Then the alien force-fields begin to prevent violence. Suddenly humanity has to figure out what to do without hurting each other. This is great fun. And very well-realized. Once these things are set in place, Erikson takes us on a tour of various people and their reactions. This is kind of where the book starts to let me down. We see the inept successor to Trump being an even bigger ignorant buffoon than Trump himself. We see an Elon Musk analog adapting to the new technology the aliens introduce. Simon Gist however does not have a meltdown on Twitter. We see an IDF soldier become best friends with a Palestinian barista in a hilarious misrepresentation of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We see a warlord in Africa lose grips with himself after having no quick solution to problems, AKA murder. And yes, he does have an enslaved girl tagging along with him. And there are a ton more little vignettes I don't really have time for here. So what do they all add up to? Erikson really wanted to bring in this idea of humanity transitioning to a more positive, communal sense of living. No capitalism. No money. No more rat race or violence or anything. What does that leave people? Erikson thinks people will start to work together, head to Mars and Venus. It's a nice thought. The part that's not a nice thought is thinking that the only way humanity is going to get right is alien intervention. I don't really think Erikson is that cynical, but that's certainly what comes across. The political side of this book shows a kind of interesting take. It's certainly on the left side of things, which is kind of cool. But there's also a kind of naivete here. Real change can happen without aliens. It would definitely be easier if violence was impossible. In addition to that, a lot of the vignettes fall short. They don't feel completely realized. Some of them take place with a vast chunk of the book between them, so its easy to forget some of the large cast of characters. The central concept and the story of Samantha August is what really ties the book together. The idea that science fiction authors and creative people in general become very important is quite fun. Empathy and creativity prioritized over profit. That's neat. But there are a lot of other little bits that don't quite fit in. Chunks that either needed further refinement or to just be cut out entirely. The IDF soldier and the news guy Murdo and the Adonis brothers, the warlord guy, uh. Well, most of them really. All that said, I really enjoyed chewing through this. There are a lot of good little jokes. Some serious insights into the human experience. Some extra flab that could have been cut. I hope Erikson will continue to experiment in the sci-fi genre. He's definitely got some interesting things to say that sci-fi is great for exploring.

  18. 4 out of 5

    John

    I don't feel like I gave this book the attention it deserves. My reading was too disjointed, too spread out, and it really demands sustained attention (as, frankly, most of Erikson's writing does). But where I think it's easy-ish to appreciate his Malazan Book of the Fallen series on a variety of levels, from action-packed fantasy to deep psychological and philosophical exploration, Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart doesn't have much at the surface level. The situation is this: it's a First Contact I don't feel like I gave this book the attention it deserves. My reading was too disjointed, too spread out, and it really demands sustained attention (as, frankly, most of Erikson's writing does). But where I think it's easy-ish to appreciate his Malazan Book of the Fallen series on a variety of levels, from action-packed fantasy to deep psychological and philosophical exploration, Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart doesn't have much at the surface level. The situation is this: it's a First Contact novel without aliens. Instead they send an AI with super-advanced technology to manage The Intervention. Basically, we've screwed up royally, wrecking or ecosystem. The aliens are here to save the ecosystem and--if we can get our shit together--maybe it's, too. With good-like tech, they're able to stop all violence on Earth, stop all our destruction of the environment, and end scarcity. One of the choices Erikson makes its to use a pretty big cast of POV characters. None of them gets deep development, and (especially with my own disjointed reading) it can be hard to keep them straight or get invested in them. The flip side, though, is that we see these events, with their profound implications for the whole planet, through the eyes of characters from all across the globe, and from all levels from world leaders and thought leaders to the uneducated poor. The scope is vast, and that's both a strength and a weakness. I feel like it would absolutely merit a re-read, but right now I need to move on. So many books, so little time.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael T Bradley

    Well, that's frustrating. This is the first Erikson book I've read that's ever let me down. At first I had a little difficulty getting into this book, I think simply because of the ... jetlag (?) ... of reading a non-fantasy Erikson story. I kept wondering, "Where is this Canada in relation to Australia, I wonder?" then feeling like an idiot. That passed after 15 minutes or so. Once I got into it, I really enjoyed Stage 1 (of 5) of the alien invas--sorry, INTERVENTION. The setup is great. Basica Well, that's frustrating. This is the first Erikson book I've read that's ever let me down. At first I had a little difficulty getting into this book, I think simply because of the ... jetlag (?) ... of reading a non-fantasy Erikson story. I kept wondering, "Where is this Canada in relation to Australia, I wonder?" then feeling like an idiot. That passed after 15 minutes or so. Once I got into it, I really enjoyed Stage 1 (of 5) of the alien invas--sorry, INTERVENTION. The setup is great. Basically, this is a huge thought exercise, wherein we take the idea of an alien invasion, but take away the aliens, and force people to look to their better angels. I LOVED this premise, and was really excited about it. I loved that midway through part 1, when the planet-saving force fields are put into place, and people aren't allowed to commit violence of any kind, I was thinking, 'this is so original! where will it go from here?' The problem is, it ... doesn't go anywhere. Stages 2-5 are MOSTLY just people talking to each other. Which would be FINE, if they had anything interesting to say. We follow a lot of different people from various backgrounds throughout the book, and maybe ... two of them? ... said anything interesting. The MUCH bigger problem is that Erikson pretty quickly introduces the fact that Greys, basically aliens like the ones in X-Files, are real and a different threat. Having this weird element tossed into the mix somewhat ruined the main point, I think. I was like, if nobody's gonna DO anything, let's get to the Grey fighting! I kept this at two stars because the premise and the first 150 pages or so are just phenomenal. After that, meh, I found very little worthwhile.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    3.5 rounded up, may get rounded down. The characters are stock, the book is preachy philosophy, but the concept is terrific.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Crane

    This is very much "message fiction". Now, it just so happens I agree with the message being told, for the most part. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that I don't buy a science-fiction novel to read a political screed. I don't mind my sci-fi addressing politics or social injustices, not at all (gimme that Ann Leckie and Rivers Solomon!) but this isn't that. This is a blog rant couched as a novel. The narrative consists almost entirely of two kinds of scene. A) Thinly veiled caricatures This is very much "message fiction". Now, it just so happens I agree with the message being told, for the most part. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that I don't buy a science-fiction novel to read a political screed. I don't mind my sci-fi addressing politics or social injustices, not at all (gimme that Ann Leckie and Rivers Solomon!) but this isn't that. This is a blog rant couched as a novel. The narrative consists almost entirely of two kinds of scene. A) Thinly veiled caricatures of contemporary political or corporate figures twirl their moustaches. B) The author's self-inserts pontificate about how awful corporate capitalism is and/or how awesome it is that aliens are putting an end to our terrible ways. I mean, I get it! Really, I agree with almost all the points Erikson makes! But he doesn't make them well. If you agree with him, you'll find it tedious. If you disagree with him, you'll find it unconvincing. It's just so incredibly heavy-handed, and the Trump/Putin/Murdoch analogues so offensively obvious that it may as well not be a novel at all. (Bizarrely, Xi Jinpeng escapes censure and is instead presented as an ultra-progressive visionary who promptly accepts the alien intervention with no apparent qualms, ostensibly because of the differences between "Eastern and Western thinking", which seems more than a little racist.)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diana Davis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The premise of this book sounded very interesting but I was ultimately disappointing. Part of the disappointment was that the aliens were presented as a Deus ex Machina. An outside force come to save humanity from our own failings. One of the things the aliens did was prevent violence. It became impossible for any person to hurt another person. My first thoughts on reading that were all of the places that I, as a women, cannot safely go and things that I cannot safely do. Like walk around in a s The premise of this book sounded very interesting but I was ultimately disappointing. Part of the disappointment was that the aliens were presented as a Deus ex Machina. An outside force come to save humanity from our own failings. One of the things the aliens did was prevent violence. It became impossible for any person to hurt another person. My first thoughts on reading that were all of the places that I, as a women, cannot safely go and things that I cannot safely do. Like walk around in a strange city at night, go to a bar and drink without having to worry some guy is going to spike my drink when I'm not looking, walk to the car after a long week of work without having to keep my head up, shoulders squared and looking around alertly. The author, instead of reveling in the new found freedom most of society would enjoy, focused on the response of violent males to the inability to commit violence. Warlords, gun runners and violent husbands who all felt emasculated. I do not find these characters to be sympathetic and I cannot empathize with their point of view.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Luana

    I need to preface this review by saying that this book is probably not one for anyone who is staunchly right wing. It is unabashedly; socially liberal, environmentally conscious, a stalwart of social justice and anti any rampant economic inequality. I mean, I am pretty left wing and yet I at times was a bit worried that the story would be lost to the politics of the novel - it is only because of these moments, which caused me to surface from the storyline, that I reluctantly cannot give 'Rejoice I need to preface this review by saying that this book is probably not one for anyone who is staunchly right wing. It is unabashedly; socially liberal, environmentally conscious, a stalwart of social justice and anti any rampant economic inequality. I mean, I am pretty left wing and yet I at times was a bit worried that the story would be lost to the politics of the novel - it is only because of these moments, which caused me to surface from the storyline, that I reluctantly cannot give 'Rejoice' 5 stars even though it was also a rolicking fun read in addition to the message it carried. Erikson, definitely has a sense of playfulness that comes through in his treatment of language and ideas which results in maintaining a livelier read. This works well when exploring topics that in themselves are of a more earnest tone ensuring that they also have entertaining element, for instance when addressing the toxic nature of some types masculinity pressure: 'To date,' ventured Adam, pyschological breakdowns as a consequence of the new paradigm predominantly affect the male gender of your species.' 'Well, yeah. No kidding. They've got their own baggage, especially when it comes to being the breadwinner and protector, not to mention all that testosterone-fuelled one-upmanshit.' 'Is it not "ship?" As in one-upmanship?' 'No, it's "shit". Trust me. ... And thus one-upmanshit is also getting added to my linguistic repertoire For the reader, who enjoys speculative writing, centred on taking an event encounter with humanity (in this case alien interference in how we conduct our interactions with each other and the planet), and how we would react on an individual, group and national level, than this book has it. It also has the added amusement of not hesitating to incorporate some familiar character politics and what seem to be lightly veiled public figures, such as the U.S. President or a female Trudeau are recognisably drawn with a clever hand that doesn't overplay any feature to the point of slapstick. Instead we are given scenes such as the following: 'I knew it,' Raine Kent said, hands tightly curled into fists. 'This was all about shutting me down. Here I was, poised to change the world, poised to fix things. And what do I get? Stalin from space. That's what I get'. He paused and then pointed at Voilette. 'Hold on that. If the present deal falls through - the Canadian astronaut for access thing - if that falls through, we buy our way in. Agricorp. Soyabeans, corn, farmer shit-' 'The land is a ranch not a farm,' Diana pointed out. 'So fucking pigs and cows! The point is: we're getting in through that door. One way or another we're getting our hands on that ET tech. Morgan! Pay attention, dammit. How's the army corps of engineers getting along with our own fancy hi-tech super-complexes? 'Going fast, Mister President. All four sites are ahead of schedule. By the time we're done we'll have more empty rooms than all three alien complexes combined.' Raine Kent stared at the man, even as D.K. Prentice slowly put her hands over her face. Good God Almighty, Morgan West, you are one stupid man. But out loud, Raine Kent said, 'Right. Carry on'. '...Perhaps, however, the common Englishman is shall we say, used to being ruled by privileged twats, hmm?' Anatoli grunted. 'Return to Downton Abbey' 'Yes! Ghastly. If Russia did a version of that show, it would end with all their heads on pitchforks. In addition to humour and politics the novel also has scenes of characters coming to emotional terms with themselves and others, there are mini quests and journeys undertaken. However, when it came to showing examples of these, especially of the emotional moments I realised I only had taken pictures of the more humour bent passages - my focus my have been a bit one dimensional here.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart. So many aspects of this novel were utterly Steven Erikson; the title being the first example. As a huge fan of his Malazan series, there were certain expectations that I brought with me in my eagerness to read this, his most recent work. I expected smart, sharp writing. Complex and varied characters, who felt like real beings, reflected in their true-to-life dialogue. A theme of empathy and compassion. All of these things and more will you find in these pages. My e Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart. So many aspects of this novel were utterly Steven Erikson; the title being the first example. As a huge fan of his Malazan series, there were certain expectations that I brought with me in my eagerness to read this, his most recent work. I expected smart, sharp writing. Complex and varied characters, who felt like real beings, reflected in their true-to-life dialogue. A theme of empathy and compassion. All of these things and more will you find in these pages. My expectations were easily met; Erikson is a skilled writer. And he is pulling no punches in this, his message to humanity. This is a First Contact story that is utterly unlike other stories in the genre. You will find no world-conquering foe here; no annihilation-obsessed interstellar race. Recently, Denis Villeneuve's 'Arrival' brought us a fresh concept when it comes to an 'alien movie'. And I think with Rejoice, Erikson has brought us a fresh concept to the First Contact story; though unlike Arrival, you will see not one alien in this story. It's a unique take, and has far more to say about humankind than our extraterrestrial neighbors. Reading the character list alone is enough to clue readers in to the fact that this story examines the effects of an alien intervention on the world at large. We are treated to many different points of view, and many different characters all over our planet; many of which bear more than a little resemblance to their real-life counterparts (right down to Raine Kent, the president of the U.S., being an utter twit). Politicians, scientists, government officials, drunks on the street, multi-billionaires, warlords of the Congo, members of the IDF, religious officials, talk show hosts, doctors, bank robbers, those down on their luck, and those with more interest in the almighty dollar than in the lives of their fellow humans.. We see the effects of the Intervention through all of these eyes and more. And bearing witness to the social, cultural, economic, psychological, and of course philosophical effects of that Intervention, is interesting in a way that only Erikson can make it. Our main point of view is that of Science Fiction author Samantha August. I hestitate to say more about her role in the story, or to detail the Alien Intervention itself, because I think it's something that is more far satisfying to watch unfold without knowing what's going to happen. At its heart Rejoice is an examination of what happens to humankind when we are stripped of all those things that makes us feel comfortable, righteous, safe. That make us feel powerful; make us feel free. It is a huge red flag; a challenge to the convictions of the West. It is Steven Erikson standing over your shoulder with an enormous megaphone shouting, 'Wake up!!'. It is a call to action that has thus far fallen on mostly deaf ears, and it is a reminder for those that have heeded the call to continue to do so, to continue to push forward in unification and love. We must as a species end our short-term thinking, and realize that this planet and its resources are far from infinite. And we must remain compassionate in our thinking, and cultivate attitudes and convictions that lead to inclusion and awareness, rather than separateness and greed. Erikson has supplied us with yet another great story. I could see him returning to this IP in the future, but the story and message are also self-contained enough for any reader to be satisfied by book's end. That being said.. (view spoiler)[it would be really cool to return to just to see whether humanity got its shit together or not. Especially because the alien triumvirate was basically setting humanity up to be a sort of galactic watchdog, with their first task being the hunting of the Greys. (hide spoiler)] Whatever he decides to do.. I'll be reading.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ross Thompson

    *** Disclosure - I received a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *** I have been planning on reading Erikson's Malazan series for some time but have yet to take the plunge. Getting approval to read Erikson's new sci-fi book gave me the chance to experience his writing style without such a big commitment. The book itself feels like a short sci-fi story where Canadian sci-fi author Samantha August is abducted by aliens and is shown how the alien race are h *** Disclosure - I received a free advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *** I have been planning on reading Erikson's Malazan series for some time but have yet to take the plunge. Getting approval to read Erikson's new sci-fi book gave me the chance to experience his writing style without such a big commitment. The book itself feels like a short sci-fi story where Canadian sci-fi author Samantha August is abducted by aliens and is shown how the alien race are helping the human race, in order to keep Earth safe for their future use. The aliens start to implement a number of changes in the planet, and other planets in the solar system, in order to protect the human race, and Earth itself, from their inbuilt self-destructive nature. Despite these improvements (no violence, drugs or alcohol, replenished food stocks and animal populations) the human race do what we do best - look past the surface benefits with suspicion to find the underlying threat and to use it to further our own selfish goals. This short is then padded out with more in-depth insight from a large cast of characters - the leaders of a large number of countries, Murdoch-esque media oligarchs, and a range of former arms dealers and warlords. Their insights give the book a feel like World War Z, where the same story is told from a number of different viewpoints to give the varying angles and opinions. While this does add to the overall story (where Samantha's chapters focus on the high level changes and reactions, we are treated to some localised insights), most of these characters are pretty throwaway and don't really seem to have a distinct voice. The book itself is very heavy-going, with very detailed in-depth analysis of the political, religious, ideological, economic and sociological issues being faced by the human race when such an intrusion, though a beneficial one, is experienced. This is not a book one can pick up for short periods or read when tired, it really does take some effort to concentrate to get the most out of it. While it was an interesting take on how such a good thing would likely be ruined by human nature, the narrative was quite detrimental to the overall piece.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aric

    *** Story ***** Ideas Let me begin by saying that Steven Erikson is my current favorite author. So I came to Rejoice with high expectations. I wish I could say that they were met, but I'll have to work harder than that to describe my reading experience. This book was a slow starter, and not gripping in the way I had hoped. I really liked how it ended, but it took a long time to get in gear. Readers tend to want a balance of action, dialogue, and description, and this book didn't strike the balance *** Story ***** Ideas Let me begin by saying that Steven Erikson is my current favorite author. So I came to Rejoice with high expectations. I wish I could say that they were met, but I'll have to work harder than that to describe my reading experience. This book was a slow starter, and not gripping in the way I had hoped. I really liked how it ended, but it took a long time to get in gear. Readers tend to want a balance of action, dialogue, and description, and this book didn't strike the balance that I was looking for. Steven Erikson, in interviews, has said this book was easier to write than his fantasy novels, because it uses contemporary characters and settings. But unfortunately, that meant his formidable skills at characterization and description were notably absent. By leaning heavily on dialogue, and characters that are analogues for household names, it came off more as a 465-page treatment for a TV series than a novel with round characters that "breathe" and stick with you after you close the back cover. That's unfortunate, because it could have been much better. (Even though the denial/interruption of human violence takes certain plot elements off the table, Erikson could have shown a lot more inner conflict, more failed attempts to subvert the alien intervention protocol, etc.) That said, this is a Novel of Ideas, and the ideas here are big, challenging, and central. That is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. If you reject the scientific consensus on climate change, you will hate it. If you are interested in preserving and rehabilitating the environment, this will give you a lot to chew on. I recommend it for some readers, and wish it were compelling enough to encourage everyone to wrestle with the ideas found in it. Maybe, in an ideal scenario, this will get picked up for TV, and the writers room will add in the missing action and character development that I would have liked to see....

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alyssa Grace

    "Every fiction author knows that wish fulfilment is a dangerous thing. Being the hero of your own story sounds great, but in an honest tale, hell is just around the corner." Rejoice is Steven Erikson's wish fulfilment. It's no coincidence that the protagonist is a provocative, intellectual science-fiction author handpicked from a field of seven billion people to save the world. To his credit, Erikson does a fine job of capturing the hell around the corner. And what hell is that? The hell, of co "Every fiction author knows that wish fulfilment is a dangerous thing. Being the hero of your own story sounds great, but in an honest tale, hell is just around the corner." Rejoice is Steven Erikson's wish fulfilment. It's no coincidence that the protagonist is a provocative, intellectual science-fiction author handpicked from a field of seven billion people to save the world. To his credit, Erikson does a fine job of capturing the hell around the corner. And what hell is that? The hell, of course, where violence is impossible. Everything from war to fossil fuels, gone--the only physical aggression that can be committed in the unfathomable new world is self-inflicted. This is thoughtful utopian fiction that works. It's slow-paced and can be very dense at times, more of an extended philosophical discussion than the thriller you might expect from first contact. The actual aliens never actually appear, and rightly so: Rejoice isn't about the aliens. It's about us. I loved following the massive range of characters as they found various ways of dealing with the new perfect reality. Quite a few of them are fictionalised versions of figures we all know and wonder what goes on behind the public personas. You'll easily spot Elon Musk, Putin, Xi Jinping and the like. It doesn't really matter that much whether Erikson gets them 'right'. Rejoice is first and foremost about exploring the possibilities, imagining the human resistance and forced adaptation, in a planet robbed of arguably our greatest common denominator. *Thanks to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.* My Blog

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brad Kirk

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book given that my only experience with Erikson's writing is his magnum opus series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, which falls squarely in the fantasy genre. But I found that I really loved this book. I've never been a fan of really hard sci-fi (with a few exceptions) and so I was pleased that this book, while definitely a sci-fi book, generally deals with the human condition on our planet basically as it exists now. The plot is largely a device for Eriks I wasn't sure what to expect from this book given that my only experience with Erikson's writing is his magnum opus series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, which falls squarely in the fantasy genre. But I found that I really loved this book. I've never been a fan of really hard sci-fi (with a few exceptions) and so I was pleased that this book, while definitely a sci-fi book, generally deals with the human condition on our planet basically as it exists now. The plot is largely a device for Erikson's musings and commentary on such topics today as, political partisanship, scarcity vs post-scarcity economics (including how capitalism fits into that), human nature, the environment and the impact humans have had on our biosphere over our history. This is a novel about a potential First Contact situation but which, surprisingly, has very little to do with aliens and very much to do with the human condition. I have a general feeling that the people who would dislike this book the most would do so because of their inability to entertain a discussion which is so obviously critical of certain aspects of American culture, our current political climate, and many aspects of capitalism and how it is used to justify our ill-treatment of not only our planet, resources, and animals, but also our fellow humans. Another reviewer of this book stated, "The worst thing about this book is that it will never happen." I thought that was a really good review, haha. I definitely recommend this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is Steven Erikson's first foray into science fiction. It's a first contact story in which an alien ship abducts a citizen in broad daylight, then starts making drastic changes to Earth as an "Intervention" to save Earth's biome. The abductee (Samantha August) is intended to be the spokesperson for the aliens. The structure of the novel is in separate parts - the first the abduction, the middle is in the impact the changes on Earth are having on citizens, and the endi Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart is Steven Erikson's first foray into science fiction. It's a first contact story in which an alien ship abducts a citizen in broad daylight, then starts making drastic changes to Earth as an "Intervention" to save Earth's biome. The abductee (Samantha August) is intended to be the spokesperson for the aliens. The structure of the novel is in separate parts - the first the abduction, the middle is in the impact the changes on Earth are having on citizens, and the ending is Samantha's speech and the next steps for the Intervention. The author wanted to make the novel have some points of difference to it, and it does - for example having a respected SF author as the spokesperson (as opposed to a politician who will have ulterior motives and influences), makes sense and works well. The bulk of the novel (the middle section) that's describing the impact on citizens, is in effect a detailed study and philosophy on humanity and what drives us. There are some very interesting and intelligent issues raised, though I thought it dragged after a while and slowed the pace right down until near the end. The ending itself is abrupt and leaves it wide open for a second book. So overall I thought it was good - a pertinent commentary on humanity with a positive message - but the middle section was too slow and a bit of a let down for me, plus it would have been nice for more resolution at the end (though I guess if another book's coming it's understandable).

  30. 4 out of 5

    N. Gasieta

    This isn't as much a review as it is my thoughts. Is “Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart” just wishful thinking? Or is it a harsh wake up call for the rest of us. Is it a call to arms? Or is it a call to our innate compassion? An alien civilization dismantles every known human concept. There are no borders. Much as Draconus had etched in that stone in Forge of Darkness, the aliens hammer into everything: There Will Be Peace. Humans have to re-evaluate everything they believed in. No longer the custodians o This isn't as much a review as it is my thoughts. Is “Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart” just wishful thinking? Or is it a harsh wake up call for the rest of us. Is it a call to arms? Or is it a call to our innate compassion? An alien civilization dismantles every known human concept. There are no borders. Much as Draconus had etched in that stone in Forge of Darkness, the aliens hammer into everything: There Will Be Peace. Humans have to re-evaluate everything they believed in. No longer the custodians of the Earth. No longer able to express their emotions in the form of violence. No longer ... free. Emasculation in all but name. Erikson is the god of storytelling, and with his latest science fiction novel he proves that his talent knows no bounds. The question now isn't whether people will be offended by any of it; they will be. Nor is it whether any of what he wrote is plausible; it is. The question is whether we will learn anything from it. And I think the answer is a forgone conclusion already: no. Alter Bridge's The Last Hero is appropriate to quote here. “Can you hear the marching, beating of the drums? Once again the dogs are out for blood Words and accusations, history revised But time is gonna tell that you were right Oh how you tried I know that you tried To save us Save us”

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