The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord (book review).

When I began reading Karen Lord’s “The Blue, Beautiful World,” I initially wondered if the story matched the description provided by the publicist’s promotional material. The narrative follows the life of popular singer Owen, who lives in the near future and uses virtual reality to broadcast his performances.

The story delves into the complexities of privacy and celebrity status, which seemed quite removed from the promised theme of alien first contact. It’s only later in the book that we discover—without giving too much away—that Owen and his entourage are actually aliens in disguise. However, aside from their masks, it’s unclear what their purpose on Earth is. They certainly aren’t revealing themselves to humans, so it doesn’t qualify as a first-contact scenario.

Even three-quarters of the way through the book, I’m still trying to figure out their ultimate goal. Much of the narrative consists of chit-chat that offers little direction.

Strangely, that’s about it. There’s mention of minor events, but nothing of significant impact, and none of the characters come across as major players in the story. It’s only when you reach the end of the book that you find references to a couple of other works and a breakdown of the cast list, which feels more like window-dressing than anything else.

I’m left with the impression that I may not be the target audience for this book. Similarly, if you’re looking for something groundbreaking in the science fiction genre, this book probably won’t meet your expectations. Given the scarcity of compelling new science fiction releases, I took a chance on this one but ultimately found it lacking. It’s disappointing, especially since there’s a pressing need for better science fiction at the moment.

GF Willmetts

August 2023

(pub: Gollancz. 245 page hardback. Price: £20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-3996-1886-1)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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