Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart
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.

Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart Details

TitleRejoice, A Knife to the Heart
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 1st, 2018
PublisherGollancz
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Aliens, Fiction

Rejoice, A Knife to the Heart Review

  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    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
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Lenore Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Marin Bratanov
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Adam Whitehead
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Vasil Kolev
    January 1, 1970
    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).
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  • Stella
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Annemieke / A Dance with Books
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest reviewRejoice, 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 reviewRejoice, 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.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Bennett Coles
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Hertzan Chimera
    January 1, 1970
    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!
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  • Jemma
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Victor
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up, may get rounded down. The characters are stock, the book is preachy philosophy, but the concept is terrific.
  • Ross Thompson
    January 1, 1970
    *** 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.
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  • Brad Kirk
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Tyler
    January 1, 1970
    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).
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  • N. Gasieta
    January 1, 1970
    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 bloodWords and accusations, history revisedBut time is gonna tell that you were rightOh how you triedI know that you triedTo save usSave us”
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  • Scott Waldie
    January 1, 1970
    Quite a shift from Erikson's jaw-dropping Malazan fantasy saga, one of the best I've ever read, or his previous sci-fi novel, 'Willful Child' which was a roguish, light-hearted romp. This one gets a little preachy for me as it uses an almost preposterously overpowered alien invasion to pull apart politics, religion and the many contemporary problems faced by our Earth cultures. To be fair, though, Steven is taking down a lot of different cultures evenly and meticulously. It does this through shi Quite a shift from Erikson's jaw-dropping Malazan fantasy saga, one of the best I've ever read, or his previous sci-fi novel, 'Willful Child' which was a roguish, light-hearted romp. This one gets a little preachy for me as it uses an almost preposterously overpowered alien invasion to pull apart politics, religion and the many contemporary problems faced by our Earth cultures. To be fair, though, Steven is taking down a lot of different cultures evenly and meticulously. It does this through shifting perspectives between media moguls, entrepreneurs, politicians, and most interestingly an arms dealer, all the while centering on the discourse between the aliens' AI workhorse and a popular Canadian science fiction author. An intriguing idea and a somewhat fresh 'first contact' novel, well written as is almost all of his work. A lot of the viewpoints felt like realistic reactions to the situation, but overall I wouldn't say I enjoyed this nearly so much as his thicker fantasy works. The alien perspective on humanity's shortcomings felt a little too easy, wishful thinking, even if it ultimately bears some sense.
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  • Aoife
    January 1, 1970
    A unique look at First Contact. I've never seen a book, movie or TV show handle it in quite this way. I liked seeing all the different points of view, although like other reviews I thought there were a lot of people to keep track of.I enjoyed this book and I'll happily read more in the series, because like many books nowadays it ended on an awful cliffhanger!Receiving an ARC did not affect my review in any way."Imagination is like a muscle. It requires exercise. Stay trapped in this world with a A unique look at First Contact. I've never seen a book, movie or TV show handle it in quite this way. I liked seeing all the different points of view, although like other reviews I thought there were a lot of people to keep track of.I enjoyed this book and I'll happily read more in the series, because like many books nowadays it ended on an awful cliffhanger!Receiving an ARC did not affect my review in any way."Imagination is like a muscle. It requires exercise. Stay trapped in this world with all its mundane necessities, and it won't be long before your imagination - the gift you were given in your childhood - atrophies, and when that happens, why, you've lost something precious that even nostalgia won't bring back to you, no matter how much you long for what was. With the death of your imagination, you lose wonder. But you need wonder. You need it to stay sane, and you need it to keep your heart from turning into stone."
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    "Samantha August, we are pacifists. Accordingly, we are imposing the equivalent of a cease-fire, world-wide. Aggression and destruction aimed against the environment, the fauna, and between humans, has now ended." With these words, the AI proxy for the alien presence begins its intervention with humans on behalf of the biome of the Earth and the wider universe. What will happen when violence against the other, subjugation, exploitation, and even secrecy, is denied us as a species? When our gover "Samantha August, we are pacifists. Accordingly, we are imposing the equivalent of a cease-fire, world-wide. Aggression and destruction aimed against the environment, the fauna, and between humans, has now ended." With these words, the AI proxy for the alien presence begins its intervention with humans on behalf of the biome of the Earth and the wider universe. What will happen when violence against the other, subjugation, exploitation, and even secrecy, is denied us as a species? When our governments and scientists are ignored, and a single female writer is our only voice... what is it that humanity will see in the mirror of its own grief? This is a powerful novel that wrestles with what it is to be human when we are robbed of all vice. Can we survive our own reflection? Is hope possible? This is a singular story for our time. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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  • Orláith
    January 1, 1970
    Originally posted at Despite never having read any of Stephen Erikson's previous books, I was incredibly excited to read Rejoice, I mean, did you read that synopsis?? This book is so incredibly different from any other sci-fi- novel I have encountered. It's incredibly character driven and I find that to be a welcome, if surprising, change.I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading some of the fantasy books written by the author.Thank you @gollancz for sending gifting me this free AR Originally posted at Despite never having read any of Stephen Erikson's previous books, I was incredibly excited to read Rejoice, I mean, did you read that synopsis?? This book is so incredibly different from any other sci-fi- novel I have encountered. It's incredibly character driven and I find that to be a welcome, if surprising, change.I really enjoyed it and I am looking forward to reading some of the fantasy books written by the author.Thank you @gollancz for sending gifting me this free ARC.
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  • Steve Wasling
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting premise, aliens turn up, hit the human race on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and say "No! Naughty species!"Nonsense but largely enjoyable wish-fulfilment nonsense, especially considering what is going on in the world today. Unfortunately my sinking feeling proved fairly accurate as it became less inclined towards being a semi serious SF novel and more tending towards spiritually inclined mystical rubbish. Possibly to be expected considering the author is most well known for An interesting premise, aliens turn up, hit the human race on the nose with a rolled up newspaper and say "No! Naughty species!"Nonsense but largely enjoyable wish-fulfilment nonsense, especially considering what is going on in the world today. Unfortunately my sinking feeling proved fairly accurate as it became less inclined towards being a semi serious SF novel and more tending towards spiritually inclined mystical rubbish. Possibly to be expected considering the author is most well known for an enormous popular fantasy series but disappointing all the same.
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  • Rick Lewis
    January 1, 1970
    I have been a fan of Erikson's work for a long time now (his Malazan series is my favorite series of books and contains some of my favorite books of all-time), so I was excited to see what his science fiction would look like and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. Erikson's style translates very well to this unique take on First Contact, and though I wasn't very interested in one or two of the characters, and a couple of references were a little much, the story, pacing, and wonderful philosoph I have been a fan of Erikson's work for a long time now (his Malazan series is my favorite series of books and contains some of my favorite books of all-time), so I was excited to see what his science fiction would look like and I have to say, I wasn't disappointed. Erikson's style translates very well to this unique take on First Contact, and though I wasn't very interested in one or two of the characters, and a couple of references were a little much, the story, pacing, and wonderful philosophizing AI really made the story fun and engaging.
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  • Lynne
    January 1, 1970
    The reviews on this one are right: If you want a book that's a flashy first-contact with explosions and aliens and all of that, this is not the book for you.But it is a great book!It takes an intensely philosophical and imaginative view on what a world without violence would look like from dozens of perspectives across the globe. It is a well-thought out thought experiment made with depth and concern for our future and political climate.And for that, I highly recommend it.
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  • Brad LaPlante
    January 1, 1970
    The bits where Erikson is playing with ideas and exploring the consequences of First Contact are really good. The bits where he indulges himself tearing down sock-puppets and strawmen of his political opponents are really difficult to get through. I loved the Malazan series, and I wanted to love this book - and there are parts that I do love! It's just the bits in between are hard to enjoy for me. So I'll cop out and just give it a middling grade.
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  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    I found this a hard read. There are some great ideas in this story, but I found myself buried in seemingly endless philosophical discussions. I get the point that the whole premise of the book is based around the worthiness or otherwise of the human race, and the reactions of the planet. This needs discussion, but, hey, I got so bored. Looks like part 2 coming soon.
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  • Frank
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this first contact novel.I thought the current politics was a bit heavy handed. I think this will date the book but I really enjoyed it. I read it in about 3 days. Fast fun read.
  • Steve Hunt
    January 1, 1970
    Pretty good near future forest contact sci fiIt's not to the same depth as his malazan world.But clever, well thought out, near future forest contact that questions a lot of things that we (particularly in the West) take for granted.
  • Fred
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! Loved this book. Best book I’ve read this year. I hope there will be sequels.
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