Let's start with the New York Times Book Review, as there's an Everfree review in today's paper. Not a rave, not a pan. The reviewer enjoyed the first section of the book (which Hal exclusively narrates), but didn't like the later narrators, calling them "flakier." She writes:
It's a shame Sagan doesn't stick with Hal a little longer; his gumshoe adages are entertaining, and they even provoke thought about, yes, world peace.
While I wish she'd embraced the entire book, as other reviewers have, I'm very glad Etelka Lehoczky got something out of it. Good writing should entertain and provoke, and--criticisms aside--that's what she thinks I've done.
In a recent blog entry, John Scalzi astutely points out that writers simply can't make everyone happy, so there's no use fretting about it: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. Also, precious little genre fiction ever gets reviewed at the New York Times; that paper has impressive circulation, and I'm thrilled to be one of the lucky few whose work is being recognized over there.
Hey, I wish I could read every science-fiction novel that passes my way, but sometimes I miss a few. Unfortunately, I came late to Nick Sagan's trilogy and began with Everfree, the final installment in a series that includes Idlewild (2003) and Edenborn (2004). If Everfree is any indication, I wish I had gotten in at the beginning, an oversight I plan to rectify.
It's great to see this, as I spent quite a few sleepless nights writing and rewriting to ensure that each of my novels could be experienced as a standalone, and not just as part of a series. I wanted readers to be able to pick up Everfree without having read the previous books, and then be compelled to seek those books out--I'm very happy to find that this is the case.
After setting up the premise of the novel, Mark concludes:
Sagan, who has dedicated the book to his late father, scientist and author Carl Sagan, has succeeded in creating a unique future, that, in light of the fears concerning bird flu and other communicable diseases, combines just the right amount of fear and wonder.
Last but not least, Pauline Finch at Bookreporter, who makes my day and then some with this opening:
Looking back in my mental trivia file, I'm struck by how prophetic Nick Sagan's first claim to fame turned out to be. No, I don't mean his being the son of the last century's most likeable astronomer, the late Carl Sagan. It's young Nick's voice saying, "Hello from the children of planet Earth" on a recording that is still traveling in distant space on NASA's Voyager 1. Those simple, welcoming words connect so powerfully with Sagan's recent emergence from the often thankless role of a Hollywood script and screen writer to become one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction.
"One of the most exciting new voices in science fiction" is huge praise, extremely flattering, and I'll try to live up to that assessment. After analyzing the plot and themes of Everfree, she writes:
Sagan brilliantly treads the thin ice of futuristic ethical comment, daring to propose scenarios that show us at our all-too-human worst, even as we cling to the shreds of social idealism.
But at the end of the review she takes me to task for not going further with the series:
And that's where the story just stops, leaving the reader on an unresolved chord of anticipation. So if this really was intended to conclude a trilogy, let's hope Sagan changes his mind. He may have become a victim of his own success, but there are far worse fates for a new author! Personally, I can't wait to hear more from his imaginative and quirky post humans.
That readers want more might be the best praise of all. I do have plans to return to these characters and this universe, but it's a juggling act as there are other stories I want to tell.