Saturday, May 10, 2008

The last volume of the Marq'ssan Cycle

It's done. The last volume of the Marq'ssan Cycle, Stretto, has arrived here from the printer. I feel as though I ought to be celebrating, ought to have finally, after more than twenty years, a sense of closure. And yet, instead I'm experiencing the same flatness I always feel a day or two after I've finished writing a novel. The feeling is too complicated to articulate easily. Why is it, I wonder, that (for me, anyway) elation lies in the writing process itself-- especially as I'm beginning a novel? I suppose that elation lies in the magic of possibility, the magic of stepping into a new world, never before explored. Finishing means closing the door on that world, so that all future exploration will be strictly private, inside one's own head...

But I'm supposing to be announcing that Stretto is back from the printer, not talking about my feelings. Here's the deal: Stretto its available now through Aqueduct's site for a special pre-release price of $15. The official release date is July 1, by which time it should be available at all the usual venues. Here's a brief description:

Stretto, the grand finale of the Marq'ssan Cycle, weaves together the major threads of the Marq'ssan story and encourages readers, as Joan Haran says, "to write beyond the ending." The novel, like the series as a whole, inquires Whose world is it? and shows several possible ways of answering the question through the respective perceptions and perspectives of the novel's five viewpoint characters: Alexandra Sedgewick, heir to the Sedgewick estate; Anne Hawthorne, Security operative; Hazel Bell, subversive activist; Celia Espin, human rights lawyer; and Emily Madden, star pupil of the maverick Marq'ssan, Astrea l Betut san Imu. As always, never predictable, never finished, the consequences of all that has gone before continues to play out.

Joan Haran wrote this blurb:
The final volume in the Marq'ssan series will encourage its readers to write beyond the ending. There are no gift-wrapped resolutions or easy redemptions on offer, rather there is a clear-sighted focus on the always-unfolding consequences-intended and unintended-of personal and political action taken. This is a series that is deeply invested in social transformation while resisting any temptation to consolation. As a resolute utopian, I see this as a hopeful strategy.

And here is a chunk of Donald D'Ammassa's review:
Like its predecessors, this is very much a novel of ideas and personal relations rather than of action or adventure. The author is more interested in the clash of ideas than in describing pitched battles in the streets of Washington. If you enjoy books designed to stimulate thought as well as entertain you, Duchamp's speculations about the forms of government and the ways in which people in power interact should prove very rewarding.

About the series, Jeff Vandermeer said a few weeks ago that it "is the most important political SF published in the last decade. Praised by the likes of Cory Doctorow and Samuel Delany, Duchamp's accomplishment here is deadly, sharp, emotional, and intelligent."

The first forty-seven pages, by the way, can be read here.

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