Too Like the Lightning

Too Like the Lightning

3.86 (3,731 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the winner of the 2017 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Ada Palmer's 2017 Compton Crook Award-winning political science fiction, Too Like the Lightning, ventures into a human future of extraordinary originality

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer--a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world's population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life...
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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 38.1mm | 589.67g
  • Tor Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0765378000
  • 9780765378002
  • 127,056

About Ada Palmer

ADA PALMER is a professor in the history department of the University of Chicago, specializing in Renaissance history and the history of ideas. Her first nonfiction book, Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance, was published in 2014 by Harvard University Press. She is also a composer of folk and Renaissance-tinged a capella music, most of which she performs with the group Sassafrass. Her personal site is at, and she writes about history for a popular audience at and about SF and fantasy-related matters at

The third book of her Terra Ignota series, The Will to Battle, will be released December 2017.
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Review quote

Praise for Too Like the Lightning:

"[An] awe-inspiring debut novel....It's a genius kind of energy, and it's infectious." --NPR on Too Like the Lightning

"The best science fiction novel I've read in a long while, and it stands as powerful evidence that the sf genre is still a treasure box overflowing with wonders." --Robert Charles Wilson

"This is the kind of science fiction that makes me excited all over again about what science fiction can do. Lots of books can knock you over and leave you reeling and dazzled when you're fifteen, but it takes something special to do the same thing to you at fifty. Too Like The Lightning and its sequels do that, over and over again." --Jo Walton

"Thought-provoking, disturbing, occasionally perverted, and always entertaining. Worldbuilding at its richest." --Kirkus, starred review, on Too Like the Lightning

"Palmer has done a brilliant job with the pacing and keeping us in the close confidences of such a charming and deceitful narrator. The book seems like it burst onto the page fully formed." --Wired

Praise for Seven Surrenders:

"Palmer crafts one of the most compelling narrative voices around in describing this impossible, fascinating and plausibly contradictory world." --RT Book Reviews, 4-1/2 stars

"The eloquence of Palmer's reflections on social issues cannot be denied." --Library Journal, starred review

"Many-layered and engrossing." --Publishers Weekly
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Rating details

3,731 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 34% (1,285)
4 34% (1,273)
3 19% (717)
2 8% (310)
1 4% (146)
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