The Memory of Whiteness, by Kim Stanley Robinson. A TOR book, first mass-market printing 1986. 351 pp. $3.50. This fantasy takes us on a magical mystery tour of the music of the spheres, whose notes are the quanta (glints) in a symphony of life that began with the Big Bang.
A far-out, one-man computer band named Johannes Wright plays it (or is played by it) and a cult of sunstruck fanatics tries to stop the music as the Holywelkin Orchestra and critic Dent Ios tour a solar-system whose interlingua is song: Everybody has an instrument and a part to play.
No music-loving reader will be able to resist this intellectual whodunit; it has its share of slow-motion passages, of course, but what ambitious composition does not? Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. A TOR book: first mass-market printing 1986. 357 pp. $3.50.
A prize-winning 1977 novella has been transformed into an even more powerful book about war, that ranges in topic from reflex-training video games to combat between our inner- and other-directed selves.
The military decisionmakers, in their terrible isolation booth of responsibility, build the ultimate weapon as we watch; we are not, it seems, the only dangerous species prowling the stars. Painfully and step by step, in compressed emergency time, we train for battle with Ender and his crew as he learns to be student and teacher, brother and friend, child and adult, follower and leader.
This book provides a harrowing look at the price we pay for trying to mold our posterity in our own aggressive image of what we believe is right.