Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Excerpt: The Sound of Peace

Now Playing: Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn - The Avatar's Love (Avatar: The Last Airbender OST)

[Introduction].

This is a gigantic book. Bunch of characters, bunch of conflicts, a million scenes, backstories, battles, political unrest, moments of introspection, etc, etc. Trying to find the One Solid Standalone Scene from such a complicated book is next to impossible, especially because everything builds on itself in The Grace of Kings in a way I hadn't quite encountered in other books.

But it's because everything just builds and builds and builds that, as soon as you reach the end, you feel this sense of relief. Things start to settle down. After such a complicated series of events, closing into a peaceful, quiet moment is all the more powerful.

Plus, this is a nice scene. Before I went into the book, I had in my mind an idea of how the prose would be, and then it turned out to be more inviting than I had presumed. Formal without trying to be too complex and alienating. It lets the reader focus on the action rather than the words.

This is near the end of the book, so I'll say it's a slight spoiler warning? Nothing too big, though. Like I said, just a nice, quiet moment.

As Luan Zya strolled through the streets of Ginpen he watched and listened: Young scholars earnestly debated philosophy in bars; mothers window-shopped with babies strapped to their backs, chanting the times table or the simpler Ano Classics; the great doors of long-shuttered private academies were open, revealing servants sweeping and washing the floors of lecture halls to prepare them for new students. 
He arrived at the site of his ancestral estate. The ruins remained undisturbed, but he saw that wildflowers were blooming in the nooks and crannies of the fallen stones: dandelion, butter-and-eggs, fireweed, columbine, chicory. . . . 
He knelt among the broken stones, and the bright sun warmed his face. He closed his eyes and listened, and all around him was the sound of peace.
- Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
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