Books in Translation, #3, Lesabéndio, by Paul Scheerbart

Lesabéndio: An Asteroid NovelLesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel by Paul Scheerbart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered this book from some end-of-the-year wrap-up, best books some person read in 2014, and I was fascinated, so I special-ordered it at my local bookstore.

In the beginning this book was so foreign that it was a significant amount of work to parse: the alien world, their bodies, their culture, their technologies… But once the work was put in, I turned a corner and absolutely loved this book, for reasons that are hard to describe. First of all, while there is struggle in this book, it is absolutely appropriate to call this a utopian novel, which is refreshing in this trend of dystopic fiction. Even when the characters and their dreams and visions are completely at odds, the care they take of each other is heart-warming. Also inspiring is that while the Pallasian industries totally change the nature of the asteroid that is their home, it’s not done in a destructive or exploitive way, and has nothing to do with personal gain, but in the name of art, beauty, and discovery.

The only thing that really drove me around the bend is that the word “star” in this novel is used for stars, but also sometimes planets, moons, and asteroids as well. A quirk of the translation? Or the original? It was a big part of why I struggled so much in the beginning to understand this book’s cosmology.

But overall, a wonderful book. Recommended to dreams and fans of philosophical sf.

View all my reviews

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