Elder Race - book cover
Action & Adventure
  • Publisher : Tor.com
  • Published : 16 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 202
  • ISBN-10 : 1250768721
  • ISBN-13 : 9781250768728
  • Language : English

Elder Race

"A Ursula Le Guin-like grace... Ten out of 10." ―New York Times

In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Elder Race, a junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe.

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way.

But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she's an adult (albeit barely) with responsibilities (she tells herself). Although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it).

But Elder Nyr isn't a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, and his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon…

Editorial Reviews

"There's an Ursula Le Guin-like grace to [Tchaikovsky's] storytelling, to the shifting of cadences. Everything about this book suggests deliberate care in uniting epic fantasy's immersive world-building with the sharp, dislocating bursts of high-concept science fiction... Ten out of 10." ―New York Times

"[An] epic tale of a land ruled by magic―or the sober record of a world colonized by science...The double vision built into the story works well." ―Wall Street Journal

"[A] seamless blend of science fiction and fantasy... Recommended for lovers of portal fantasy, lost colony science fiction, and stories on the border between the two genres" ―Library Journal

"Tchaikovsky takes beloved tropes to exciting new places, carried by memorable characters and clever prose. This proves yet again why Tchaikovsky is a master of the genre mash-up." ―Publishers Weekly

Elder Race is a really fun novella, displaying Tchaikovsky's trademark sharp prose and big ideas conveyed in interesting ways." ―GrimDark Magazine

More Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky

"Picking up an Adrian Tchaikovsky book is proof you love your brain and want it to be happy." ―John Scalzi

"A great coming-of-age story that careens through a world so vividly realized that you can feel each insect bite and taste every acrid berry. The Expert System's Brother gives you that visceral eek of satisfaction as its pieces come into view then fit together with exacting precision. It's a smart story, smartly told." - Hugo Award winner, John Chu

"I loved it. A bold, vivid story about humanity and the broader universe. Should we mold the universe to suit us? Or should we mold ourselves to suit the universe? Adrian Tchaikovsky keeps these choices in tension, and kept me riveted to the page." - Ramez Naam, author of Nexus on The Expert System's Brother

"Children of Time is a joy from start to finish. Entertaining, smart, surprising and unexpectedly human." - Patrick Ness

"Brilliant science fiction and far out world building" - James McAvoy on Children of Time

"A refreshingly new take on post-dystopia civilizations, with the smartest evolutionary worldbuilding you'll ever read" - Peter F. Hamilton on Children of Time

"A magnificently imaginative space opera." - B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog on Children of Time

Readers Top Reviews

VPWHBDave GuilbaultD
Well-written charming tale of a princess who seeks out a wizard in his tower to save the realm from a nameless peril. Except that the wizard is really a genetically modified anthropologist from Earth sent to observe the baseline human settlers from an earlier colonization wave who have regressed to a primitive tech level with no knowledge of their scientific past except as legend and myth. The tale flows very smoothly and is a joy to read. There are no original ideas explored but that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes we just want the princess to succeed. Mental health is explored from an interesting perspective: if you could temporarily suppress crippling depression on and off at will how hard would it be to switch between these states given that motivations are drastically different on either side. Only downside is the novelette is very short. I would love to see more of the characters and the world which is very plausibly derived from a interstellar colonization.
Written with an omniscient POV, main character harbors memories of a prior encounter with the progenitor of the current story. As an anthropologist, his thought processes are incongruous with that of a scientist. Consider a modern person traveling 400 years in the past. Clashing sensibilities, hygiene, world view, social perspectives etc. perhaps in future iterations, it’ll be better.
I preordered this, which tells you how much I love Adrian Tchaikovsky. This reads like the best fairy tales. After all, science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from Magic. But Nyr, last of his kind, is meant to stand and watch, not interact. However, too much time has passed and he is lonely and confused. And then a princess arrives to take him on a quest. I loved it! I loved them both, but I really felt for Nyr, the Elder, the last of his kind, and I enjoyed how science and magic interacted here, and how language played it's own part. Very satisfying. I would be happy to read more set in this world.
Tereza Snyder
I hated to see Kindle's percentage-read increase so quickly: 10%…25%…55%…89%… then it was over. On one hand, way too soon: so many undescribed riches in world-building! so much detail summarized! On the other hand, not one extra word: no unfulfilled promises, no unnecessary diversions. A gem of a work.
He’s a scientist and a low-level one at that; she’s a fourth daughter of the queen, disdained for her dreams of heroes and magicians. In her, he sees an echo of a past warrior. In him, she sees an echo of the humanity he’s lost. He’s un-anchored, alone in time; she’s bound by a desperate desire to save her people. Her people don’t have faith in her; he has no people at all. Can he convince her that magic isn’t real? That there’s only science and understanding? Can she convince him that it is? That all it takes is believing? Only they can save the world or lose it. The tale really sucks you in, and the world and people keep you there. The world-building is immersive, the story captivating, and the personalities are distinct and relatable. Even more so, the underlying story of what it takes to overcome loss and depression - to go from simply continuing to actually living - is also mesmerizing. This is the first book I’ve read by Adrian Tchaikovsky, and I’ll definitely be reading more.