earthsea
I had been looking forward to rereading this. When I first read it, shortly after publication, the dystopian setting of a near-future USA torn apart by social conflict and religious extremism seemed a bit far-fetched; in these days of the Tea Party, Rick Santorum, the Citizen's United ruling and today's anticipated judgement on healthcare, it doesn't seem so unrealistic after all. I must say that the detail of the philosophical ideas of Lauren Olamina, the central character, rather sail past me - it's a compassionate, pro-technology belief system, which I think is all you need to know. But basically this is a story of a community carefully built and brutally destroyed, of bigotry and violence eventually overcome at huge personal costs. The humanity of the tale and the vivid detail of the setting are the ingredients which make it remarkable.

Parable of the Talents won the 2000 Nebula for Best Novel. The other nominees which I have read are Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division, George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, and Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky (which won that year's Hugo). The other two, which I haven't read, were Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh and Mockingbird by Sean Stewart. I reckon this is one of those years when the Nebulas recognised a novel that thoroughly deserved it.

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