A Thousand Perfect Things
In this epic new work, the award-winning Kenyon, whose work has be compared to Larry Nivens and Stephen R. Donaldson, creates an alternate Earth in the 19th century. This Earth is ruled by two warring factions—scientific Anglica (England) and magical Bharata (India).
Tori Harding, a Victorian woman, whose heart aches to claim the legendary powers of the golden lotus, must leave her reasoned world behind and journey to Bharata. In pursuit of the golden lotus, Tori will be forced to brave its magics, intrigues, deadly secrets and haunted places, to claim her destiny and choose between two lovers in two irreconcilable realms.
As a great native insurrection sweeps the continent of Bharata—Tori will find the thing she most desires, beautifully flawed and more wonderfully strange than she could have ever dreamed.
Praise for A Thousand Perfect Things
"This has become my favorite of all Kay Kenyon's books. The science-driven men of Anglica have constructed a marvel of engineering-a bridge that crosses the ocean-but they don't understand the mystical forces they're facing in the dangerously seductive country of Bharata. As usual, Kenyon offers flawless world-building and a diverse cast of characters driven by conflicting and wholly believable desires. This is a rich, gorgeous, and marvelously detailed tapestry of a book."
-- Sharon Shinn, Author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs
"Kay Kenyon has once again created a world into which one blissfully disappears, replete with magic and monsters, romance and reigning dynasties, set upon the fragile social scaffolding of mid-nineteenth century England. The story is, literally and figuratively, a bridge between the mystical and the very real, with a young heroine who a delivers a deliciously vicarious ride. Brilliantly told with elegant yet occasionally jarring prose, A Thousand Perfect Things is a masterwork from the mind of one of our best authors of compelling alternate realities."
-- Larry Brooks, Author of Story Engineering
Author Kay Kenyon
Kay Kenyon is the author of eleven science fiction and fantasy novels, including A Thousand Perfect Things. She is the author of the critically acclaimed science fiction quartet, The Entire and The Rose. Bright of the Sky was among PW's top 150 books of 2007. The series has twice been shortlisted for the ALA Reading List awards and three times for the Endeavour Award. Four of her novels have been translated into French, Spanish and Czech. Along with her novels Tropic of Creation and Maximum Ice, two of the works in the quartet received starred reviews from PW.
Interview with the Author
1. What sparked your interest in becoming an author?
The world of books. As we're growing up, those of us who love books sometimes cross the line from "I want to Be there" (in the world of some book) to "I want to Do that!" You start to fall in love not only with books, but with the idea of weaving your own story. The long walk to the library in summer (hot and shimmery) and in winter (through glacial-like mounds of snow) was full of anticipation for me, and--sometime in there--began to be a time of dreaming up new worlds of my own.
2. Who are the authors that have inspired you the most?
At first it was Ursula Le Guin, Tolkien, Robert Silverberg. Then I fell in love with literary writers like Charlotte Bronte, Vladimir Nabokov, Margaret Atwood. These days, I am taking inspiration from Guy Gavriel Kay, Naomi Novik, George R.R. Martin, Ian McDonald, Kij Johnson, Neil Gaiman.
3. Are any of your characters' reflections of your own self or those you know?
I believe that almost all the characters I create live within me and draw upon aspects of myself. The author's great skill is not wordsmithing, but empathy. To write about believable other people, your characters, you dig down into . . . yourself. But if you're asking are any characters in this book acting out my own drives or issues, I would say two: My heroine Tori, and my ambiguous antagonist, Mahindra. Like me, they are subject to the dilemma of how to find happiness and balance in their passionate ambitions. How to balance the personal with the need to engage with the wider world. Their journeys are in opposite directions, but along that continuum they both learn the same things.
4. Was the idea for this book inspired by something in particular? Or did it just come from a sudden creative epiphany?
It came from a serendipity event: I was reading two books at once, Dry Storeroom #1, The Secret Life of the Natural History Museum, and Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. These worlds absolutely collided for me. Thus the story of a young botonist seeking the legendary golden lotus in an altered India of magic.
5. Did you yourself have an interest in botany before your Tori Harding? Or was this a "learn as you go" idea?
It was learn as I go. I read voraciously about Charles Darwin (the character Charles Littlewood, Tori's grandfather, is a tribute to him), Victorian science and the flora of India. I am naturally attracted to science, though! My first ten books were science fiction.
5. Anglica or Bharata?Oh, Bharata. I took liberties with both realms, but created Anglica (an altered England) as a somewhat dystopian society, focusing on the obsession with science to the detriment of spirit, emotion and sensuality. I think of myself as a fairly emotional person, and thus the restrictions and arrogance of Anglica are not for me. Bharata (an India of magic) is dangerous and with its own hierarchies that may exclude women. But its beauty, mystery and spiritual richness tips the scale.
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