Fantastic Fiction: A Classic, Reissued
What if the Reformation never happened, the Roman Catholic Church rules over the Western world, and all forms of technology save for steam engine are forbidden? Keith Roberts's Pavane (Old Earth Books, $17) depicts this alternative history through a series of six loosely interconnected stories, followed by a coda. The characters range from a heretic monk to a Lady who sets in motion a revolution. This 1968 science fiction classic has recently been reissued in a lovely deckle-edged edition and reviewed by Michael Dirda, who called it "one of the most thought-filled, a book with the glowing but somber majesty of a stained-glass window, constructed from the most disparate bits and fragments, from the tesserae of multiple lives." It is an exquisite work of fiction that transcends genre, and I would recommend it even if science fiction is not your usual fare. It is the book to read slowly, savor, and contemplate.
- Ellie Bogomazova