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Vintage Treasures: Neverness by David Zindell

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 | Posted by John ONeill

Neverness David Zindell-back-small Neverness David Zindell-small

David Zindell was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1986. His space opera trilogy A Requiem for Homo Sapiens (The Broken God, The Wild, and War in Heaven) received plenty of attention in the mid-90s, including a Clarke Award nomination for the opening novel. He also produced a six-book fantasy series, the EA Cycle, but it was not as well received, and only three volumes were ever released in the US.

Much of his reputation today, in fact, comes from his debut novel Neverness, which won instant and wide acclaim. Edward Bryant called it a “Feat of universe crafting [that] propels him instantly into the big leagues with the likes of Frank Herbert and Ursula K. Le Guin.” Kirkus Reviews said “Zindell succeeds brilliantly… in his convincing portrayal of what a super-intelligent being might be like…. Vastly promising work.” And on the basis of this single novel, Gene Wolfe proclaimed Zindell “One of the finest talents to appear since Kim Stanley Robinson and William Gibson — perhaps the finest.”

Zindell has not published a book in the US since The Silver Sword in 2007. His literary career has prospered far better in the UK, however, and his most recent novel, The Idiot Gods, was released across the pond by HarperVoyager in July 2017. It does not yet have a US release date.

Neverness was published by Bantam Spectra in July 1989. It is 552 pages, priced at $4.95. It was reprinted multiple times in the UK by Grafton and HarperCollins, but only once in the US, in a self-published edition in 2015. The wraparound cover of the Spectra version is by Don Dixon.

3 Comments »

  1. ‘Neverness’ is a classic – thought-provoking, intelligent, and with a nice twist at the end. It was the first in a trilogy but (I reckon) the best of the three. I re-read it recently and then googled Zindell. He has an interesting sideline: he scored 800 on the math section of the SAT and now coaches students to do the same.

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - December 6, 2017 11:07 am

  2. > It was the first in a trilogy but (I reckon) the best of the three.

    Aonghus,

    You mean the The Broken God, The Wild, and War in Heaven? ISFDB lists them as being a separate trilogy, though in the same universe. They didn’t seem to get as much attention as NEVERNESS. Did you enjoy them?

    > he scored 800 on the math section of the SAT and now coaches students to do the same.

    That’s fascinating! Several of the reviews I read mentioned the neat mathematical underpinnings of NEVERNESS. You don’t often get to read great SF about math!

    Comment by John ONeill - December 6, 2017 11:22 am

  3. Oops! Apologies. Neverness is a prequel to the trilogy. My problem with ‘Requiem’ was the mc – a noble savage-type character called Danlo – who really got on my nerves.

    Zindell subsequently switched over to writing fantasy, which I reckon was kind of a pity (not that I ever read any of his fantasy) as a big part of Neverness’s charm for me was that it was a hybrid of hard science and fantasy – ie, that the two complemented one another.

    In this respect, he’s a lot like Hannu Rajaniemi.

    Comment by Aonghus Fallon - December 6, 2017 12:23 pm


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