The Praxis
Book One of Dread Empire's Fall

Author: Walter Jon Williams
Simon & Schuster
RRP 10.99
ISBN 0 7434 6110 X
Available now

The Shaa have ruled the empire for the last 10 millennia: 10 000 years of terror, violence and oppression, made legitimate by the Praxis, the harsh code of ethics the Shaa have imposed on the many races they have conquered, including the human race...

At the centre of The Praxis is the old story of capitalism. In place this work is comparable to George Orwell 1984, but set much further into the future. On the underbelly of society the usual hustlers, pimps and crooks do their dirty work, the no-hopers and uneducated lead small and fruitless lives, while the middle-class melts into the background.

The Legion of Diligence makes sure everyone stays in line (and unmentionable things happen to those that don't), while everyone is looking out for number one, or simply for the advantage of their collective.

The novel starts with the preparation for death of the last of the Shaa. The Imperial Race has been dying out for millennia and the moment fast approaches when the curtain will come down, leaving their subject races to continue in their appointed roles.

The first two thirds of the book are rather heavy going but once the last of the Shaa finally dies conspiracies start bubbling to the surface and Walter Jon Williams shows his real talent for story telling.

Straight from the Dune stable, The Praxis is a well constructed space opera that will appeal to sci-fi fans who want something a little different.

Nick Smithson

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