Too Like the Lightning: Too Perfect?

So I recently read Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning.

It was definitely an enjoyable book, although there were lots of things in it that were way outside of my sphere of understanding — I got the impression that without a much more thorough background in the philosophy and literature of the era that the book’s style emulates, a lot of the story will remain relatively obscure. I’m not here to complain about that, though — it’s a feature, not a bug, and hopefully I will eventually learn something from it as the series progresses.

That all said, this novel had one major problem that I’m finding it very hard to overlook: the world is just too smooth and perfect. There are the seven hives with their primary (and sometimes secondary) languages, a few extra-hive categories of people, and that’s about it. All of the hives operate at a global scale, and have enough members that everyone on the planet knows of them and has an idea of what their main “thing” is, and what projects they’re currently pursuing.

And while the world isn’t *supposed* to look like the one we live in, I feel that in this particular aspect, the author has gone a little bit too far. Why are there only seven hives, period? Where is the tiny hive of idealist Esperanto speakers, who’ve abandoned the Fina Venko, but still retain their internal culture? Or the Trekkies whose preferred internal language is Klingon? Or even better, Esperanto speakers who *haven’t* abandoned the Fina Venko, and regularly hold various publicity stunts to try and convince people to adopt Esperanto as the world’s lingua franca?

None of this is meant to lampoon the book or its worldbuilding — as I said earlier, it’s a great novel, and this is just a nitpick. However, it would be cool to see these issues explored a bit more, either in the upcoming sequels or in fanfic.

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