Synopses & Reviews
Written in a voice that is accessible to both mainstream and genre readers, this gripping tale contains a contemporary political subtext that is packed with humanism, complexity, and subtle humor. This inventive story centers on a mysterious enclave protecting a lost culture, a hidden city in the wilderness where stranded aliens struggle to preserve their fragile society. Hoping for a better life, many have fled the Secret City in favor of trying to survive in the harsh human world; others remain concealed, living out a fading memory in hope of deliverance. When the mythical rescuers suddenly arrive, insisting on an immediate interplanetary return, these very-human aliens discover that neither world is truly their own.
"First and foremost, Emshwiller is a poetwith a poet's sensibility, precision, and magic. She revels in the sheer taste and sound of words, she infuses them with an extraordinary vitality and sense of life." Newsday
"Emshwiller's readers know her to be a major fabulist, a marvelous magical realist, one of the strongest, most complex, most consistently feminist voices in fiction." Ursula K. Le Guin
"Emshwiller's newest novel is a blazing fast read." The Agony Column
"The finesse and grace of Emshwiller. She's a writer of such slantwise sensibilities and such deep perceptions." SciFi.com/Sci Fi Weekly
"Emshwiller has been writing occasionally for 50 years, and a new work is a treat." The Denver Post
"The Secret City is yet another strong late work from one of our treasures." SF Site, featured review
"Damn near perfect . . . touchingly and complexingly so." Asimov's Science Fiction
...a sweet and involving story. Its attitude toward humans and aliens is refreshinghumans are neither markedly inferior nor markedly superior to the aliens. Both species have problems, particularly severe class differences. What is ultimately important is personal connectionspeople who learn to love each other. The story is told through the points of view of Lorpas and Allush, and both are good but naïve sorts, giving the novel a pellucid sort of voice. (The viewpoint characters of Emshwillers other recent novels, Mister Boots and The Mount, are similarly naïve, as are the narrators of many of her stories. Her strategy often seems to be to show disturbing situations, and nasty characters, through the eyes of innocentsan effective approach.) The Secret City
is yet another strong late work from one of our treasures.”
SF Site, featured review
But all these past instances aside, no one has yet approached the trope with the finesse and grace of Emshwiller. Shes a writer of such slantwise sensibilities and such deep perceptions that she conveys the exotic weirdness of such a setupand the almost unfathomable otherness of the Betashan mentalitywith uncommon vividness and startling jolts of creepiness.”
Sci Fi Weekly (
The Secret City is a proud enclave carved in stone. Hidden high in a mountain range, it is a worn citadel protecting a lost culture. It harbors a handful of aliens stranded on Earth, waiting for rescue and running out of time. Over years of increasing poverty, an exodus to the human world has become their only chance for survival. The aliens are gradually assimilating not as a discrete culture but as a source of cheap labor.
But the sudden arrival of ill-prepared rescuers will touch off divided loyalties, violent displacement, and star-crossed love. As unlikely human allies are pitted against xenophobic aliens, the stage is set for a final standoff at the Secret City.
About the Author
Carol Emshwiller is a key figure in science fictions new-wave movement and the author of Carmen Dog, The Mount, Mr. Boots, and The Secret City. She is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Pushcart Prize as well as the Philip K. Dick and Gallun awards. In 2005, she received the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement and the Nebula Award for I Live With You,” the title story of her short-story collection.