A first novel.
The Luck of Madonna 13, E. T. Ellison’s award-winning, genre-busting first novel, tackles the nearly impossible challenge of seamlessly knitting together persuasive technological realism with such high fantasy staples as castles, dragons and magic in a 25th century future Earth that is not wildly different from our own.
Does it work? Sci-fi critic/agent provocateur Gabe Chouinard (locusmag.com, sfsite.com) says "I’m going to step out on a limb and say that here we have a series [the Last Nevergate Chronicles] that is destined for greatness. Without a single qualm, I can say that E.T. Ellison is writing a masterpiece that should grace the shelves of every discerning reader." January Magazine reviewer Lincoln Cho said "E. T. Ellison has brought us a fully realized future world with humor and more than a little understanding of human nature. His characters are superbly executed; his plot winds up and unwinds in completely believable ways. The Luck of Madonna 13 is also full of Ellison-created wonders – flying castles, dragons and an evil bad guy who plays ZZ Top and has a penchant for 1934 Fords." Cho likens Ellison’s "cheerfully skewed wackiness" to early work of best-selling novelist Terry Pratchett.
The Luck of Madonna 13 is a "sprawling epic of a tale that gleams with ideas on every page," says Chouinard, who sees Ellison as "a writer of amazing talent, able to weave lucid prose around ideas that are so profoundly bizarre, Jack Vance [Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of more than 60 books] would scratch his head in awe."
What’s the story about?
The Luck of Madonna 13 is set in a remote part of northern New Mexico in the year 2434. Its population decimated by the Nirvana Exodus, the planet Earth is a mere shadow of its formerly expansive self. The irrepressible Madonna 13 (possibly the 13th clone of Original Madonna) has long since Elevated but her spirit lingers in the venerable IsoTown of St. Coriander. As the tale begins, the reluctant heroine, 16-year-old Glendyl Fenderwell, has just been declared the town's 250th Luckiest, a dubious honor that banishes her from the only place she has known to seek the fabled Last Nevergate accompanied only by her wits and a smart-alecky backpack. Will she succeed where 249 previous Luckiests have failed?
Lurking just beneath the surface of this fast-paced quest is something else entirely. "At its heart, The Luck of Madonna 13 is social criticism at its best," says Chouinard. "Ellison interweaves his prose with off-the-cuff philosophical ideas on subjects as diverse as transcendence, alternative realities, eugenics, longevity, the Violation of Interpersonal Protocols, gambling, the possession of wealth, and a host of others. And all of it is wrapped in a gleefully whimsical style that pulls you through the book like a tiger on a leash; half the time you’re having the ride of your life, while the other half you’re wondering if you’re going to survive." Whimsical style or not, Ellison leaves thoughtful readers with more than a little to chew on.
The bottom line? "The Luck of Madonna 13 manages both to satisfy and leave you wanting more," says Cho."If you’re curious about the world that lives outside the necessarily narrow confines of ink-and-paper books, I invite you to visit," says the author in his introduction. To facilitate such cross-media interactions, Ellison has sprinkled the book’s margins with "quincunx icons" that signal the presence of additional information on the website. Here visitors can find an ever-growing collection of quirky, colorful and engaging "informatives." These items add flesh to the story’s bones and may or may not contain clues. The current inventory includes maps, a student history paper, blueprints, software package art, artifacts, "interviews," and even a photograph of Thigpen’s D-9 Cat.
Of course all these extras are just icing on the cake: "The Luck of Madonna 13 stands quite beautifully on its own," says January Magazine’s Cho.
The Luck of Madonna 13's honors include ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year award for the scifi/fantasy category and being named to January Magazine's list of the best 92 books of 2002, across all genres.