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Review: A. A. Attanasio’s Radix: Book 1 of the Radix Tetrad

A. A. Attanasio‘s Radix: Book 1 of the Radix Tetrad


Science Fiction

A young man’s odyssey of self discovery in a world eerily alien, yet hauntingly familiar. Set thirteen centuries in the future, A. A. Attanasio meticulously creates a brilliantly realized Earth, rich in detail and filled with beings brought to life with intense energy. In this strange and beautiful world, Sumner Kagan will change from an adolescent outcast to a warrior with god-like powers and in the process take us on an epic and transcendent journey. Nebula Award Nominee

Buy Radix (ebook or print).


File Size: 1483 KB
Print Length: 493 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: A. A. Attanasio (February 9, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English


Paperback: 402 pages
Publisher: Phoenix Pick (August 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1604504595
ISBN-13: 978-1604504590


What can I possibly say about Radix? I first read it back in the 80s. I was about 17 at the time. At the time, I thought it was weird (and I still do), but it also blew my mind – in a good way.

Did I identify with the protagonist, Sumner Kagan? Yes I did. He was a bigger guy than me but we were both overweight. Life sucked. He was a murder who went by the moniker Sugarat. I was a murderer in mind only and only when someone really pissed me off. After almost 30 years, I still occasionally thought about that book.  It was recently rereleased and I decided to pick up the ebook and re-read it. I’m glad I did.

The book is completely mental. Imagine Harry Potter mixed with Blade Runner on acid. Maybe Harry Potter is a bad mix but there is a kind of magic in this very sci-fi novel.

Sumner Kagan is having a bad life. His dad died. His mom is a fortune teller loony. He’s fat and has no friends. He does, however, have pure genes.

This is a world where galactic radiation has mutated the people of Earth. Psychic powers abound but most are outlawed. Showing sings of them can get you killed. There is some kind of disembodied mentalities that are reborn in a certain part of the populace.

Sumner mostly just wants to have sex and kill the people who don’t like him. He doesn’t start off as a likeable guy and, honestly, never really achieves that state. He is a sympathetic character, though,a nd by the end you will be rooting for him.

You can find more details on the web. The book and the author have their own wikipedia sites. What I do want to say is that this is an excellent book to read twice, seperated by 30 years. I have a much harder time identifying with this person. I certainly don’t find myself wishing I was him or that I could be like him. I think I have somewhat of a better understanding of my younger self by rereading it. As a teen, I was moved and affected by this book.

Do I recommend this bok? Heck yes. It’s an awesome read. You can get it as an ebook for just $2.99. That is way less than what it is worth. Will I read it again? I don’t think so. Maybe in 30 years but not any time sooner. I did however read the second book and I have the third. I’ll be posting reviews of those also.

Here’s a snippet of the book.



Blinded by the headlights, Sumner Kagan lunged off the road and slid down the dirt embankment into the dark. Above and behind him braking tires squealed furiously. Savage voices yowled as the Nothungs, in leather streetgear, rolled out of their Death Crib and chased after him. Five viper-thin men with blood-bruised eyes and teeth filed to points charged down the slope yelling, “Run, Wad — run!”
At the bottom of the incline Sumner veered into the marsh. He looked like a spooked cow in the dark, waddling heftily side to side. The Death Crib’s headlights shimmering off his smudged and tattered shirt, he pushed into the tall grass, arms flailing wildly. His night vision had returned, and he could see clearly the squat silhouette of the alkaloid factory on the horizon. He knew there was a packed dirt path somewhere around here.

Not far behind, the Nothungs whistled chains through the air, howling and cracking stones together. If he merely stumbled, he would be torn to pieces — the police could search the marshes for weeks and still they wouldn’t find all of him. He thrashed through a brake of cattails, and then his feet hit hard earth. It was the path, a straight run to the alkaloid factory. In the west, the Goat Nebula was rising. He screwed his mind into that brilliant green spark and kept his thick legs pumping.

When he reached the chain-link fence of the factory, the Nothungs were close enough to pelt his broad, stoop-shouldered back with scattered handfuls of gravel. There was barely time to locate the hole that he had sheared through the fence earlier that day. He found it beneath the massive and mud-streaked billboard: NO GO! TRESPASSERS SHOT!

Bellycrawling through, he strained to haul his corpulent body upright and jog onward. He banged up a long metal ramp toward a broad staircase that ascended into the dark galleries of the factory.
It was bad planning, he told himself, to have to climb stairs after such a long run. It might all end here. Rau! Legs numb with fatigue, heart slamming in his throat, he fixed his eyes on the dark shadows at the head of the stairs and ignored the pain that stabbed him more sharply with each step.

Just as he made it to the top, one of the Nothungs clutched at his pants and ripped off his back pocket. Desperately, spastically, he sprawled forward and kicked free. Struggling with his own pendulous weight, he pulled himself to his feet as the Nothungs came bellowing over the top.

Exhaustion staggered him, but he fought against it. The big vat was up ahead. He could see it below through the wire mesh of the ramp.

The Nothungs came up strong directly behind him, ricocheting chains off the pipes on either side. They thought they had him trapped. Alone, in an abandoned factory. That appealed to their imaginations. Sumner had known it would.

The silver scars on the metal post, where the DANGER sign had once been, blurred past him, and Sumner took its cue and leaped. The knotted rope was there all right, and its stiff threads stung his pulpy hands as he swung heavily to the other side. Two sharp screams rang out behind him, two splashes.

Swiftly, he looped the rope around the railing and, plodding off into the darkness, found the broad pipe that would carry him back to the other side. He staggered along it, adjacent to the ramp where three silent Nothungs meekly peered down into the darkness that had swallowed their companions. An emergency water-hose waited where he had left it. He had tested it that morning.
One of the Nothungs yelled across the darkness: “We’ll find you, fat boy! We’ll rip you!”

“Aw, blow it out, screwfaces,” Sumner answered, just loud enough to be heard. He had already turned the waterpower on, and as three faces dark with rage spun around, he opened the valve. The blast clipped their legs out from under and logrolled the Nothungs off the ramp, their wails lost in the hiss and bang of water hitting acid.

# # #

Sumner listened deeply to the hissing water as he crouched with fatigue over the limp hose. Breath tight in his throat, leg muscles spasming from the hard run, he paused only briefly before taking a canister of red spray paint from its hiding place beside the water-hose. With an unsteady arm he mist-scrawled on one of the broad overhead pipes: SUGARAT.

# # #

Sumner didn’t stop to rest until he got to his car in a lot behind the factory: a standard bottle-green electric car, squarebacked, with three small hard rubber tires and two scoop seats. He loved it more than anything else. It was his home, more of a place of fealty and comfort than the rug-walled residence he shared with his mother.



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