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The Far Side
of Evil

by Sylvia Engdahl
"Fiction doesn't have to be profound, just entertaining. But every once in a long while, a novel comes along that is both. . . . [It] speak[s] to the very place of humanity in the universe, and what we need to do to attain and claim it. In an age in which terrorism has threatened our ways of life in unexpected ways, Engdahl's probing story, and the recommendation it contains, are especially relevant." --Paul Levinson, 2004

"Gripping psychological science fiction..."
Times Literary Supplement
"A surprising, haunting, poetic book..."
"Forceful style ... grips the reader's imagination."
Publisher's Weekly
The Far Side of Evil paperback edition
Paperback edition
(Firebird Books, 2005)
The Far Side of Evil hardcover edition
Hardcover edition
(Walker, 2003)
The Far Side of Evil ebook edition
Ebook edition
(Ad Stellae Books, 2011)

On completion of her training as an agent of the interstellar federation’s Anthropological Service, Elana is sent to a world whose people may soon destroy their civilization. Since not enough is understood about the situation to justify any interference with their evolution, the Service has no power to act; its agents must go as helpless observers, posing as natives, in the hope of gaining knowledge that may help to save other worlds. This passive role proves intolerable to the young, inexperienced agent assigned to the same city as Elana, a city under totalitarian rule. After falling in love with a local girl who has become Elana's closest friend, he identifies too completely with the natives and unwittingly endangers the entire world by a well-meant but ill-advised attempt to intervene. Forced to assume responsibility for undoing the damage, Elana finds that only she--at great cost--can prevent an immediate war of annihilation.

This novel was originally published in 1971 by Atheneum as Young Adult fiction, but many adults enjoy it. Although it has the same heroine as the author's Newbery Honor book Enchantress from the Stars, it is not a "sequel," since it is completely independent and is intended for an older audience -- it is a darker story that is not appropriate for most readers below high school age. The two books can be read in either order.

The Far Side of Evil was reissued in an updated hardcover edition in 2003, with a paperback in 2005. Both are now out of print, but an ebook edition is available from all major ebook stores. If you have read only the original edition, please read the updated one -- the changes to the statements about the significance of space travel reflect what we now know after 40 years of neglecting the space program, and are important. The action of the story hasn't changed.

Read more quotes from reviews

Read FAQ about the story

Read the Afterword to the 2003 edition

Read 2017 essay Update on the Critical Stage: The Far Side of Evil’s Relevance Today

PURCHASE COPIES of The Far Side of Evil
Print copies are no longer available from the author, but used copies are available at Amazon.com and from used book dealers. And of course, the ebook edition will remain available at all major retailers and to libraries.

If you bought a new hardcover or paperback copy of this book at Amazon.com you are entitled a free copy of the Kindle edition through the Matchbook program. The Kindle price will automatically show as zero on your account. If you bought a copy directly from the author and would like an ebook copy, write to sle [at] sylviaengdahl [dot] com.
Ebook $2.99

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