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Floating Worlds

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  395 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Paula Mendoza is called upon to mediate beween the Styths and the Martians. Her initial meetings with the Styth warlord and his unruly followers are not promising, but when she adopts a less conventional approach the consequences are considerable.
Paperback, 628 pages
Published December 8th 2011 by Gollancz (first published 1976)
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Paul
Mar 15, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing! This deserves its reputation as a lost classic. Written in the style of the late 70s socially conscious scifi epics (leguin, russ, delany, et al), this tells the story of a women from a largely ruined but wholly anarchist earth who, in her effort to negotiate a truce with a race of imperialistic aliens, the Styths, of human-ancestry, bears the children of one of their leaders and integrates into their society. All of the other humans who live with the styths do so as their slaves, so Fl ...more
E.J.
Dec 17, 2010 E.J. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
There was a recent article about the top ten best unknown SCI-FI titles of all time and this was one of them. Having never heard of Floating Worlds or its author, Cecilia Holland, I decided to give it a read, not knowing it's a modestly large book at 600+ pages.

The novel is set 2,000 years in the future in which colonies are spread throughout our galaxy and earth has been reduced to a few people living inside domes because they've destroyed the enviornment outside. One woman, an Anarchist (one
...more
Fx Smeets
Dec 17, 2012 Fx Smeets rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cecilia Holland is not a science-fiction writer. Any person familiar with the genre will notice her lack of grasp on some of the fan's favorite science-fiction features, mainly the scientific and the gadget sides. The novel use of paraphernalia is ridiculously poor and stamps it irremediably from the seventies: if we were to believe Holland, videophones and air buses would be the only technical innovations humanity could come up with in almost 2,000 years !

This aside, Floating World is a powerfu
...more
Iain
Feb 17, 2012 Iain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a book! 600-odd pages covering the life and turbulent times of a woman of the distant future. It's the single SF work by a well-known historical novelist, so as a seasoned SF reader I kept a wary eye open to see what kind of book it would really turn out to be. And I couldn't crack the code. It's something of a historical mashup, sure—Viking raiding parties, bloody tribal rituals, Yakuza families (hence "floating worlds"), backstabbing in the senate—but no single element dominates, and the ...more
Ruby  Tombstone [With A Vengeance]
It has been two months since I first started the book, and three days since I finished it, and I am still trying to figure out what just happened. I can only tell you three things about this book...

Floating Worlds has a very detailed and well thought out futuristic universe, complete with technology, political systems and alien races. Of course, being written in the mid-70s, it feels all a little dated - not just in terms of technology, but in socio-political terms as well. You get the impressio
...more
F.R.
Jun 12, 2015 F.R. rated it it was ok
I liked the amusing opening idea that anarchists would have their own committee to make sure that the anarchy didn’t get out of control. And I liked that in terms of female sexuality and cultural understanding it’s far beyond your normal 1940s novel. This is a book which absolutely transcends its time. But even though I wanted to enjoy ‘Floating Worlds’, I actually found it quite un-gripping. It's a book to pass the time with, rather than relish.
Simon
Aug 07, 2013 Simon rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
I'm not really sure what to make of this one. For me, it struggled to get going, was overly long and petered out with an ending that left you wondering why you bothered. Don't get me wrong, it certainly had it's moments. Most of the time I was fairly gripped, wanted to find out what would happen, where it was going. And for a while, I thought I knew, until the ending let me down. The dialogue took some getting used to too, always at cross purposes, talking past each other.

Paula Mendoza was an in
...more
Will
Nov 16, 2009 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly obscure book, tracked down and read because it was an incredibly obscure book. Sadly, it's about as readable as the Worm Ouroborus. Leaving aside the style and aversion to using proper nouns, it's incredibly frustrating to read because it jumps around so much.

There is no exposition, repeat, no exposition. There are no periods where the characters discuss their options, or even work out where they are and what they're doing there. It's simply assumed that you know how this world works
...more
Lindig
Jul 24, 2010 Lindig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I read this when it first came out (late 1970s). At the time, sex in SF was practically non-existent, so this book was exciting for its explicit sexuality. However, rather than being a feminist approach, I found the cultural aspects more reactionary. It seemed to me that the heroine was bowled over by the warrior culture's "manly" approach to sex and so succumbed to the alien's dominance and was willing to be limited and circumscribed by his culture just so she could get really good sex.

As a fem
...more
angela
Sep 21, 2014 angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gah. Ugh. Phew. That was gigantic. I need someone to talk about it with. Agh. I need someone to digest that all with! Are there essays about this book? There should be.

So much! So much is happening! I picked this one up for a bunch of reasons. It's a Strong Female Protagonist (weak Monty Python yey). It's social/political sci-fi, similar to (and loved by, apparently?) Ursula Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson, two authors I greatly admire. It's a "lost classic", which is always appealing (pretty o
...more
Mira
Mar 28, 2013 Mira rated it did not like it
Shelves: classic-scifi
I'm my own worst enemy. I saw this the whole way through to the end because it's a classic, and as a fan of the genre, you owe it to those forerunners to pay homage.

This is an epic space opera seen through the eyes of Paula, an Earthling who ends up at the centre of an inter-galactic war.

The storytelling is clunky and tedious. I had no clue what was going on a lot of the time. There is a lot of political rambling. There's a lot of unexplained stuff about a special kind of alien that doesn't add
...more
Gabriel Clarke
Oct 08, 2016 Gabriel Clarke rated it it was amazing
Dense, complex, demanding and quite unlike any recent SF I've read for a while, with the exception of China Mieville's extraordinary Embassytown. This is SF written at the level of literary fiction but with none of the compromises that usually entails. Even more unusually, this is Cecelia Holland's only SF novel outside of her day job as a distinguished historical novelist. In its politics and the challenges it makes of its readers, it's very much a novel of the seventies and its peers would be ...more
James
Mar 25, 2013 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tried to read for SF book club but abandoned it after making a third of the way through.

Things HAPPEN FOR NO REASON!
Erik Graff
Jan 20, 2010 Erik Graff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holland fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Despite the rave reviews and my appreciation of feminist and anarchist (such as Ursula K. LeGuin) science fiction, this novel--apparently, Holland's sole effort in the genre--left me cold.
MichaelK
Jan 10, 2016 MichaelK rated it did not like it
Floating Worlds (1976) by Cecelia Holland is, apparently, a very influential space opera, 'a neglected SF masterpiece.' Set an unspecified time in the future, it opens with the protagonist wandering round the ruins of Manhattan as a tourist:

'From here she could see through the broken walls to the next row of ruins, and through them to the next, all huge, the biggest buildings she had ever seen. The people who had built this city had dominated earth for three centuries, by money, by force, and by
...more
Yve
Dec 17, 2016 Yve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, 1970s, 20th-century
This one reminded me a bit of The Worm Ouroboros: set-up of rival powers, and then endless plots and fighting without discernible reason. Of course, the writing style is completely the opposite, very matter-of-fact and even terse, but still good. I think the main personalities were well-developed and Paula was an interesting if infuriating heroine. I also appreciated that Holland spent a lot of time treating the social and political environment of her imagined future and not too much on invented ...more
Nigel
Jun 09, 2016 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a rough and at times even grating read. There's a female protagonist that makes no concessions to likeability. There's a solar system populated by hedonists, fascists and people so committed to anarchy that operating without laws is a point of pride as well as principle. Then at the far edge of the system there are the mutated humans, the Styths: violent, misogynistic, racist slavers out to build an empire. Paula Mendoza is an anarchist from a badly polluted Earth. Anarchists seem to thr ...more
Andreas
Jun 05, 2013 Andreas rated it really liked it
Cécilia Holland erschafft fantasievolle Welten mit tiefgründigen Bewohnern. Das Handeln der Hauptfigur Paula Mendoza wirkt wie ein permanenter Kampf gegen Windmühlen, eine frustrierende Abfolge von Rückschlägen. Apathisch lässt sie sich durch die Geschichte treiben, manipuliert die Personen in ihrem Umfeld hier und da, fast immer mit katastrophalem Ergebnis. Nur sich selbst bleibt Paula in ihrer widerborstigen Art treu.

Ich habe schon lange keinen Roman mehr mit einer so unsympathischen (weil eg
...more
Bookmole
Jul 25, 2011 Bookmole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading this - the first time I read it was when the paperback came out, in 1976/77 (hardback published 1975 - in those days there was quite a wait for the paperback version to come out!)and I may have read it again, before I split with the boyfriend who kept a lot of my books.

Things accurately remembered so far - the story of the flute, the desolation
Things forgotten so far - just how alien she made her worlds, how poor Paula was (which is why she is doing the things she does - for money, mo
...more
Jacob Barker
Feb 15, 2015 Jacob Barker rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tyler
Oct 09, 2014 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Floating Worlds by Cecelia Holland - I was pleasantly surprised that I picked a book up without any prior knowledge of it, and it turned out to be a good read.

It’s set a couple of thousand years in the future, and much of Earth is uninhabitable due to over pollution, Mars is colonised as are the outer planets by a mutant humanoid race. The protagonist Paula Mendoza from Earth becomes a diplomat to the aggressive and dominating mutant Styth race.

The best part of this novel is the fiery and unpred
...more
Caroline Mersey
Feb 22, 2013 Caroline Mersey rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, readwomen
Floating Worlds is an interesting novel, and somewhere in there I'm sure there is a plot struggling to get out.

Like the "floating world" school of Japanese art mentioned briefly in the novel, this book exists very much in the detail of its moments, all of which seem to exist outside any conventional sense of narrative structure. There are long tracts where nothing much happens, apart from exquisite descriptions of furniture and the feel of mud between Paula's bare toes. But then all of a sudden
...more
Christy
I see that a lot of other people liked this book, but I had to force myself to finish it. I didn't care about a single one of the characters, the plot of meandering, there was no clear narrative drive or arc, and the writing wasn't very good, either. Plus, there's a scene where a couple of desperate people eat puppies.

Basically, the protagonist, Paula, gets a job she doesn't really want and gets herself into dangerous situations doing it, but before you know it she's no longer really doing that
...more
L. Woodswalker
I am up to page 84 of this 530-plus page book, and I'm thinking of quitting. Why? Because the writing is flat (Sentences that fall like lumps of lead, excess description of mundane activities), the setting of "anarchist" earth is uninteresting, and the protagonist is the flattest of all. Who is she, what is her background? I have no idea. She is supposed to negotiate with the Styth, a race of brutal interplanetary pirates who resemble the Klingons. They push her around, act like boors, threaten ...more
Charles Harrison
5 star books are one which I didn't just enjoy they are ones I could rave about or change my way of thinking. This one is a certainty. In the first few chapters it equaled many of the greats by providing an insight into a political system which I previously thought unworkable. Essentially when you read 'The disspossed' you get to the end and think 'hmm communism what a good idea, when you read 'starship troopers' you get to the end and think 'facism what a good idea.' When you read floating worl ...more
Raluca
Dec 19, 2015 Raluca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't finish this book. I tried, I kept reading in the hope that something interesting will happen, some good will come out of it bit nope. What is the purpose of this book? Albeit, the main character is a hispanic (if there is still a racial division in that time) bisexual woman who seems to know what she wants but actually doesn't, but the Styths are a pretty borring warrior race, what is left of Earth is an Anarchy (and I'm just curious how that works out but that little detail is n ...more
Grace
Apr 12, 2015 Grace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
I acquired this book at a book fair in Tulsa, OK.
TW for domestic violence.
Includes sexual content and anarchy.
A good female lead who is not actually "good". She has her own self: this book is so well written that she is Real and the Styth she beds is just as Real. The antagonist is more than real and the worlds seem a thin veil on the happenings between the people in the story. Her own unique style of writing appealed to me and gave me inspiration. Her plot and characters illuminated deeper ins
...more
Shiloh
Sep 09, 2013 Shiloh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. At first I wasn't too certain if I could handle something so different, as I am not much of a Sci Fi reader, other than Star Trek, but I was quickly surprised on how the characters grew on me. I was disappointed at some points, because I couldn't believe how the characters choose a certain path or what direction the story line was going, but then I was forced to change my mind, when I realized how exciting that pathway became. This book keep me reading and looking for m ...more
Catherine
May 15, 2013 Catherine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book is intriguing, a young Earth woman is hired by a committee of the Earth's anarchist government to go to Mars and meet with a representative of a humanoid species from Jupiter. This premise could have been developed into a very creative and interesting story and there are some moments in which the book is a good read. However, I found this book very disappointing. At points the author grabs you with beautifully detailed descriptions of a future Earth, other off world sett ...more
xenu01
Well. I was tempted to give it one star since most of the other women are terrible (really everyone is terrible, so I guess there's that) besides the heroine, there's at least two unnecessary instances of the heroine being raped by the main hero, and the n-word is said by everyone about everyone else approximately one million times, but I guess I'll give it an extra star due to some originality and creativity. I really doubt I'd be recommending it to anyone trying to catch up in terms of woman-w ...more
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Pen name used by Elizabeth Eliot Carter.

Cecelia Holland is one of the world's most highly acclaimed and respected historical novelists, ranked by many alongside other giants in that field such as Mary Renault and Larry McMurtry. Over the span of her thirty year career, she's written almost thirty historical novels, including The Firedrake, Rakessy, Two Ravens, Ghost on the Steppe, Death of Attila,
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