Floating Worlds
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Floating Worlds

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  40 reviews
2000 years in the future, runaway pollution has made the Earth uninhabitable except in giant biodomes. The society is an anarchy, with disputes mediated through the Machiavellian Committee for the Revolution. Mars, Venus and the Moon support flourishing colonies of various political stripes. On the fringes of the solar system, in the Gas Planets, a strange, new, violent ki...more
Paperback, 628 pages
Published December 8th 2011 by Gollancz (first published 1976)
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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
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
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 [Uncensored or Else]
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
Fx Smeets
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
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
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
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
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
Tried to read for SF book club but abandoned it after making a third of the way through.

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
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
Caroline Mersey
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
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
Peter Johnston
A feminist libertarian wanders the solar system, always looking for the brass ring. This book, despite it's SF trappings, is more of a 1970s political novel than a sf one - the science is sketchy (typewriters and printed newspapers are still a thing). I found it hard to like anyone in this novel and like the central character says, it all runs in circles - there's no real resolution at the end. Very much a novel of it's time.
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
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
Edward Davies
This is a strange novel with a lot of ideas coming out of left field. The idea of Paula being almost forced into an arranged marriage in order to help peace talks with an alien race may not sound like anything new, but Holland's treatment of the characters is imaginative and makes for a pleasing, though not necessarily pleasant, read.
An example of the political sci-fi sub-genre, like Asimov's Foundation, but not as good. The political intrigue is actually OK but it tries to do too much beyond that: romance, world building, battles, mutants, psychics, all thrown together poorly. It's written in a strange style of short, sharp sentences with very little description of the alien worlds and no indication of the characters internal thoughts. They are all cyphers and very hard to identify with. Many people seem to think it's racis...more
Simply got bored. Not engaging enough for me.
Miki Habryn
I found this book slightly mystifying at times. Character motivations are all very bold and drawn in primary colours, but not always working from the same palette. Nonetheless, it mostly kept me entertained as a strange blend of Shogun and Battlefield Earth, but with a feminist, meso-futurist angle, all the way through to a fairly miserable (if suitably literary) ending.
I am somewhat baffled by the rave reviews in the synopsis: What could have been brilliant comes to a very bland conclusion.
Instead of a powerful resolution, after all the meandering twists and turns, which in themselves aren't very earth-shattering, the ending feels contrived and left me thinking: Have I really waded through this narrative for this?
Story has a 70's progressive feminist slant to it. Lots of subtitles around sex, gender and probably race, but it's the baggy and rather bland story that made it a chore to read. A shame really, because once or twice it seemed like it could get interesting, especially in the last third.
Nov 14, 2008 Sdprince rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kim woodward
This is a remarkable science fiction book, huge in size and scope. It's stuck in my mind for years and I finally bought a used copy to re-read.

It's about an alien culture which we discover in its cultural infancy, but which surpasses us quickly ....
Rudi Dewilde
She writes terrific historical books normally.

This is het only science fiction book. It's a treat. Normally female characters in DF are rather cliché. Here the hero is a woman with balls and a lot of femeninity.
Read for my sci fi book club. Can't say I particularly liked it, although I thought the many worlds imagined were interesting. The main character is deliberately affectless, which makes her hard to care about.
Erik Graff
May 21, 2011 Erik Graff rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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.
My appreciation of Cecelia Holland's lone science fiction novel is here.
Floating Worlds is Cecelia Holland's only SF novel. It is a good one, but I think she found there is more money in historical novels and fantasy.
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Chaos Reading: FLOATING WORLDS: Ruby's Challenge *Spoilers* 27 87 Jan 28, 2013 06:59PM  
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Pen name used by Elizabeth Eliot Carter
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