Empty Space
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Empty Space (Kefahuchi Tract #3)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  269 ratings  ·  68 reviews
From a writer acclaimed for his high-concept SF and stunning prose comes the final chapter in the multi-award-winning trilogy that began with Light and Nova Swing
Thisspace adventures beginswith the following dream:An alien research tool the size of a brown dwarf star hangs in the middle of nowhere, as a result of an attempt to place it equidistant from everything else in...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published July 19th 2012 by Gollancz (first published 2012)
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Szplug
Why can't the world that concerns us be a fiction and why does it need an author?
I suppose you could read Empty Space as a standalone novel, though it makes [somewhat] more sense when you've previously immersed yourself in the trilogy's two brilliant opening acts: the tripartite tales of grungy, multi-physics miracles in a 25th century depressingly continued from our own era—and in the latter of which a disturbed serial killer scientist is molding that very future in his vision-worked hands—tha...more
Gerhard
One of my favourite SF books ever is Nova by Samuel R. Delany, and Harrison's Kefahuchi Tract trilogy reminds me so much of Delany. The sense of a wild frontier, crazy characters caught up in a maelstrom of events in a dark and unredictable universe, where nothing is as it seems and everyone is damaged in one way or another.

A lot of modern SF seems sanitised and focused on technology; Harrison's 'singularity without an event horizon' is dirty, smelly, sexy, and filled with danger and dangerous /...more
zxvasdf
In his blogs, Harrison often states that the act of writing is a quest for identity, a means for him to understand himself in this world. So, Empty Space essentially is the psyche of Harrison himself, laid out as visceral as neon entrails left in the garden at dusk. He crafts tantalizing clues, slight references to inspirations, influences, and secret obsessions. A viewpoint is rehashed out between multiple characters, and the emergent property is of disassociation.

Everyone's trying to find the...more
Leonard
There's an almost impossibly extended sequence of mindfuckery and mysticism toward the end that I'm not sure I fully grasp. But whatever: Harrison is smart and sly enough to slip in a few self-referential asides about ungraspability. I was left feeling, I dunno, spun around, ravished, awed despite a predictability or two. The question of whether the language of intentionally impenetrable postmodern space opera is really the best medium for this sort of thing nagged me a bit. As shaped by Harriso...more
Tamahome
Dec 27, 2013 Tamahome marked it as lemmed

The perfect formula for the opposite of a best seller in America:

1) it sounds British
2) has a very good vocabulary
3) has some scifi words
4) doesn't skimp on the violence (or weird sex)
5) unlikeable characters

It's as immediately unappealing as I remember Light being (which I didn't finish). Whenever he makes a comparison in his descriptions, I just shrug and go "I don't know what that is". A lot of people respect him, so I'll keep plugging. I've read 2 chapters. Some of the chapters are in the pr...more
Alex Sarll
As a rule, the only information you can trust in the Daily Mail is the price on the front. But on the cover of this book is a quote from them, proclaiming Empty Space "SF at its most astounding" - an entirely accurate assessment. And what better way to establish, even before the first page, an uneasy mood, a sense of a world where basic laws of the universe fold, warp or decay? Harrison's tired, clunky near future, and the grotty grandeur of a 25th century which has found new vices but no new vi...more
Adam
The finale to Harrison’s trilogy is as confounding, obtuse, and beautiful as the rest of the series. His prose is crafted so impeccably and relentlessly it is hard to resist chewing over each line and word choice (it is also very discouraging for the amateur writer) and occasionally losing the plot. But with Harrison you know you are going to read it again, soon I might restart the trilogy and see how they work together. His imagery, imagination, and prose are on such a level that they put much...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
Glorious ending to the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy. I've never read better literature on the unknownness of the universe and of the human being.

How I'll love to write the review of the entire trilogy for Galileo!
Kyle Muntz
This book is difficult, complex, and ingenious--maybe maybe not Harrison's best, but almost definitely his most ambitious. Especially over the first 100 pages, I struggled with it in a way I haven't with a text in a long time: even aside from his prose (which is pretty much flawless), this is a novel so itself, so full of empty space (on every level), that a lot of the time it felt impossible to put together; Harrison somehow managed to create something intensely imagist and strange while still...more
Andrew
Better than Nova Swing; not as good as Light (but what is?) If Light is full of the "sparks in everything," and Nova Swing is about boundary states, then Empty Space focuses on the nothingness that separates people, places, and times - the "gutters" between two panels in a comic. The subtitle is "a haunting," and the book is certainly haunting.
Rprice23
The book equivalent of a miles Davis fusion jazz solo. Stunning.
Mieneke
Empty Space is easily the hardest SF I've ever read, in both senses of the word. It is also my first M. John Harrison I've ever read. It might not have been the wisest place to start, but it hasn't put me off reading more Harrison as I loved his prose and the challenges his writing poses to the reader. This book was hard work for me as hard SF isn't something my mind processes easily and I'm proud that I finished it and I found it very much worth the work as in the end the puzzle pieces fell tog...more
Eoghann Irving
Empty Space is a challenging and frustrating book to read.

Certainly it doesn't help that it's the third part of a trilogy so you are rather thrown in at the deep end here. But that's certainly not the only reason.

The text of the book is thick. You can't skim this stuff. It's laden with meanings and inferences Skip a page and you will end up completely lost. That also means of course that if you put it down to do something else, it can take a while to immerse yourself in it again.

It's also a book...more
Kevin
This is the third book in the series that began with "Light" and continued with Nova Swing; you will want to read the first two before starting "Empty Space", or else prepare to be utterly confused. Some of the more peripheral characters from the earlier books become protagonists in this novel, which like the first book has three interwoven storylines: one set in near-future England, the others in a remote stretch of our galaxy during the 25th century. The characters are drawn somewhat more thre...more
James Tierney
I confess that there were whole passages in Empty Space where I had no clue just what was going on.

Part –but only part- of my confusion was down to the fact that this is the concluding volume in a trilogy of books Harrison commenced in 2002 with ‘Light’ and continued with 2006’s ‘Nova Swing’, neither of which I have read.

But there’s also a graceful inexplicableness at the core of Harrison’s syntax and story, something Gary K. Wolfe calls an “elegant precision about indeterminacy”.

It is at tim...more
Peter Dunn
Like many of M John Harrison stories there is a decent story here – or several stories but not really what you would call a plot. Unfortunately, unlike the pervious book in this trilogy, Nova Swing, those stories aren’t really enough to make up for the lack of plot.

OK the Kefahuchi Tract MacGuffin imposes an increasing non-linear reality on the story which is interesting to start but it does in the end begin to edge into simply being annoying.

The ending is bleak. I do like bleak. Bleak has its p...more
Trish Graboske
Roadside Picnic/the Strugatsky brothers meet The Big Sleep/Raymond Chandler, stirred with a big, quantum stick. This is a novel that should be read more than once.
Anna R
Finally finished - this book was so strange that it's hard to say what was it exactly about. Still confused after the ending...
Jayme
Beautiful prose. But I had no idea what was going on.
Joseph Michael Owens
4.5 stars

There's a ton of prose in this series that really often makes me think Harrison is one of the best prose writers alive. It's not most readers' usual cup of tea, perhaps, but the language is just so well done, so consistently. It's got a subtle fluctuation between genre(s) and style(s) that it feels like a multilayered effort by multiple authors. So many things work incredibly well in these 3 books (Light, Nova Swing, and Empty Space) that almost certainly shouldn't — or rather, likely w...more
Ian Mond
I was very dismissive of Nova Swing on the most recent episode of the Writer and the Critic podcast and unfairly so. Now having read Empty Space I see both Nova Swing and Light in a different… er… light.

Empty Space isn’t a book about answering questions or startling revelations, although there’s a little bit of that. Rather it clarifies Harrison’s intent - his deconstruction of traditional SF and his undermining of expectations. And he does all this with the sort of slippery but gorgeous writing...more
Eija
Tyhjyys on M. John Harrisonin Kefahuchi Tract –avaruusooppera trilogian päätösosa. Edelliset osat Valo ja Nova Swing toimivat samaan maailmaan sijoittuvina erillisinä kertomuksina, mutta Tyhjyys ei ole itsenäinen kertomus vaan se on jatkoa molemmille kirjoille ja sitoo ne yhteen. Edelliset osat olisi syytä olla luettuna ennen Tyhjyyden aloittamista, muuten kirjasta ei saane paljon tolkkua. Vaikea kirja on muutenkin, vaikka edeltävät tapahtumat ovat tiedossa - vaikeasti ymmärrettävä ja kummalline...more
Chiles
while Light remains perhaps the most astonishingly unbalancing of the books in the Empty Space Trilogy, this one is the most masterful, not only for itself - its substance and execution, the writing! the Writing! - but for the way it changes your understanding (or: enhances your misunderstanding, or lack of either) of the previous books. it's almost unfortunate that this is the third of a trilogy, and so can only be fully regarded in the context of those other books - otherwise, i would've liked...more
James
This book took four times longer to read than I expected. I loved Light and Nova Swing. The world of these books is deep food for though.

I love M. John Harrison's idea of the universe being so much mathematic and signal, fabrics that can be bent, twisted, and shorn. Time and space becoming a relative concept in the face of alien technology left behind millions of years ago. That when humanity came across this left behind space junk that enabled extensive exploration of everything, the laws of ph...more
M
When reading this series I felt that

#1 Light was amazing and one of the best SF books I have read. Regarding ideas, style and structure, world-building as well as characters.

#2 Nova Swing while still high quality with excellent style and ideas, was much weaker regarding plot, characters and it's general idea. In fact, I found it annoying in parts: I just could not understand where the various plot lines or characters were going, and generally what the entire point of all of it was. It felt as if...more
Jani
In retrospect I wish a had read Nova Swing again before I embarked on this the third volume of the Kefahuchi Tract -trilogy (as it will be henceforth probably known as). While I love Light and know it by heart, Nova never really astounded me as much and so I have forgotten many things about it that might have brought extra to reading this novel. Then again I don't really know about how this might have changed my experience until one day when I will read the whole set in order. Thankfully, Empty...more
David Manns
M John Harrison is an author you either get, or don't. To me he is one of the finest writers alive today. The breadth of his imagination is staggering.

Empty Space is the third and final (?) book in the Kefahuchi Tract trilogy that began with Light, continued with Nova Swing and concludes here. Characters from both previous books reappear as he weaves a story set in the far future with one set in present day earth. For me this has the edge over Nova Swing precisely because of that duality. The st...more
Ian
Empty Space is the third and final book of Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy, the first of which, Light, marked his return to science fiction after many years away. I’m not sure there’s any value in giving a précis of the plot, since in parts it’s wilfully opaque – as it has been throughout the entire the trilogy. Suffice it to say that some of the plot-threads from the preceding two novels do see some sort of resolution in this book. Harrison’s future is dirty and enigmatic, but it is also ful...more
Marta
„Pusta przestrzeń” to trzeci, a zarazem ostatni tom trylogii Trakt Kefahuchiego autorstwa M. Johna Harrisona, pisarza na tyle specyficznego, że z reguły albo się jego dzieła kocha, albo się w nich nie gustuje. Obok Chapmana i Duncana należy do najbardziej kontrowersyjnych autorów opublikowanych jak dotąd w serii Uczta Wyobraźni i w gruncie rzeczy trudno jego prozę polecać lub odradzać, nawet znając upodobania konkretnego czytelnika. To lektura-niespodzianka, która budzi skrajne odczucia. Po Harr...more
Wayne McCoy
When I first picked this book up, I assumed it was a sequel to Light, which came out in 2002. It's actually the third book in a trilogy, with book 2 being Nova Swing. I read Light ages ago, and hadn't read Nova Swing, so I found myself foundering through a good chunk of this book trying to figure out what was going on. Having read other reviews, it appears to be this way even for people who are more familiar with the preceding books.

The story flips between a few storylines. One set in the near p...more
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10765
aka Gabriel King (with Jane Johnson)

Michael John Harrison was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1945 and now lives in London.
Harrison is stylistically an Imagist and his early work relies heavily on the use of strange juxtapositions characteristic of absurdism.

More about M. John Harrison...
Light Viriconium Nova Swing The Centauri Device The Pastel City

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