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3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  129 ratings  ·  18 reviews
It is the dawn of the fourth millennium, and for trader Nathanael Freer it is business as usual. Tile Dance, his ship, is in the safe hands of KathKirtt, an AI with two minds, and a loyal krewe of cybernetic and android helpers. His latest commission-to deliver a shipment of nano-forges to the planet Eolhxir--is routine enough. All seems okey dokey.

But it is not. A virule
Published (first published January 1st 2001)
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When I finished this book I was too dazed and worn out to give it anything like the kind of review it deserved. I ended up just resorting to the worst reviewer's cliche in the book -- "what was this guy on?"

I still don't feel like writing a real review, but in lieu of that I can at least throw some quotes at you. Quotes are specially informative here because what distinguishes this book from all the other science fiction I've read isn't plot or characterization or worldbuilding -- all pretty goo
John Clute is a singular SF critic: he writes with verve and style and with a unashamedly vaste vocabulary. Indeed his unapologetically fertile use of words, his love of language as a sensuous and liquid thing, alienate some who prefer a more direct and uncomplicated approach. His knowledge of the genre is also unmatched, and would be called 'encylopaedic' had he not in fact edited the definitive encyclopaedia in the field.

Given this background one might expect his first SF novel, a dense and in
Clute has an amazingly large vocabulary, and shows it off in virtually every sentence. (E.g., almost at random, "The theophrasts of the inner stars designate the masking of a Made Mind as a form of kenosis--the ultimately fatal incarnation of the divine into the progeria of mortal flesh.") While this enables very dense description, it is also overwhelming--I feel I need to have a dictionary beside me to read this book. The story and characterization are somewhat left behind; there are story poin ...more
Way too many obscure adverbs and adjectives. So much so that I will not finish reading it! It's just too difficult to follow the story line with all the excessive verbage thrown in! It is too much like a vocabulary test, requiring a dictionary at all times.
One of the most interesting sf books I've read in a long time, even though the language makes this a difficult climb. The quest story is fairly straightforward, but understanding it could take quite a slow reading.
Tera Nikolaos
This book made very little sense. I have no idea what actually happened. Perhaps it is too clever for my brain to comprehend.
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in December 2002.

Until the publication of this, his début novel, John Clute has been best known for writing about science fiction rather than in the genre, and his wide ranging knowledge shows in Appleseed's cross references. The most obvious link, as far as a reader is concerned, is not within the genre, but to the novels at the more flamboyant end of stream of consciousness, to James Joyce's Ulysses, for example, or to the richness of Jorge Luis Borges.

Nathaniel Freer is a trader who's been lucky enough to find a commission in a time of hardship, when a data virus, plaque, is slowly encompassing the galaxy. He barely escapes from the planet Trencher when the plaque engulfs it but it seems that his cargo is more than it appears, and Freer must run for his life towards his destination planet that seems to be at the centre of everything.

This is a hard science fiction novel with lots of interesting world-building. From the twinned AIs, pleasingly
Almost entirely unintelligible. Not in the sense of a Gene Wolfe artistry, but more like a twisted version of Mary Gentle and M. John Harrison. A combination of a refusal to use a simple word where a complicated one would do and a tendency to ignore quotation marks and full stops lead to an interesting, if somewhat anonymous experience. Of course, if you're describing a world where identity is mutable and there is no clear distinction between thought and speech then it all makes sense, but it ma ...more
Clute writes powerful prosetry. I wanted to love this novel--I love the setting, the artificial intelligences, even the idea that humans are the most terrifying beasties in the galaxy--yet I was so busy looking up words and trying to make sense of individual sentences (much the time) that I failed to love the experience. I was left with a sense of what happened, not a concrete recollection--which may have been his intent. Perhaps he wanted a novel that left impressions instead of concrete memori ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Jacques rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jacques by: Robert Chiniquy
Brought a borrowed copy on a long plane trip and read the whole thing, despite the availability of other books, so that's something. I can sort of imagine liking it, but I didn't really. Well written, though I bet I could convince you otherwise by quoting from almost any page. Atmospheric, densely allusive, novel. Over-the-top flashy. The characters seemed static. The plot felt predestined. The anthropocentrism was tiresome. Maybe I was too tired and cranky when I read this! Who knows?
Brian Richardson
Strange, surreal, hypercool far future novel where humans are the hottest (literally) thing walking the worlds, aliens worship strange gods buried in the seas of Earth, and information plaque spreads like disease across planets. Highly recommended if you're looking for sci-fi that's way out of the ordinary.
Randy Waite
Clute tries to impress the reader with verbose vocabulary (with both real and made-up words), which renders this novel unreadable. Too bad he didn't use his efforts to fully develop his characters instead of trying to fill space with arcane verbiage.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]The writing style was entertaining, but I regret to say that I could not follow the plot at all.
Fascinating book. He plays with language like a poet which sometimes makes it him hard to understand. Despite that I enjoyed the short novel despite getting lost several times.
Far-future science fiction that dumps ideas out on every page and makes your brain boggle. Wonderful, wonderful reading. Post-humans. Post-AI.
Zachary Jernigan
Damn near impenetrable but also really rewarding and enjoyable, kind of like talking to John Clute in person.
A difficult book filled with gorgeous language.
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John Frederick Clute (1940- ) is a Canadian born author and critic who has lived in Britain since 1969. He has been described as "an integral part of science fiction's history."

Clute's articles on speculative fiction have appeared in various publications since the 1970s. He is a co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (with Peter Nicholls) and of The Encyclopedia of Fantasy (with John Gra
More about John Clute...
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction The Encyclopedia of Fantasy Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia The Darkening Garden: A Short Lexicon of Horror Canary Fever: Reviews

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