Jack Faust
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Jack Faust

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  307 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The acclaimed novels of award-winning author Michael Swanwick have been praised for their "heady mix of wild ideas and images" (San Francisco Chronicle) and "extraordinary richness and scope" (Kirkus Reviews). But nothing that has come before can quite compare to this, Swanwick's finest creation to date.It is Wittenberg, Germany, and Dr. Faust is burning his books. The alc...more
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Avon Books (first published December 12th 1971)
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Dec 27, 2013 Werner rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fans of thought-provoking science fiction
"If there is no God, everything is permitted." --Fyodor Dostoevsky

"'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law!" --Aleister Crowley

Both of the quoted lines could well serve as epigraphs for this novel (though the author actually used three other quotes), and both summarize the major thrust of its message. Swanwick uses the Faust legend here as a literary conceit for a very dark and pessimistic meditation on the social, moral and spiritual results of modernity. The Goodreads description is...more
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Apr 05, 2010 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Triumphant wills
Recommended to Alan by: Rebecca Blood
Faust said with sudden apprehension, "Yes. Yes, what do you want of me in return?"
"Only that you listen."


A demonic bargain, to be sure—in a sense, the same one I ask of you here. But Faust and Mephistopheles go further, of course, in this updated version of the old tale; what the demon asks Faust to listen to is nothing less than the whole of physical science, given centuries before its more natural advent in our universe. The demon makes it clear that its gifts are made from malice, but Fa...more
great so far!-- Wow, i've never read any of Swanwick's books before although i've had The Iron Dragon's Daughter by him for over a year. I have definitely been missing out, this guy is GOOD!
Jack Faust is a rewrite of Goethe's classic tale of a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in order to posess all the knowledge in the world, and beyond.
Rebecca (agirlirlblog)
(2-20-11) This is the third time that I've started this book. I really wasn't in the mood to read it the first two times, so I'm hoping that's the reason I couldn't get into it rather than just finding it uninteresting. We'll see now that I'm more in the mood to read it.

Sometime later in the day: I'm still having difficulty getting pulled into this one. Maybe it's the writing style. I'm only on page 34 though, so will see if anything improves.

(2-21-11) I'm now on page 112 and it's improved a lit...more
Jack Faust is a retelling of the “Faust” legend. It is richly evocative of the medieval setting and presents Mephistopheles in the most fascinating way as a supernatural being who appears almost randomly as both disgusting and appropriate creatures—visible to the eyes of Faust only. The use of a first name to personalize the protagonist rather fooled me, particularly since the action of the novel all takes place in an alternate medieval history in Europe. The contemporary name led me to believe...more
The story of Faust has ancient roots: the over-reaching anti-hero who offers the core of his being in return for material benefit is present in many folk tales and legends. In its best-known form it is a tragic cautionary tale of mediaeval Christianity: the sacrifice of the soul for wordly power and knowledge. This is how both Marlowe and Goethe presented the message.

During and after the industrial killing frenzy of the Twentieth Century it became difficult to portray evil as 'outside': Thomas M...more
Jeff Rowe
Well, that was dark and depressing. That's why I gave it an extra star! Sort of a steampunk version of the Faustian legend. Who doesn't love a good pact-with-Mephistopheles story? I was hooked in the beginning when Faust says to Mephistopheles something like, "What makes you think all this knowledge will destroy humans? Maybe they'll use it to improve their lives?" The answer, "They could. But do you think they will?" Just posing that question alone pretty much tells you what's going to happen....more
Clever reimagining of the Faustus legend. It begins evocative of the Middle Ages and concludes by being provocative of our own. Social psychologists have long been fascinated with the phenomenon of how well-intentioned, perhaps even personally virtuous individuals can be drawn to participate in the most awful things. The social science research often proves inadequate--explanations may only best come through the vehicle of story and metaphor. Here's the book's theme, expressed through the though...more
I think that this is one of those books that I am going to have to re-read to appreciate the full import of. The pacing felt awkward in parts, and perhaps my lack of familiarity with the original Faustian tales also contributed to my incomplete satisfaction. But I will read it again, because I suspect I will enjoy it more the second time through.
This book is a retelling of the Faust story with a sort of Sci-fi/Fantasy twist. It seems Nihilistic at first at the end, with seemingly little hope that the human race can overcome the folly that leads to Faust's actions and their consequences. Hope is found, though if you follow the character of Margaret and the action she eventually takes. I would love to teach this book to my future English students in addition to or instead of Marlow's or Goethe's versions. Over all, pretty solid writing. S...more
Emmy Jackson
Ah, tragedies. The best ones are like slow-motion trainwrecks, compelling and infuriating and, in the end, supremely bleak. This is one of those.
Whitney Altine
A good interpretation for the modern audience.

The titular character is, as always, a man who deals with the devil in return for knowledge. In this case, the devil in question is a being not out of Christian teachings but of alien nature; his interest in humanity is never truly explained except that a being of perfect knowledge and eternal life is bound to get bored without pets to play with. Using his connection to the secrets of the universe, Faust changes the path of modern human history and,...more
A small challenge to get into but after about page 100 the story gets much better. An interesting read, well-written.
Sometimes I think this book was written by a dark twisted genius. I remember when I read this feeling overwhelmed and repulsed because the world view was so dark but so interesting. Still, today, I have occasional flashbacks. The same holds true about Swanwick's book The Iron Dragon's Daughter. But, because I still have that taste in my mouth like food gone bad, I give it two stars.
Bruno Silva
Explora de forma interessante a sede de conhecimento infindo pelo qual Fausto vende a alma a Mefistófeles, mas ao qual os homens não conseguem corresponder de forma tão rápida (cada descoberta acaba por ter o seu tempo).
A relação dele com Gretchen é algo interessante mas no final o livro perde-se em devaneios e fica sem grande interesse.MEDIANO
Florin Pitea
What if Faust had triggered the Industrial Revolution? For a detailed review of this alternate history, please visit my blog: http://tesatorul.blogspot.ro/2013/05/....
Very interesting book. Makes you think a lot about humanity. Very vivid and lude, though so the light hearted beware. This book put the book Faust (the original) on my list of books to read.
just failed to engage. i remember not liking it much the first time round as well, but then i'd just read the iron dragon's daughter, and the comparison was rather too harsh.
Honestly, I feel I wasted my time reading this book.
Interesting premise, but it didn't turn out as good as I had expected.
Very very Crowleyian - even going so far as to include "Do What Thou Wilt Shall be the Whole of the Law". I really liked it.
Jonathan Hutchins
A good story, but it made me feel I should be re-reading the original instead.
Lance Bonner
Great book, if you have not read this you should.
It's my favourite book of all time.
Frank Taranto
Just know I read it.
Harry Barnett
Best book I've read
Mediocre at best. Skip it.
*note to self. Copy from A.
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