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Air (Gollancz S.F.)

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,488 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Geoff Ryman's triumphant return to science fiction is a powerful, evocative story of information technology and world change.

This remarkable novel is about the effects of a new communications technology, Air, that works without power lines or machines.

As pervasive technology ensures the rapid spread of pop culture and information access, few corners of the planet remain un
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Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 21st 2005 by Gollancz (first published October 1st 2004)
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oriana
Oct 02, 2014 oriana rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: Joe R.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John
There were many things I enjoyed about this gracefully written novel, and a few minor blemishes that were mildly irksome. The portrait of small village life in an imaginary (but realistic) third world country in Central Asia, the thought of which originally made me cringe a little, turns out to be so full of wonderful detail and character shading that you can almost smell the diesel fuel emissions from the passing trucks. In particular, some of the best, most dramatic parts of the novel come fro ...more
Alain Dewitt
Wow, really great read. I heard about this book from Amazon's adaptive marketing and from a podcast interview with Richard K. Morgan. Morgan was telling the interviewer that he thought 'Air' was better than his own award-winning novel, 'Market Forces'. As big a Morgan fan as I am (and there aren't many bigger), I have to say Richard's right.

'Air' is not just a good science fiction novel. It's a great novel period. It's one of the rare science fiction novels that is also a really good literary no
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Mike
Sci fi club book.
It's a good thing this was an assignment, although we did feel it
started off a little slowly, we kept at it - and did enjoy it.
The basic premise describes the next generation of world wide
connectivity, AIR, a method that accesses and explores the Internet
directly by the mind. An initial trial goes very wrong, overloading
many people to the point of suicide, but the full launch is still on
schedule. In a little and backward village in a Third World country
one of the villagers, Mae,
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Tomislav
wikipeidia has a nice non-spoiler summary of the plot concept, so I'll just quote it. "Air is the story of a town's fashion expert Chung Mae, a smart but illiterate peasant woman in a small village in the fictional country of Karzistan, and her suddenly leading role in reaction to dramatic, worldwide experiments with a new information technology called Air. Air is information exchange, not unlike the Internet, that occurs in everyone's brain and is intended to connect the world. After a test of ...more
Res
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Prest
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Pants
Firstly, I take issue with this book being listed on a best SciFi of the last decade list where I found it.

This is NOT a good SciFi book. The fictional science is weak at best, and outright fantasy at worst. This book would be a prime example of why many people see the genres of SciFi and fantasy to be blurred. In my opinion if you're going to write about implausible, bad science, just leave it and call it magic.

That is not to say this was a bad book, but simply a bad SCIENCE fiction book.

What i
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Lightreads
A tiny mountain village in loosely fictionalized 2020 Asia is the test site for Air, the internet beamed right into your brain. Chung Mae is a proper wife and a fashionista – the test and her collapsing world make her become a whole hell of a lot more.

Marvelous. This is how a mcguffin story ought to work – Air doesn’t make the story happen, the story happens to it. But then again that’s Mae all over. She is this intense, homegrown, bootstrapped, amazing kind of savvy, sharp enough to cut herself
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Oscar
Pocas veces crítica y público coinciden, y ’Aire’ es uno de esos casos. En el año 2006 se hizo con algunos de los premios más importantes del género: Arthur C. Clarke, British SF, James Tiptree Jr. y Sunburst, además de ser finalista al Nebula, Philip K. Dick y John W. Campbell. Esto de los premios es relativo, pero en este caso realmente la obra se los merece. Geoff Ryman realiza una profunda reflexión sobre las consecuencias derivadas de la implantación de una nueva tecnología en una comunidad ...more
David
I really did try to finish this book... but eventually gave in around the halfway mark. It wasn't that I found it particularly horrendous, more that life is too short, there is other stuff I want to read and I wasn't particularly enjoying it.

I got annoyed how the heroine (who was at first very likeable) was ALWAYS right and much cleverer than all the other characters, who were repeatedly portrayed as ridiculously stupid in comparison. And everything bad that could've happened to her did - so muc
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Wealhtheow
I read this years ago but still remember whole sections; it absolutely astounded me. It's the tale of Mae, who lives in the not-quite-distant future. Mae is the exact opposite of an expected main character: middle-aged, not white, a woman, not a revolutionary or particularly gifted or chosen in any way. But her personality is so vibrant, and Ryman writes her world so well, that I couldn't imagine a more appropriate heroine.

Last year I saw Geoff Ryman speak, and he mentioned his ambivalence abou
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Kate Friday
A strange sort of book. It had very good potential at the beginning, and set up to be a fantastic science fiction commentary on the power of the internet. Unfortunately, it was let down by the oddities in later chapters and ridiculous plot climaxes.
Tim Hicks
Jul 04, 2007 Tim Hicks rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans
An excellent exploration of how we think of less-developed countries and of where the Internet might go - and also an intriguing plot with believable characters. We're in "Karzistan" in 2020, and a backward village is about to get "Air", the wireless computerless network. One woman sees that everything will change, and tries to get the village ready. But something isn't quite right...
Deborah Biancotti
I'm really impressed with how Ryman can push a premise to its logical conclusion. This is really what science fiction is meant to do; THIS is the literature of ideas!

And this is also the literature that proves you can write an interesting book about an unlikeable character. Chang Wei is superior & vain, & despite that I kept reading. I kept reading largely because the technology was so weird, & the abuse--really, the abuse--of it by frankly everyone with access to it (yes, including
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Eric
Another Tiptree Award winner for my book club. This is the story of what happens when the last city on Earth to get online is suddenly given a brief test for Air - a quantum information interface that effectively gives you internet access in your head. The main character, Mae Chung, is with a woman who is killed by the test, and ends up not only with a live and very enhanced version of Air still in her head, but also with the personality and the memories of the dead woman.

The action takes place
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Kenneth A. Mugi
I brought 'Air' on a whim at a Borders' closing down sale. I saw the cover, liked the art and procured it for the less than a McDonald's value meal. I also brought it because I wanted to 'expand my reading horizons' by consuming something other than my standard fare of male heroic violence.

I don't believe that I wasted my time; I just think that this book is not written for me. I believe it is written by a very serious person for other very serious people who want to think about things in a ver
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Mark
There is a most excellent book inside of this novel. Kizuldah is a poor back-water village in fictionalized Kazakhstan, where only the richest family owns a TV/computer and they let their neighbors use to watch kung-fu movies. However the internet is coming, specifically Air - a new wireless technology that is beamed directly into the brain. A trial run of Air goes wrong, but leaves the village woman Chung Mae with a permanent internet connection along with some side effects. It is both an oppor ...more
Cislyn
There's a lot to enjoy in Air - it's a near future scifi with a lot of really well done personal elements. The characters are well-rounded, complex, and believable. The thing that bumped it from a "wow" down to a "well...." for me, though, was the pregnancy inflicted on the main character. To say it was unusual is an understatement, and in a book so grounded in the real, dirty, physical lives of the protagonists in a tiny village in Karzistan, it felt really out of place. It was a metaphor, a cl ...more
Andrea
Mesmerising from the first page, an exquisitely drawn exploration of the impact of techonology on an isolated rural community, and how these "un-technological" villagers change the very nature of communication across the world using the same technology that almost destroyed them. A story of transformation, of unpredictable consequences of change, of the nature of communication, but especially of how solutions to present problems may not always be found in the halls of the powerful and privileged ...more
Lazlo Isomer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Park
Four and half stars.

This a book about people faced with overwhelming change. Most of the characters inhabit a village in the mountains of Karzistan somewhere in central Asia. They are about to be dragged from a near-feudal existence into the twenty-first century by a new technology called Air. This is a kind of mental internet, linking minds directly through a higher-dimensional space-time. Once Air is in place, everyone in the village will be linked to the rest of the world.

Air is a book about
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Rebecca Schwarz
While I'm only giving it three stars, I found this book strangely gripping and much of it brilliant. It's the kind of flawed work that really gets me thinking about how to accomplish things in my own writing. There are many good descriptions of the plot, so I won't repeat it here. In the broadest strokes this book is about how people in a traditional culture deal with new, transformative technologies. The near future science fictional topics still feel relavant despite the fact that this was wri ...more
Deanne
Set in the near future in what appears to be Kazakstan, Mae lives in a village which is the last place to be connected to the net. The next step is air which allows people to connect to the web straight to the brain, but there has to be a test of the new technology, a test which creates problems as well as oppotunities.
Takes a little while to get started but the characters range from loveable, to quirky, to strange etc.
Daniel Roy
As William Gibson said, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed." I travel a lot, and I see the evidence of this everywhere I go; I once sat in an Aboriginal village council meeting in rural India where discussions on the necessity of clean running water were interrupted by the village leader's ringtone.

Air is the story of that point when the future will be evenly distributed, and the one village on Earth that's the least ready to welcome it. The novel does something
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Cow
Sep 08, 2011 Cow rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cow by: Craig
Shelves: spec-fic, canada
Recommended by the Craug.

The most remote mountain village in the world, the last to get TV or the internet or anything like that--suddenly is thrust into the singularity. If that's even the right term. And it goes horribly awry... They then have one year to prepare. And in that time, everything has to change--the villagers, their alliances and fights and politics, their daily lives.

The village itself is a fascinating place--set in a version of Kazakhstan, 15 or so years after the book was writte
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Jani
Air is an interesting novel. In a sense it is as much a post-colonial novel as an SF novel. It is after all somewhat about meeting between cultures, or technology [of a certain culture] and a culture.

When reading a text that "a westerner" has written that is set in "a non-western" culture, I feel a bit vary. Especially if the subject belongs to a culture I have had no contact with. However, with Ryman's text, the characters appear too wayward to be just stereotypes or inventions. The world of t
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Maya Panika
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scarlett Sims
This isn't the kind of book I'm used to reading. It wasn't exactly slow-paced, per se, but it also wasn't terribly plot driven. The story takes place in roughly 2020, and the titular substance is a sort of mind-invading Internet. The inhabitants of a small village in the fictional country of Karzistan have to deal with the way this, and other technologies, affect their lives and relationships. There is some reference to a "digital divide," although that phrase isn't used in the book, and other m ...more
Victoria
Let me just say that I *loved* certain aspects of this book. The protagonist(s) were both female, both of a minority ethnic group, both poor and rural, and both fabulously written. Mae is a character that I relate to on many basic levels - a desire to please and help her community while also feeling reined in by its rules, a curious intellectual engagement that didn't always have its proper outlet, unconventional views about her prescribed roles as wife, mother, lover, friend.

You will notice th
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What's The Name o...: Mae [s] 3 16 Jun 26, 2013 09:21AM  
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Geoffrey Charles Ryman (born 1951) is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and slipstream fiction. He was born in Canada, and has lived most of his life in England.

His science fiction and fantasy works include The Warrior Who Carried Life (1985), the novella The Unconquered Country (1986) (winner of the British Science Fiction Award and the World Fantasy Award), and The Child Garden (1989) (winner
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More about Geoff Ryman...
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“He might as well have been talking English, for all Mae understood him.” 3 likes
“Once there was a dictator. He drove millions to various kinds of deaths, by war, in prison, or simply in harsh deserts farming their lives away. He destroyed temples, burned books, and ruined the art of calligraphy. He wrote terrible poetry and forced everyone to learn it, so destroying the literary taste of one quarter of humanity. He remained a warrior even as Chairman. He was at his best as a warrior, because as a warrior, he was fighting for his people, dreaming for them. After that, he only ground them down. But I forgive him for saying one beautiful thing:

'Women hold up half the sky.' -- Chairman Mao Tse Tung”
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