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The Weight of Numbers

3.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  167 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The Weight of Numbers describes the metamorphosis of three people: Anthony Burden, a mathematical genius destroyed by the beauty of numbers; Saul Cogan, transformed from prankster idealist to trafficker in the poor and dispossessed; and Stacey Chavez, ex-teenage celebrity and mediocre performance artist, hungry for fame and starved of love. All are haunted by Nick Jinks, a ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 21st 2007 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2006)
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Aug 20, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it
I can definitely understand why a lot of people disliked this book. The blurb describing it's synopsis makes it sound like a mystery-esque thriller with a simple plot and a clear antagonist. Thats what I thought when I picked it up.
Upon finishing it, however, I realized that the theme and message of the book go much deeper than they are made to sound on the back, and that many people who are looking for simpler, more topical reads may be put off by the story for either lack of understanding or
Oct 01, 2014 Liviu rated it it was amazing
The Weight of Numbers is a wonderful tapestry novel that works unexpectedly well. Not really sf as it takes place from the 1930's to the 00's and from England, to Mozambique to the Apollo missions, though infused with sfnal musings.

Following a diverse cast of characters who are related sometimes in obvious, sometimes in strange ways, Weight of Numbers is threaded together by the author into a coherent whole that is very satisfying.

The novel moves non-linearly in time, space and character arcs s
Events counterpoised with the moon landing are a central set piece of this novel, which is appropriate since every scene in this novel is as pitiless and barren as the face of the moon. This bleakness permeates whether appropriate or not as Ings twists and turns through events and characters spread over the last half of the 20th century. The right tone for Mozambique in the grips of the genocidal civil war between FRELIMO and the South Africa (and Rhodesia) supported contras RENAMO or London dur ...more
Sep 16, 2007 Jerico rated it it was amazing
This book is rough. Not unpolished (the prose is quite smooth, as if worn but quite a few revisions) but hard to finish. It reminds me a little of something by Pynchon: its scientific in elements of narration and description, its networked and scattered and very post modern (blah, blah, blah). Its a lot colder than Pynchon and stays far away from resolution. I thought it might be a message novel at first, something oblique on its moral but I think this might be the bleakest book I've read in a w ...more
Carl Bennett
Oct 11, 2015 Carl Bennett rated it it was amazing
As disjointed as life, which is not at all. this is a superb scan of what seem to be random events, but which aren't. The effect is exactly like life - you can't see what it's about at the time, it only makes sense in retrospect, then you can see why things happened, not just that they did.

There are some similarities in this book to my own life, but thankfully not everything in the text has happened to me. I liked this book from the start, from the first line. I bought it for 1 in a discount sho
Sep 09, 2008 Michel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Boomers and 68ers
Recommended to Michel by: Bbc
Shelves: eleole, lit
While the style is smooth and polished, the plot is rough, ambiguous and unfinished, or so it seems. Not to be recommended for amateurs of mystery and suspense —well, not quite true, I am an amateur of mystery and suspense— let's just say it isn't at all what you'd expect from the blurb.
This a cold, deliberate, unemotional vivisection of the 60s, when the counter-culture was the culture; when we rejected the mechanical morality of the past —Good was obeying the Law (and Traditions and Customs),
Lucy Furr
Feb 15, 2013 Lucy Furr rated it really liked it
So, I initially picked up The Weight of Numbers from the used bookstore because I liked the cover. Seriously, that's the reason. Sometimes I have good luck with that sort of thing, sometimes I don't. I'd say that this time was a pretty good success.

Quite honestly, I was expecting something a bit different based on the blurb on the inside, but I have to say, I think it turned out much better than what I was expecting. This book moves sporadically through time (the last 60 or so years) and (outer
Hugo Filipe
May 30, 2014 Hugo Filipe rated it did not like it
I read to page 100, and I gave up.
It doesn't matter how good Simon writes, I don't care at all about this book, the characters or the story.. He just keeps rambling on, with nothing to say.
Sep 11, 2011 Stephen rated it it was ok
I don't know what to make of this book. It was lovely to read and I really wanted to learn about the stories of all the characters. But after reading through nearly three quarters of the book I was still being introduced to new characters and the plot was not yet linking up in any meaningful way. So I quit. But I still kind of wonder how it ended and it it all came together at the last minute? Each chapter seemed to start to new storyline, but the previous chapters remained unresolved. I underst ...more
Jul 15, 2007 severyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not so great a novel. I think he was trying to write something epic about the way people became more and more connected by technology and history and thought during the 20th century, but the language isn't quite up to it and the book ends up sounding overwritten and implausible.
Mixing the characters up with the moon landings and the atrocities of post-colonial Mozambique comes across as a slightly clumsy trick, rather than the serious framing that I think it was intended to be.
The last 100 or so
Jun 21, 2007 jenn rated it did not like it
okay so, i put this book down. i read maybe 200 pages of it and absolutely hated it. it's a great concept- all of these people in different times and different places are connected to one man.

it has a slow start that never really picked up speed, in my opinion. i finally put it down because i found most of the content to be boring (at least to me) and some what filthy.

that said, maybe it's just not my style. simon ings has written a number of science fiction works, a few novels and one non-fic
Aug 14, 2010 Katherine added it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I wanted to like this book. I loved The Eye, a natural history so I thought I'd give his fiction a try. But, I just could not enjoy this one on any level. I found it confusing. I don't mean the multiple interconected characters and large philosphical underpinnings, I mean, I had to re-read sentences several times and still wasn't sure what the hell he was saying. I might have plowed on regardless had it not been so damn bleak. If I'm going to have my will to live sapped I'd like a little somethi ...more
Mar 26, 2015 Nic rated it it was amazing
Fast becoming my new favourite author. A worthy successor to Ballard.
Mar 01, 2013 Kristie rated it it was ok
While the characters seemed interesting and well-written, I was unable to keep track of time and the correlations between them all. I ultimately had to put this book down. I got about halfway through before I realized new characters were still being introduced, and I still couldn't keep track of the ones I'd already met. Well done, but not for me.
Nov 29, 2007 Beth rated it liked it
The weight of numbers starts off fairly slow and sort of confusing. Somewhere in the middle of the first chapter I was wondering if the entire novel was about a middle aged astronaut and his issues with his wife... But whoa... keep reading.
I really enjoyed the authors style and each chapter is exciting and well executed.
good book
Oct 26, 2011 Jill rated it liked it
This is one of those books that requires a reread. The first go was enjoyable, though a bit disjointed -- despite its length, it's something you need to read all at once. That, or keep a character map -- people keep showing up out of supposedly nowhere, but things do come together at the end.
Feb 04, 2008 Florita marked it as unfinished
I'm a bit fed up with all these postmodern novels that take a disparate bunch of usually thoroughly unsympathetic characters and bring them all together over some random connection, like they are all distant cousins of Benny Hill or all use the same haemorrhoid ointment or something. So what?
Peter Gasston
Jan 16, 2012 Peter Gasston rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Took me a second read to start seeing the connections between the time periods, which I didn't really get first time through. It's a clever book, an ambitious one, but not one that's easy to empathise with. I liked it, but I don't think it will be one I'll remember forever.
Feb 03, 2008 Mandy rated it it was ok
this book made no sense. I was sick most of the time I was reading it, but I don't think it would have made much more sense if my head was clear. I feel like it would be better the 2nd time through, but there are too many other books I'd rather read than read this twice.
Mar 17, 2008 Sammy marked it as given-up-on  ·  review of another edition
I'm not really that into this book, but I've only just started... I'm hoping I'll change my mind soon.

I have one serious gripe, but we'll see if it's still a big impasse as I get farther into reading...

I really wanted to like this book.
Alex Rogers
Aug 02, 2015 Alex Rogers rated it really liked it
Another bizarre Ings book - quite disturbing, obsessive attention to detail, amazing characters and sense of place - and I'm never quite sure that I understand it or really get what he's doing. Fascinating, very readable, very impressive.
Deen Sharp
Aug 05, 2014 Deen Sharp rated it really liked it
Almost every chapter starts with a definite time and place but this book still makes you lose your sense of time and space without losing the plot. Challenging but rewarding read.
Apr 14, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like a poor attempt to imitate Richard Powers. I won't be finishing it, and that almost never happens with me.
Oct 11, 2010 Jen rated it really liked it
Picked at random from the library shelf because I liked the cover (different than the one shown here!)
Sep 30, 2011 Yana rated it it was ok
A good friend gave me this book and thought I would enjoy it, but I just couldn't get into the plot.
Oct 29, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it
Great book. Learned alot about Mozambique too :-)
Jan 20, 2009 Ginette rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
This was really bizarre and disjointed.
Jeffrey Quiambao
Aug 16, 2012 Jeffrey Quiambao rated it it was ok
mish-mash and too incoherent
Jun 26, 2007 jeramy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: ???
so far so good...
Lydia marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
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I've published seven novels and one book of popular science.

I also edit Arc, a new magazine of futures and fiction developed by New Scientist magazine. Its inaugural issue was published in February 2012 with new work by Margaret Atwood, China Miéville and M John Harrison, among many others.

My latest novel, Dead Water, is set among the tramp lines and pirate syndicates operating on the Indian Ocea
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