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Steel Beach (Eight Worlds #2)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,028 ratings  ·  105 reviews
Fleeing Earth after an alien invasion, the human race stands on the threshold of evolution, like a fish cast on artificial shores. Their new home is Luna, a moon colony blessed with creature comforts, prolonged lifespans, digital memories, and instant sex changes. But the people of Luna are bored, restless, suicidal-and so is the computer that monitors their existence...
479 pages
Published 1994 by Collins (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Henry Avila
Dec 30, 2011 Henry Avila rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
Recommended to Henry by: nobody
The most painful opening sentence in a novel, in the history of literature(Well for half the human race).Great premise,humans living on the moon.The Lunarians,don't call them loonies,have an utopian society, where boredom is the major problem.Big Brother,(cancel that, this is the 23rd century) the Central Computer rules Luna.The inhabitants chief amusements are sex change operations and suicide. People have to do something! The main character in this novel is Hildy Johnson a reporter.He/She or a ...more
Neil Fein
When the terribly, terribly fashionable decide the old genitals are getting to be rather a bore, don't you know, they phone the chauffeur and have the old bones driven down to Change Alley.

John Varley, Steel Beach


Hildy Johnson, sometimes reporter for The News Nipple on Luna, may not be John Varley's first character to switch genders in the middle of a story, but he's certainly the most memorable. (In the film His Girl Friday, the character of Hildy was switched to a woman because the director lo
...more
Mitchell
After a decade-long hiatus, John Varley returned to his Eight Worlds series with Steel Beach, and the change is considerable. The original gist of the series is that humanity has been evicted from Earth by an unknown alien force dubbed "the Invaders," forced to eke out a living on the other eight worlds of the solar system (Pluto's recent demotion messes up the name a little, I guess). The only book from the original series I've read is The Ophiuchi Hotline, written in the 1970s, which revolved ...more
Tom
Blah.

Some interesting concepts here - humanity cast off the earth by an uncaring alien race, re-establishes itself on the moon and nearby planets. Medical technology has made every disease curable, every body part update-able and every injury fixable. Over-riding all that, a computer consciousnesses is involved in every aspect of life and thought. And what happens when that omnipotent, benevolent (?) AI starts getting depressed?

All huge concepts, any one of which could have made compelling SF,
...more
Andreas
This novel is set in Varley’s “Eight Worlds” Universe. It is the story, almost the chronicle, of Hildy Johnson, who also made an appearance in “The Golden Globe”. Steel Beach is the story of how Hildy Johnson didn’t commit suicide. That’s putting it crudely since the actual story is full of wonderful detail and nuance.

Hildy Johnson lives on Luna (the moon), a utopia with very long (perhaps even infinite) life, no real need to work and unprecedented personal freedom. Ironically, this personal fre
...more
Wealhtheow
Just when I thought I'd fangirled Mr. Varley as much as I could, I read this. OMG! Gender, children, our ever-increasing dependence on technology, computer science, depression, the importance of journalism, and lots of little adventures spicing up the great big plot. It's thick, it's thoughtful, and you should read it.
Tomislav
This novel is set on the Moon, in a future where Earth has been invaded, and human life continues on the "Eight Worlds" of the solar system. There are some minor discrepancies regarding the timeline of this setting and that of other "Eight Worlds" novels such as The Ophiuchi Hotline - but John Varley states in the post-word that he really doesn't care about that. In this novel, set about two hundred years after the invasion, tabloid reporter Hildy Johnson wants to retire from the business, but b ...more
manuti
Seguimos con Libros 2005-2006. 12 libros al año.
Playa de acero de John Varley es una novela extensa, en su edición de bolsillo tiene más de 700 páginas, y es probable que le sobren más de 200. Eso sí, es entretenida y se lee bien, el futuro que propone te hace pensar, sobre todo cuando el protagonista cambia de sexo durante la novela y hay que pasar de imaginárselo como un hombre a hacerlo como mujer, un ejercicio mental muy interesante. Como crítica, creo que le falta punch, le falta ese remate
...more
Michael Alexander
Love it. Will say more later, but this is absolutely in the big-ideas-dropped-like-little-bombs tradition of Heinlein, but with a big sense of why you don't actually want to BE that guy on a political or a social or a personal level. Plus some really all-in gender switching by main characters including the viewpoint characters, with a sense that gender, sex, and orientation don't all line up the same way for different people, nor does CHANGING one of those things have a predictable effect across ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
...more
Jeraviz
No he conectado con la historia en ningún momento. La forma que tiene de plantearlo John Varley no es la adecuada ya que teniendo un marco tan atractivo como es el universo de Ocho Mundos plantea una historia en exceso larga y sin atractivo.
El protagonista es un reportero al que le encargan una serie de artículos con motivo del Bicentenario de la Invasión de la Tierra (para empezar, no entiendo la celebración de un acontecimiento tan nefasto) para que analice cómo era la vida del ser humano ant
...more
Noel
Steel Beach is flat-out one of my favorite Varley books. As a Heinlein fan, the Heinleiner stuff had me rolling around laughing, even though I am not entirely sure it was meant to be as funny as I found it.

But I love the issues and questions it explores, and I really like the way Varley handles some necessary narrative changes.

If you've never read it, do. It's quite good and the first line in the story cannot be beat.
Dynagrip
just fucking terrible. if I hadn't been stuck in airports or on a plane I never would have continued reading this shit.

I knew it was going to be bad when there were mentions of Heinlein in there. Nothing good comes of science fiction authors referencing Heinlein because Heinlein sucked and was a pervert.

So yeah, this book was basically a shallow copy of the kind of stuff written by a dead would-be sex offender.
Tasha Robinson
One of the most ambitious science-fiction novels of the 1990s, a sprawling book that practically amounts to a trilogy tracking a single protagonist through a series of genders, identities, jobs, and attempts at finding meaning in life. I'm going to write a column entry for The Dissolve about this one soon.
Jerico
This is a great book.

It is well written, in a comfortable 1st person format, with occasional asides that greatly enhance the setting without overloading on the details. In fact, it pokes fun at the tendency of other books over emphasis on arcane details of technology at length.

It's almost a mundane SF book, taking more than two thirds of its length before any action movies stuff takes place. But it's about suicide, despair and madness in a world that looks very much like utopia. There are shad
...more
SOliver
Reading for a book club-- not my typical type of book. Futuristic Science fiction with underlying social opinions woven in. Pretty interesting and I'm shockingly loving it.
Nicholas Armstrong
Steel Beach is more of a book about a setting than it is a character. Normally I would hate this. I've read many books where the author is so caught up in the world he is making that he forgets to populate it with anything but stick people; Varley doesn't do that, not exactly.

Steel Beach is hundreds of pages of exposition on the world and how it runs interspersed with great characters. If the world wasn't so damn interesting then I would hate it. But this is actually a really believable and fas
...more
Bookowl1000
Opening line 'In five years, the penis will be obsolete". Not surprising in a world where sexual identity is so intermixed. The residents of the Moon can change sex as easily as if they were changing their clothes. They are bored by their existence; nano technology had expanded life spans to hundred of years, medical technology means that even the most horrific injuries can be fixed; and imagine living with the fact that invaders to your planet viewed you as being so significant that they did no ...more
Jorozez
Playa de Acero ha sido la primera novela que he leído de John Varley y probablemente también será la única y la última. Tres en una, qué maravilla. La trilogía del ladrillo, la llamaré. Juro sobre la calavera de Isaac Asimov que intenté de veras que me gustase, intenté meterme en su mundo, aceptar sus reglas y dejarme llevar por su propuesta; pero no hubo manera, oigan.

La acción de Playa de Acero se sitúa ante un atractivo telón de fondo al que Varley no le presta mayor importancia: Los humanos
...more
Nicolas
Dans ce très épais roman de John Varley, on suit les pas de Hildy Johnson, célèbre reporter d'un journal du futur. Peu à peu, on en profite pour découvrir cette Lune du futur, qu'on pourrait décrire assez facilement comme un futur possible de Révolte sur la Lune. Bien évidement, un futur assez différent (après tout le Heinlein et ce livre de Varley n'ont pas été écrits aux mêmes époques), mais quand même, un futur plausible.
Donc on suit ce reporter dans ses différents reportages. Ou plutôt, on é
...more
Kaus Wei
Book 3 in my re-reading odyssey.

I have been learning interesting things about memory during the initial phase of my re-reading efforts. Namely, things I was certain I really enjoyed (and would continue to like) all those years ago, do not pass muster anymore. It is rather disheartening, I puts a mild damper on continuing this little project.

To the story at hand...

The first third (pherhaps half) you can not get away from refrences to easy sex changes.
They are all the rage!
Everyone is getting th
...more
Jim
I originally bought this book when it came out for the cover. It sat on the shelf until recently when I finally got around to reading it. The extensive hype on the covers and such really had me looking forward to a great SF read.

As it turns out, the book was certainly well-written, and had a good smattering of SF references and chuckles and laughs, but didn't really grab my interest until 450 pages in. Even then, the excitement wore off relatively quick, a last-minute surprise twist, and then it
...more
Vincent
J'aime beaucoup John Varley. Du moins j'ai beaucoup aimé la trilogie de Gaïa mêlant fantasy et science-fiction et bien aimé (à la deuxième lecture) le Canal Ophite (roman se passant dans le même univers que Gens de la Lune).

J'ai moins accroché à ce roman. Il parait que John Varley est très apprécié pour ses qualités d'écrivain de nouvelles, et beaucoup moins pour ses romans. C'est exactement ce qui me vient à l'esprit en lisant ce (très gros) roman.
Les idées sont là. Les personnages sont intéres
...more
Isabel
We all deal with the CC a thousand times a day, but almost all of that is with one of its sub-programs, on a completely impersonal level. But apart from the routine transactions of living, it also generates a distinct personality for every citizen of Luna, and is always there ready to offer advice, counsel, or a shoulder to cry on. When I was young I spoke to the CC extensively. He is every child's ideal imaginary playmate. But as we grow older and make more real, less tractable and entirely mor ...more
Marc
Jul 14, 2007 Marc rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
"I knelt and scooped up a handful of sand. No two grains looked alike. No matter how close I brought the sand grains to my eyes, the illusion never broke down and the endless detail extended to deeper and deeper realms."

I love any kind of plot twist, any time a story catches me by surprise. This book was the ultimate mindfuck for me. Definitely my favorite novel. Varley has only written one other novel and a handful of short stories set in his "Nine Worlds" future. I truly believe that this is t
...more
Michael Tripp
Steel Beach is a wandering 565 page behemoth. If you've ever read Varley, you might know that his books are Sci-Fi in setting, but very philosophical works. Steel Beach describes how a world where no one dies, and no one gets sick may be heaven on Earth (or the moon in this case), but in reality is world were life is meaningless. There is a suicide epidemic, and the main character Hildy (an investigative reporter) is put on the case and in the end, even self aware Central Computer, care taker of ...more
Ed
Finalist 1993 Hugo Award.

SciFi - Hildy Johnson is a reporter on Luna several hundred years after Earth civilization has been destroyed by the Invaders. Hildy is prevented from committing suicide by the Central Computer, an invasion of privacy. The novel owes much to RAH including a group of individualists, the heinleiners. Mini ecologies based on historic Earth are called Disneylands.

Cliff W.
This book will require that I go back through my entire Goodreads library and lower my ratings by 1-2 stars. "Steal Beach" is THAT Five Star read. Varley did exactly what a solid science fiction writer should do: More than 20 years after publication, left me thinking he either owned a crystal ball or a time machine. His insights into tech, media, AI, gender, sexuality, money, and the meaning of humanness are uncanny.
brook
i read this for my husband marc, because it is his favourite book of all time and it was one of those you-must-read-this-to-really-get-me things. i have a shaky relationship with science fiction, but this book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go. i have much respect for it, because i know that varley captured something that marc would have killed to written himself. i don't want to give anything away regarding the plot, so i'll just share what it says on the back of my copy:

"fleeing
...more
Elaine Cramer
I read this a while back, and I am thinking of picking it up again. The world Hildy lives in is so interesting to me. I love the different characters she encounters. Some scenes tickle me just to think about them again. I kind of wish I had the instant access to the CC myself. How many times have I been unable to google something and felt the withdrawal? Sigh.
I'll give a better review after I read it again. It might be a while.
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27341
Full name: John Herbert Varley.

John Varley was born in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, moved to Port Arthur in 1957, and graduated from Nederland High School. He went to Michigan State University.

He has written several novels and numerous short stories.He has received both the Hugo and Nebula awards.

More about John Varley...

Other Books in the Series

Eight Worlds (3 books)
  • The Ophiuchi Hotline
  • The Golden Globe
Titan (Gaea, #1) Wizard (Gaea, #2) Demon (Gaea, #3) The Ophiuchi Hotline Millennium

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“The public had an endless appetite for stories like that. Subconsciously, I think they think the gods of luck will favor them when the tromp of doom starts to thump. As for survivor interviews, I find them very boring, but I'm apparently in the minority. At least half of them had this to say: "God was watching over me." Most of those people didn't even believe in a god. This is the deity-as-hit-man view of theology. What I always thought was, if God was looking out for you, he must have had a real hard-on for all those folks he belted into the etheric like so many rubbery javelins.” 8 likes
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