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Eifelheim

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  1,916 ratings  ·  364 reviews
In 1349, one small town in Germany disappeared and has never been resettled. Tom, a contemporary historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend Sharon, become interested. Tom indeed becomes obsessed. By all logic, the town should have survived, but it didn't and that violates everything Tom knows about history. What's was special about Eifelheim that it utterly disapp ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2006)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank HerbertThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Best Science Fiction
228th out of 1,660 books — 2,312 voters
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.Tagged by Joseph M. ChironThe Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellHis Dark Materials by Philip PullmanThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
SF & Theology
48th out of 181 books — 252 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Terry
An interesting take on the First Contact story. This one takes place in the Middle Ages, as an alien ship crash lands in the Black Forest of Germany near the small village of Oberhochwald. Tied in to this tale of the past is one that takes place in the present as two researchers (and lovers) try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of the village of Eifelheim (once called Oberhochwald) from recorded history and the implications this may have on their separate fields of study.

I found the ta
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Dec 28, 2012 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Ceridwen C
ETA (12/28/12): this one stayed and stayed and stayed with me. Thus, I'm raising it to a five-star book, from my previous waffling and dithering "hovering between three and four for this - so I will think about it for a while" - and this equivocating review.

The Good: unique first contact premise. Making the Krenkish human enough to spark empathy, but still alien enough to be ... alien, and yet believable. The history. The up-close-and-personal look at how the plague devastated communities (yuck
...more
Whitaker
First of all, a shout out of thanks to Ceridwen who, in reviewing this book on Goodreads, introduced it to me. It was a great review BTW and you should read it too.

We don’t often talk of the minor characters in novels: the walk-on parts with a few lines and no names. I think for this review, I just want to focus on two side characters. They are not terribly important, but their stories and the different trajectories they take lend added resonance to the main story. Julie Cao is a researcher and
...more
Stephen
3.5 Stars. Rich, detailed writing. Michael Flynn is a very good writer and this book was meticulously researched. I am someone who really likes books that pay attention to detail and spend the time to develop the world of the book and this one does that. The major drawback for me (and the only reason the book does not rate higher) was that the 1348 parts (which were the majority) got a bit boring and tedious. Though well written, I just found myself begging the author to move the story along. Th ...more
Jon
Apr 06, 2013 Jon added it
Recommended to Jon by: Alternative World April 2010 Selection
Ian
This book and I had a frustrating, love-hate relationship. We went to the movies and out to nice dinners. We went for long walks along the river. Then we battled over who should make the bed and who should empty the dishwasher. We fought and said hurtful things. But we also had some great make-up sex. The only thing as memorable as the love in this relationship was the enmity. Hence the three stars in my rating.

First, the things I hated:

Mr. Flynn apparently speaks several languages, including Ge
...more
Pam
Nov 17, 2007 Pam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers
A researcher investigating the disappearance of a Bavarian village (Eifelheim) in 1349 learns that a spaceship crashed in the area several months before the area was abandoned. It sounds preposterous but it's absolutely wonderful.
Cindy
I can't say this enough: I love stories that start with a simple premise (e.g. in Eifelheim aliens crash-land near a small 14th century German village) then follow the characters as they react and interact with the situation.

I'm really wavering between 4 and 5 stars for Eifelheim. Yet another conundrum due to the Quantized GoodReads Ratings. Let's lay out the case for each:

Five Stars:
I was really mourning the end of this book because I felt like I was so thoroughly immersed in the 14th century
...more
Banner
The gap between the supernatural and the natural narrows in this brilliant science fiction chronicle set in medieval Germany. The universe is both a cruel and beautiful place. Life is truly miraculous to overcome both, the black death and deep space travel. Reality is not categorized between science and faith but encompass both. These are just some of the thoughts you have after reading this book.

There is so much I would like to say about this book, but will not because I want each person to di
...more
Terence
I'm afraid my review here will be brief - the book is due back at the library today and, to be honest, I've been distracted by a very sick cat and haven't had the time or inclination to focus on reading.

That said, overall I found Eifelheim an interesting book and would recommend it. As other reviewers have noted, it's a parallel story: The first part is set in the "Now," where Tom, a historian, and his lover, Sharon, a physicist, are pursuing the elusive answers to mysteries. In Tom's case, it's
...more
Jamie
Fascinating book! This is a blending of sci-fi and historical fiction: a first-contact scenario that takes place in a 14th-century German village. The villagers must deal with aliens among them while the threat of the Black Plague presses in from all sides; meanwhile modern-day researchers are trying to unravel the mystery of a medieval village that was abandoned and never resettled.

The premise is a little far-fetched but the book is so well written that you hardly notice. I'm definitely going t
...more
Brooke
When I realized that several days had gone by that I hadn't picked up a book because I was dreading the idea of finishing this one, I realized it might be time to just send it back to the library. The print was so tiny that it kept giving me headaches, and the pacing was glacial. From reading a group discussion about the book, I desperately wanted to read the interesting bits, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Simon
Mike,

I liked your review and read the book because of it. So I'm very grateful.

I agree with everything you say, especially the clunkiness of the "Now" parts - what made that so bad was that the characters were completely one-dimensional and unconvincing and, well, annoying. I wondered whether there was any point in a contemporary counterpoint to the main story. Perhaps it did something - the idea of the few surviving signs of the story being around, and being understood, as when they find the Gr
...more
Sarah
Apr 17, 2010 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
A clever concept, but something about the style put me off. The pacing was odd, and there were too many characters (and many of them with multiple or similar names). The scenes set in the present, which apparently served as the original novella, featured two characters whose relationship seemed forced. They spoke to each other in intellectual jargon that just didn't feel real. The untranslated foreign phrases - a conceit that was charming in Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America - fel ...more
Adam
Dec 06, 2008 Adam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Connie Willis
Shelves: audio
I'd say that 3 stars if a fair rating for this book. First of all, it's almost like 2 separate stories. There's the historical narrative and the present day narrative.

The historical is by far the stronger story and that makes this book lopsided. The medieval town is fully fleshed out and holds most of the book quite well.

And that makes the present narrative all the more awkward. In terms of page count there is much less in the present. I don't know if it's the cause or effect of the two contempo
...more
Zeo
Oh, jeez. This sounded right up my alley. Contrary to other reviewers, I think Flynn spent too much time on the main characters - as uninteresting as they were, maybe it would have worked better if he stopped trying to say anything about them and just let them be stock plot vehicles. No, instead he goes on at bizarrely indulgent length about these self-satisfied characters. Vaguely pathetic husband who thinks he's better than he is; vaguely modern Wife With A Real Job who thinks she's better tha ...more
Sandi
I loved the way this book combined historical fiction with science fiction. It just blew me away. I don't think I've ever seen alien encounters handled in quite the same way.
Kristin
Eifelheim by Michael Flynn was March’s book group selection that nobody finished, but we all wanted to. The group collectively just ran out of time. It happens. Eifelheim was also a Hugo Nominee in 2007 that didn’t come out in paperback until the end of the year so I didn’t have a chance to read it before the Hugo Awards were announced.

Eifelheim is set in Southern Germany in the late 1300's. The Black Plague has begun it’s death march farther north, but to the small village of Oppenheim it is a
...more
Jenne
Hm. This was enjoyable, and had good characters, but I kept waiting for some kind of OMG! moment that just never really came. I thought that the researchers in the future were going to make some exciting discovery, but all they discovered was the thing in the past that we knew about all along.
Still, aliens-visit-13th-century-Germany is a pretty good story.

One other nitpick--it weirded me out that the aliens were supposed to be speaking bad German, but the way that was portrayed in the book was
...more
Gary
3 stars but really it's a 2.5 for me. It's an obviously well researched book with an engaging enough concept but it's slow and the segments set in the present are not developed enough for my liking. The majority of the book is set in 14th century Germany and the characters are well realised but there is little in the way of 'momentum' in the story and the hinted at seduction of Tom by Judy does not materialise at all - disappointing as this might have spiced the narrative up somewhat.
I was disap
...more
Peregrine
Reading this book was like spending far too long in an art gallery. There were many. many beautiful images, many depictions of intriguing concepts, but they never came alive for me into story. There was little to no narrative tension, I found, so the reading for me was laced strongly with tedium and impatience. Right now, I'm glad the book is done. Sometimes bits from even a boring book swing back and link with ideas from other books; if so, then I'll be glad to have read Eifelheim.
Gordon
In a word, wow. This book was not at all what I expected - it was far more. True, at times the science fiction element receded far into the background. True, the discussions on "natural philosophy" (science) in medieval terms occasionally went on a bit too long, as did other descriptions of fourteenth century life. And true, in the "modern" portion of the story, one character's frequent use of (untranslated) phrases borrowed from other languages was more than a bit annoying. But these flaws pale ...more
Brad
In all fairness, I ought to give one or two more stars to this novel for the following reasons.

The sheer amount of research put into the novel to make a complete picture of a small medieval German town and it's surrounding politics, not to mention the great walk-on parts of Occam and the peripheral references to Roger Bacon, made the novel a true tour-de-force.

Mr. Flynn's well-thought out idea behind hyperspace was explored quite thoroughly and also deserves much praise.

Even the basic premise be
...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn
Eifelhiem is vaguely reminiscent of Connie Willis and is also similar to the writing style of Geraldine Brooks. One of the most interesting aspect of this story is the description of medieval philosophy mixing with contact with an alien race. Like Alienation and Peter Jackson’s film District 9 (and I imagine that Flynn’s aliens resemble the District 9 prawns somewhat) the author also creates an allegory to examine and explore xenophobia in all its forms.

This is a good description of middle ages
...more
Jason Golomb
"Eifelheim" is one of those transcendent science fiction stories where an author is able to treat very human and Earth-bound issues with a well-reasoned and fascinating gloss of aliens and science. Author Michael Flynn's alien mythos and capabilities are believable and seamlessly integrated into the very real history of plague-era Germany.

I picked up "Eifelheim" for two reasons. I love a good story of first contact. I find myself continually drawn to the classics in this sci-fi genre, but also t
...more
John
What if aliens came to earth... in 1348? That's the basic premise of Michael Flynn's Eifelheim, though the narrative is split between a modern-day couple, a mathematical historian (Tom) and a theoretical physicist (Sharon) whose work inadvertently dovetail to unlock the mystery posed by certain historical sources, including the apparent disappearance of the German village of Eifelheim. The narrative weaves back and forth between their work and the story of the residents of this village and their ...more
Inna
Wonderful science fiction book on an alien ship crashing by remote German village on the eve of its devastation by the Black Death. The village priest, an intellectual who had to hide in the area after taking part in peasants' rebellion, understood that the aliens are thinking creatures in distress. Thus he managed to convince the villagers and the lord of the manor to assist them. He also managed to convince the aliens to accept his ideas of charity. Later, while some of the aliens left, others ...more
Bryce
A medieval town has first contact with a race of alien beings. The people, lead by their priest Dietrich, learns to accept the beings, live beside them and even try to help them return to their home world.

In modern times, a historian tries to solve the mystery of a missing medieval village and a physicist theorizes on the existance of multidimensional universes. They never realize how much their searches have to do with each other and how much they are tied to the priest and his aliens.

This is
...more
John B.
Historical fiction meets science fiction as an excuse to discuss religion, philosophy, and science--a most delicious recipe. The author depicts mid-fourteenth-century medieval Germany in the region of the Blackforest for twenty-first-century readers, immersing the reader in a worldview that is very different from our own. Add in the complication of contact with an alien society and the impending black plague and the story pulls the reader forward on an adventure, the outcome of which is not cert ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael Francis Flynn (born 1947) is an American statistician and science fiction author. Nearly all of Flynn's work falls under the category of hard science fiction, although his treatment of it can be unusual since he has applied the rigor of hard science fiction to "softe
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More about Michael Flynn...
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