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The Quiet War (The Quiet War #1)

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  1,145 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Twenty-third century Earth, ravaged by climate change, looks backwards to the holy ideal of a pre-industrial Eden. Political power has been grabbed by a few powerful families and their green saints. Millions of people are imprisoned in teeming cities; millions more labour on Pharaonic projects to rebuild ruined ecosystems. On the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, the Outers, de ...more
Paperback, 403 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Pyr (first published 2008)
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Green Mars by Kim Stanley RobinsonRed Mars by Kim Stanley RobinsonBlue Mars by Kim Stanley RobinsonHeart of the Comet by Gregory BenfordThe Quiet War by Paul J. McAuley
Synthetic Ecologies
5th out of 8 books — 4 voters
Across the Universe by Beth RevisSkyracos by John PichaGardens of the Sun by Paul J. McAuleyMegan’s Double Miracle by Marla MonroeProxima by Stephen Baxter
Best New Planet Colonization Books
9th out of 22 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,799)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
This kind of thing reminds me somewhat of Ben Bova’s Grand Tour of the Solar System series. OK, it’s not quite the same, since The Quiet War leans a lot more towards Space Opera. But still, there’s a vibe that corresponds, and it’s not just the hard science, either. The concept of war between Earth and the Outers received the treatment in other novels as well, such as Charles Sheffield’s Cold as Ice. Then there’s the blurb on the back cover that cites similarities with Peter F. Hamilton (is it m ...more
Blockbuster hard sf/space opera in Mr. McAuley Greater Brazil future history

In the 2200's, a century after the big Overturn - an ecological and social catastrophe that left vast swaths of Earth disaster area - Earth is rebuilding under 3 big powers dominated by "Families" that rose with prominence with their "Green Saints"

The religion of Gaia is dominant though in Greater Brazil it is mixed with traditional Catholicism, in the EU with secularism and in the Asian Sphere with traditional Asian re
I've enjoyed several of Paul McAuley's novels, and bought this book the instant I saw it. The back cover promised an exciting, intelligent story. After 70 pages I did something I rarely do--I put it back on the shelf. This book needed a strong editor.

If the following excerpt from page 68 excites you, or if you love Kim Stanley Robinson's novels, or if you have a lot of time and patience, you would probably like this novel.

"Soil was not a random mixture of inorganic, organic and living material;
Feb 17, 2010 Terence rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Library New Book shelf
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War was the second course in my “Presidents’ Day Brain Candy” Weekend (see my review of The Caryatids:, and I wound up liking it more than The Caryatids. That despite the fact that it suffered from a very slow beginning – I almost gave up but the action picked up after section one and the info-dumping largely ceased. The info-dumping was the second factor that almost made me stop reading. One of the main characters, Macy Minnot, ...more
In a future where Earth has been ravaged by economical disaster humanity is split down two divergent paths. Down one path are the Outers, exiled first to the moon then to Mars and now settled on the moons surrounding Jupiter and Saturn they espouse the ideas of Ancient Greek Democracy and use genetic manipulation to modify their bodies in ways both practical and cosmetic. Meanwhile, on Earth the powerful Brazilian government, ruled by a class of powerful families, follows a nature based religion ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The more genre books I do critical reviews of, the more I'm coming to realize that one of the biggest things genre fans crave is the sort of consensual cloud of topics that all the writers in that genre will form at any given time, and how indeed this cloud eventually coalesces as to define an entire era
Soon to be released in the U.S. this book is definitely one of the science fiction books of the year. The third book by Mcauley I’ve read in a row, and I have found each more absorbing than the last. This is a space opera with all of the romanticism and swashbuckling removed. Playing almost like a nasty John le Carre spy thriller with the characters being drawn into increasingly claustrophobic situations as their societies plunge towards an idiotic war. A spare style that at first didn’t grip me ...more
2 Stars until I can push through this one. I have read 33% but really remember very little of it. Great writing, great vocabulary, and some cool science fiction ideas. Flat and dull characters, the only one that I remotely like is Macy. I will try to comeback and start this one over again, as I really want to read this book.
A strong sci-fi story with deep socio-political resonances. Much easier to read than many of the recent additions to the genre. Furthermore, the characters had depth, complexity, and were very well developed. A wholesome, entertaining, and all-around good tale.
Clay Brown

Paul Mcauley’s Quiet War is the first book that I have read of this very interesting Science Fiction Author. I’m actually quite conscious of writers of Science Fiction, as you may have noticed I read a great deal of Science Fiction. I started reading at an early age and Science Fiction was my choice then, as it is now. So I’m a bit ‘Nuts’ about the Genre.

Oft times a writer of Ambition, and there are no more ambitious writers
The Quiet War follows the growing cold war between two branches of humanity. Greater Brazil is one of three families which has risen to power after investing in repairing the damage inflicted on the earth by climate change and economic crisis. Now the lives of those living on Earth are strictly controlled and monitored. The Outers on the other hand abandoned Earth in favour of colonising the moon’s of Jupiter and Saturn where they have the freedom to live a more utopian life. Here scientists exp ...more
Paul McAuley manages to make the familiar fun as he gives the traditional war in the Solar System genre a 21st century twist. “The Quiet War” (Pyr, $16, 403 pages) matches the pioneering “Outers” (those who have emigrated from a devastated Earth to the moons of Jupiter and beyond) against the domineering empire of Greater Brazil. Central to the narrative is the rivalry/hero worship of Sri Hong-Owen, a brilliant genetics’ researcher, with Avernus, an Outer genius. Hong-Owen, though from Earth, is ...more

Quiet as in space no one can hear you scream quiet and also as in you can't detect it until its too late. It starts with the Callisto Biome Peace Project and a murder. Crafty young soil-engineer Macy Minnot is reluctantly drawn into the struggle for war or peace among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The title gives the result away...

From the teeming cities of earth to the scrupulously realized landscapes of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, The Quiet War, an exotic, fast-paced space opera,
Quite clever in its exploration of the social "process" of going to war ... from the demonising of the opposition amongst the populous to the engineering of diplomatic incidents and the exaggeration of the enemies threat (weapons capability).

(Almost) all of the viewpoint characters are greedy, self-serving, politically ambitious scum.

Anyone else detecting some not-too-subtle parallels with recent events?

On top of that there is some fairly detailed exploration of issues of environmental managemen
Pilars Scott
Very oldschool (but not dated at all!) science fiction with some fantastic world building. Had a slow burn on the entertainment value but was overall very enjoyable. I didn't really feel like there was enough resolution at the end of the book. I'd be pissed if I didn't know there was a sequel... but now I have to decide whether to import it or wait for the US release. The marketing for the book was a little off as it was described as space opera-ish. I'd say this was more of a hard science ficti ...more
Really, really enjoyed this book, though i'm not sure if it's really because it's outstandingly good (it's definitely plenty good though) or because it hits all my favorite space opera buttons - lots of extra terrestrial geography, fleets of spaceships, varied quasi posthuman space colonization, etc. All of it is well written and well plotted, and I liked the characters too (look, lots of women and none of them are whores!) though sometimes it seemed as though their motivations and arcs were spe ...more
I was disappointed with this book. It started off with a lot of potential: really interesting setting, promising plot line (intrasolar cold war of sorts), and a wide cast of characters that could tell the story from different vantage points. Sadly the book did not deliver on this potential. All of the POV characters reacted to their situation instead of taking control of it. It seemed the only reason they did anything is because circumstances forced their hands. All the interesting major plot de ...more
I borrowed the sequel to this book from the library and was four chapters in before I realised it *was* actually a sequel. Luckily the library had this in for me to borrow. The Quiet War is an interesting book. It reminds me really strongly of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy in it's planet-forming techniques and its sweeping global and planetary politics. The characters are not at all loveable, or even likeable, but the set up and story is so interesting that the lack of likeable characters ...more
This is a very complex and long, yet interesting take on politics and how wars develop. As McCauley says in the end: "Minds selected to solve problems that challenged groups of hunter-gatherers roaming the plains of Africa two hundred thousand years ago cannot cope with the difficulties and stresses of the civilizations they later created. We are doomed by the failure of our phylogeny to keep pace with our inventiveness." (p.397).
After Earth is almost destroyed in a series of environmental cat
Ian Mond
If I didn’t have this compulsion to finish everything I start I would have stopped reading The Quiet War around page 50. But in spite of the voice in my head telling me that life is too short to be reading stodgy prose, endless descriptions of space plants and space engineering and the potted life history of dull characters, I kept reading. And you know what? Eight days later, after turning the last of 439 pages, I decided that I wanted to read the sequel.

Much of this has to do with the fact th
Two hundred years from now, following catastrophic climate change and devastating wars, the remaining people of Earth have been united under a handful of super-states: the Pacific Community, the European Union, and Greater Brazil (encompassing most of the Americas). In the solar system, meanwhile, genetically altered human colonists called “Outers” have fled to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn after a war with Earth saw their colonies on Mars totally eliminated. As the Outers intend to spread fur ...more
I enjoyed the science, but not the science fiction. The plot is ponderous and inconsistently paced, but the crippling part is that the author doesn't actually like any of the characters or societies he depicts. Earth is dominated by vicious feudal gangsters and the rest of the solar system is populated by squabbling space hippies. The former I can accept, given the backstory of global ecological catastrophe. However, the "Outers" are inexplicably saddled with clownish societal ineffectuality and ...more
I really enjoyed this book and the story line. I thought it was fascinating that people moved away from Earth to colonize other moons. I thought the science behind the story was also very interesting. I'll definitely be getting the sequel, "Gardens of the Sun."

Strangely, I can see this novel made into an anime. It would work as a live-action film, too.
I wanted to like this book, I really did, since the premise is very intriguing. I'm a biologist by education, so the terraforming was interesting. Unfortunately, it was far too detailed for a science-fiction novel and slowed the pace considerably. I only liked one of the characters (Macy) and she gets put on the sidelines for so much of the first 200 pages, that it was hard to make connections even with her. The rest are arrogant, stupid, mean, and just plain unlikable. Not even a charismatic vi ...more
Maybe I've read too much of this kind of thing lately. I do like a bit of spaceshippery, and goodness knows Paul McAuley knows his stuff and can write well, but I just found this one a little turgid.

There's a bit too much background, you see. Too much narrative describing histories and allegiances. That gives the impression of a setting that's been really well thought through, occasionally at the expense of the story and the characters. That's accompanied by some clunky efforts at establishing
There aren't nearly enough good hard sci fi stories being written today. I'll take a good sci fi story (especially one set in our solar system) over an urban fantasy novel any day. How many books are there currently being published with a picture on the cover of the novel's female protagonist, looking over her shoulder, wearing a shirt that bares her midriff, and holding a sword? Too many if you ask me. The Quiet War delivers when it comes to the science of the story, especially genetic manipula ...more
Paul Weimer
Back in the 1990's, I went through a spurt of reading the novels of Paul McAuley. His SF aligned perfectly with my tastes, from Fairyland to Pasquale's Angel to the Confluence Trilogy, one of my favorite SF series of all time.

I didn't read his SF techno-thrillers, but I am very happy that he has now returned to straight main-line science fiction with The Quiet War.

The Quiet War is set in a solar system after "The Overturn", when the 20th and 21st century geopolitics and fossil fuel economy world
Hmmm... Not sure what I thought of this in the end. In need of a prune? A change in the pacing? Some more sympathetic characters?

I also can't quite decide whether I think it fits within the space opera sub-genre or not. There are some of the essential elements (spaceships and travel, energy and mass driven weaponry used in inter-ship and space-surface warfare, social and political conflict etc.) but the scale is limited, the vistas largely unwondered at, and the science perhaps a shade too hard.
I went through a phase a couple of years ago of not reading science fiction, preferring to concentrate on fantasy over on that side of the library, but I see I've missed all sorts of good stuff...

Here's an example - the basic premise of 'The Quiet War' is that it's set in a time after the Overturn, a time when the inhabitants of Earth were forced to make some tough decisions about how to save their environment while at the same time colonising elsewhere in the universe. As a result there was a s
Daniel Foss
When I picked up The Quiet War, I was looking for an action packed space/sci-fi war book. What I got instead was a very scientific heavy book, which tries to explain how everything works. When I read About the Author, Paul McAuley, in the back of the book, it explained that he used to be a biologist before becoming an author. This becomes almost immediately apparent when reading the book, as all the main scientists who are responsible for nearly anything are biologists. Much of the book talks ab ...more
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Since about 2000, book jackets have given his name as just Paul McAuley.

A biologist by training, UK science fiction author McAuley writes mostly hard science fiction, dealing with themes such as biotechnology, alternate history/alternate reality, and space travel.

McAuley has also used biotechnology and nanotechnology themes in near-future settings.

Since 2001, he has produced several SF-based tech
More about Paul J. McAuley...
Fairyland Gardens of the Sun Cowboy Angels Child of the River In the Mouth of the Whale (The Quiet War, #3)

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