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3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  890 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In the 21st century change is the certainty amidst endless civil wars and technological revolutions. Europe is divided between the First World bourgeoisie, made rich by nanotechnology and the cheap slave labour of the genetically engineered Dolls, and the Fourth World of refugees and homeless displaced by war.
Paperback, 373 pages
Published 2007 by Gollanz/Orion Publishing (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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A dark, immersive biopunk epic which is very close to being a top-tier achievement – and yet somehow, in the final third, it just kept slipping away from me faster and faster, until by the end I no longer had any firm grip on who half the characters were, or what exactly had happened to them, or why. Whether that's the book's fault or mine I'm not quite sure.

The setting is a nearish-future Europe of scientific advance and social decay, in which nanotechnology is as prominent a feature as conflic
Mcauley offers up a slice of what could be called biopunk treading similar ground to Difilippo’s Ribofunk, but definitely punk as opposed to funky from characters quoting Talking Heads (the appropriate “Life during Wartime”) and listening to Bad Brains, to the despairing and nihilistic tone. A near future revolution of manufactured dolls like Calder’s Dead Trilogy or Rucker’s ‘ware trilogy but with the intense characters, muscular realism, and realpolitik of Lucius Shepard. A great stylistic ran ...more
A Memorable Post-Cyberpunk Novel Set in a Wasted, Near Future Europe

“Fairyland” remains one of the most impressive works in post-cyberpunk fiction, conjuring a nightmarish vision of a near future Europe in which biotechnology has run amok, creating new species of humans designed for pleasure and violent sport. Paul J. McAuley’s novel is a fast-paced thriller reminiscent of William Gibson and John Shirley’s early cyberpunk novels in its pacing. Succumbing to the charm and vision of a megalomaniac
Edward Davies
Jul 11, 2016 Edward Davies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such an odd world that McAuley has created yet, as someone who was born and raised in London, it is oddly familiar too. Slightly reminiscent of the works of both Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov through its use of robots as a metaphor for humanity, this story tells the history of how robotic slaves called Dolls rise up against their masters and create their own species, the fairies. This is both funny and dark, and manages to make feel real a story that is otherwise pure fantasy.
Althea Ann
Fits firmly into the cyberpunk genre, with hints of Neal Stephenson influence.... However, I didn't really enjoy the 'feeling' of the book. I liked McAuley's Confluence trilogy much more than this novel.
Jul 16, 2016 Carlex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mi primer McAuley. Me sedujo y me fascinó.
Jan 03, 2015 Lois rated it really liked it
I had to rate this book four stars purely because of the impressive scope and dazzling imagination of it, even though I probably only enjoyed it to a three-star degree. I'm not sure exactly why that is; I just found it a bit of a slog, particularly in the first two parts. I suppose it took me that long to figure out what was really going on—what the book was trying to do—and that made it difficult. I think it was also made a little difficult by the somewhat underdeveloped settings. The world as ...more
Les romans de McAuley sont toujours assez indescriptibles. Celui-ci, toutefois, est assez clair.
Enfin, assez clair, assz clair, faut voir ...
Donc, ce roman se situe dans un futur proche, mais indéterminé. Le climat s'est suffisamment réchauffé pour faire de Londres une capitale au climat tropical, et des carpathes (où se finit le roman) une forêt subtropicale. Le progrès s'est comme d'habitude orienté dans des directions curieuses, qui cette fois-ci semblent être les biothechnologies dans leur e
Sandy Morley
On an elemental level this is hard science fiction, as billed, replete with detailed explanations of atomic biology that seem to do more for the author than the book he writes. Reading it, though, it feels a lot more in the vein of Thomas Harris and his Red Dragon than anything in my admittedly limited collection of sci-fi. A wholly imperfect man (okay, Paul, you don't need to mention his weight every time he meets a new character) who is both out of his depth and in possession of an incredibly ...more
Paul Westwood
Nov 18, 2015 Paul Westwood rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I really liked this book when I first started it but there were a few things that I struggled with later on. Initially it came across as a less extreme form of cyberpunk than William Gibson's but then the description of the futuristic nanobotery became a little too complex. Some of these concepts were interesting but I got lost in the details. I realise that it's supposed to be like this to a certain extent but it was a little too much, like showing off.
I was ok with the present tense narration
Steve Grandpre
Apr 30, 2014 Steve Grandpre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far, the best cyberpunk book I've ever read. It explores the deep implications of the technology of its world, as every good sci fi book should. The tone is dark and a tad noir, and every mystery reveals deeper forces at work.

The main character starts of creating drugs out of custom crafted viruses that deliver tailored psychoactive effects. As time passes, customized viruses are obsoleted by programmed nanobots that interact with the brain on a molecular level. The technology is so accessib
Alissa Thorne
The dyspepsia world of Fairyland is vivid in its filth and brutality. The technology introduced makes for compelling mechanics, and they build upon and play off of one another.

Sound like a great (albeit, unpleasant) book? Well, it was for the first two thirds. The book was broken up into three independent stories. The switch from "book" one to two felt like it added a lot of depth to the world, and that the main character grew and changed a lot. By contrast, the switch from two to three felt fr
Jan 08, 2017 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thrilling dystopian exploration of possibilities of technology and genetic engineering, lush with myth and metaphor, and with a humane heart.
Aug 06, 2011 Bryan added it
Tough going, without much reward. A dark, dystopian future of genetic engineering gone mad. Sone great sequences in occasional bursts, but overall leaves too much unexplained.
Remember, this book was first published in 1995.

The first third of the book is great fun, full of a compelling and frightening near-future London. Given this was written in 1994-1995, it's an amazingly accurate dystopian conception. Alex is an interesting quasi-hero, and the accelerated divide between rich and poor is clearly shown.

A global climate disaster has already occurred as the story begins, horrific in its implications. The war between rich and poor, corporations and workers, is nicely i
Laura Pope
Jun 23, 2017 Laura Pope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A sprawling wonderful scary read. McAuley spins a deep web with really great characters and drags you into a weirdly recognizable future.
There is a theme running through McAuleys books. Gaia, environment, AI, biology, Genentech, evolution.
He us one smart, complicated author.It's a pleasure to read his book even if it is a frightening futurethat he looks into.
Titania Remakes the World
far out and cool. Psychoactive viral warfare, nanites, genetic manipulation, examining the nature of slavery, very exciting.
Ronald Swanston
Mar 20, 2017 Ronald Swanston rated it it was amazing
re-read. First time i thought the end was poor and the book rambled to its flat ending. Boy oh boy was i wrong reading again ten years later this was a great book and deserves to be part of the sci-fi masterpiece imprint.
Ryan Ward
2.5 stars. Great concept brought down by clunky prose, uneven and confusing pacing and plot, next to no character development or exploration of motivation, and distracting info dumps that still somehow manage to leave you confused.
Mar 16, 2017 Ninja rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, biopunk, cyberpunk
Close to a 4, but I felt a little disconnected from it. Gripping at times, meandering at others. Didn't help that I lost the book for a while in the middle and had to buy another copy. A lot of interesting concepts but lacking some cohesion, and aggressive timelining.
Bob Hooker
Mar 06, 2017 Bob Hooker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge
I just finished it and was going to write a review only to see that the authors wife died recently and he has sort of vanished from public eye. I guess his loss is more important than anything I can say about the book. Go buy it cuz its good enough to read, and its a hard life being a sci fi writer with a lost partner.
Feb 14, 2017 Iary rated it did not like it
First of all, this edition is chock-full of typos. Second of all, spoilers ahead!

The first few chapter are ok. The universe they set up is pretty straightforward, even if really depressing at times. Basically everyone is high all the time, one way or another. But wait! There are good, legal drugs (bacteria, viruses or whatever the hell biochemists have come up with) and bad, illegal ones. Alex Sharkey, our main character whose girth is constantly emphasized by the author, is about to cross his w
Roddy Williams
‘In the twenty-first century Europe is divided between the First World bourgeoisie, made rich by nanotechnology and the cheap slave labour of genetically engineered Dolls, and the Fourth World of refugees and the homeless, displaced by war and economic turbulence.

Alex Sharkey is trying to make his mark as a designer of psychoactive viruses in London whilst staying one step ahead of the police and Triad gangs. He finds an unlikely ally in a scary-smart but dangerous child named Milena, but his tr
Joe Zivak
Nov 14, 2013 Joe Zivak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prva tretina bola slubna, preto pokracovanie tak sklamalo. Biopunk bol v nej uveritelny, autor je biolog, ale co sa rozputalo dalej uz bol jeden velky chaos bez logiky a poriadneho vyvrcholenia. Prvy problem nastal uz tam, ked autor skocil v pribehu o desiatky rokov vpred. Uplne tym zmenil svoj svet a celu tu zmenu sucho historicky opisal na desiatkach stranok, cim uplne zlikvidoval tempo z prvej tretiny. Najhorsie je, ze vsetky tie programovatelne nanovirusy sirene svetom boli vsemocne, menili ...more
Mar 22, 2009 Sharakael rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction took me close to a year to finish this novel.

It started off nicely, nice pace, nice set up, intriguing characters... and just when I thought the novel's going to be plain awesome, it ended on that peak. Then it fast-forwards a number of years; new characters, new set up showing what had become of the world after the events in the initial segment... a majority of everything new, in fact, that it felt like the novel was rather disjointed.

The book is divided into 3 major segments (or was it 4
May 26, 2009 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, surprisingly good mid-90s SF novel here! It's hard to recap, but McAuley basically revamps a lot of cyberpunk tropes to make them "biopunk," or a near future with biological engineering. Fairyland follows the liberation of a slave-class of "dolls" through the eyes of a gene-hacker, Alex Sharkey, medic, Morag, and journalist, Todd. I found the first section of the book pretty slow, but loved the second in which Morag fought to save a little boy abducted by the "fairies" (freed dolls) who liv ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Allie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairyland was a novel that I appreciated more than I enjoyed. It takes place in a bleak but fascinating future, where peoples’ minds are easily manipulated by nanotechnology and blue-skinned gengineered “dolls” are in common use. The story follows Alex’s pursuit of the genius girl Milena, after they jointly uplift these dolls into sentient “fairies”. While the ideas were really interesting, I always felt a little too detached from the characters, including the fairies, to ever become really draw ...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]A 1995 novel of the near future which won the Arthur C. Clarke Award (and I think also the BSFA). It's a pessimistic take on the post-nanotech future, particularly convincing on the relationship between high-tech computing and low-tech field combat in a very recognisable near-future Albania (yep, I've stayed in that hotel too). [return][return]I thought the settings were very convincing if rather gloomy - 1994-95 saw the height of the Bos ...more
Nov 28, 2012 Megan rated it liked it
I found this book very difficult to finish. I liked the premise, and I wanted to enjoy it, but there were a number of things that kept getting in the way. Initially, it was the heavy language - new words were thrown around with little context or explanation, though it was possible to pick up the general meanings over time. Then, it was the story line. It started well, but became plodding and erratic. I didn't feel a connection to the characters and by the end of it, I just wanted to get through ...more
Mark Harding
Mar 25, 2011 Mark Harding rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I picked up Fairyland because Adam Roberts recommended it as his ‘Clarke of Clarke’s’

I immediately stopped reading his review until I’d read the novel. And then after reading the novel, I foolishly (or very wisely) I read his review before writing my notes here.

So now I am silenced. Put in my place. Feeling shallow and inadequate and dense and insensitive.

The only bright spot is AR says Spenser’s ‘parfit gentle knight’, when, in fact, it was Chaucer. (Spenser is simply ‘A Gentle Knight’.)

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fairyland: good or excellent? 1 5 Nov 29, 2009 01:24AM  
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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 McAuley...

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“I didn’t know this kind of shit was about to happen,’ Katrina hisses. ‘This fucker has suckered us in and sold us out. For the second time.’ Katrina lapses into this kind of tough guy dialogue when she’s stressed – she learned English from virtual shoot-’em-ups. Firelight flatters her face. She looks young and fierce and alert, a warrior-princess from the sagas in a black leather jacket, buckled biker boots and black leggings. All she lacks are mirrorshades.” 0 likes
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